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Volume 10, No. 1SPRING 2007

Message from the Executive Director

In 1994, IOCC began its operations in Georgia at the invitation of ILIA II, Patriarch-Catholicos of Georgia. At that time, more than a quarter of a million people were displaced due to separatist fighting. Pictured above, IOCC Executive Director Constantine M. Triantafilou is greeted by ILIA II.

“Once upon a time there lived a boy prince ... All the doors of worldly pleasures and success were open before him. But something within himself turned him away from all those things after which millions of human beings are feverishly striving. He renounced all vanities and allurements of the world and one day secretly fled away from the royal court and settled in the desert place a poor stranger intent to enlighten his soul by fulfilling God’s will to perfection. Many years later this worldly prince, led by God’s hand, returned from the desert to his native country as a prince of the church and forever the spiritual leader of his nation. He became the spiritual father of millions of people rebuilding churches and schools throughout his country and reached out to all in need.”

These words, penned by Bishop Nikolai about the life of St. Sava, have motivated and guided me from the moment I read them when I was just starting my career in Bosnia many years ago. In the early 1990s our own SCOBA Hierarchs in America emulated the decision of St. Sava to fulfill “God's will to perfection” by reaching “out to all in need.” Faced with the fall of Communism and the war in the Balkans, our Bishops called upon their lay leaders to mount a unified humanitarian response to these events that would forever change our historic Orthodox lands. And so, on March 10, 1992 IOCC was born.

Since then, IOCC has implemented nearly $250 million in emergency aid and long term development initiatives in 33 countries. As we mark this 15th anniversary milestone, we know now, more than ever, that poverty, war, and natural disaster are not the final arbiters in people’s lives. I have seen individuals driven from their homes, having lost all, and yet have the courage to return and rebuild their lives. It is humbling and inspiring to see that alongside such suffering there can also be such grace, courage, and determination.

Throughout 2007, and in the issues of News & Needs, we will be marking IOCC’s 15th anniversary with a look back at our beginnings in Russia, the Balkans, and Georgia, as well as a look at our current work and future initiatives. As we trace the geographic trajectory of IOCC’s outreach from Eastern Europe to the Middle East to South Asia and Africa, we will thank and feature our hierarchs, founders, donors, staff, and partners who have come together in one voice to serve our brothers and sisters in need.

We are particularly overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and resources of our Orthodox brothers and sisters towards the cataclysmic disasters of Sept. 11, 2001, the 2004 Tsunami, and the 2005 Hurricanes in the US Gulf Coast. Above all, we thank God for His Grace and love. And, we thank our SCOBA Hierarchs who saw the potential of speaking with ONE voice and acting with ONE heart in fulfilling our Lord’s commandment to serve the least of our brethren. Their courage, like that of St. Sava's, in reaching out to all in need, has given them spiritual fatherhood over millions of people.

As we look forward to the next 15 years, we pledge, with our Hierarchs, our founders, our supporters, our partners, and our staff, to stand, side by side, and united with one voice respond to our Lord Jesus Christ's call to minister to those who are suffering and in need throughout the world.

Yours In Christ,

Constantine M. Triantafilou
Executive Director & CEO

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