Gift distribution- St Rafka Mission of Hope and Mercy/ The Apostolate of Our Lady of Hope
Third Phase: Chaldean Catholic Church in Sed-El-Baouchrieh, Beirut, Lebanon
By Gerard Abi Assaf, January 14- 2017
Church Organization served: Chaldean Catholic Church
Total Number of Children: 780
1 Year Old to 3 Years Old
Number of Girls served: 112
Number of boys served: 110
4 Years Old to 6 Years Old
Number of Girls served: 79
Number of Boys served: 82
7 Years Old to 9 Years Old:
Number of Girls served: 99
Number of Boys served: 107
10 Years Old to 12 Years Old:
Number of girls served: 87
Number of boys served: 103
On the Jan. 14, 2017, St Rafka Mission of Hope & Mercy (Also Known as The Apostolate of Our Lady of Hope) embarked on its third gift-giving operation, at the Chaldean Catholic Church in Sed-El-Baouchrieh, an area of Beirut, Lebanon.
More than 900 children were present along with their parents to receive from TeamLebanon of St Rafka Mission of Hope&Mercy their awaited christmas gifts through which they wished to grasp a breath of Hope and joy on this day.
Our committed and united team of volunteers that included around 10 volunteers not counting the local helpers from Beirut, once again proved to be worthy of being called the Apostles of Hope. These were: Elie Nasrani, Anthony Andraors, Stephanie khoury, Nathalie Harb, Elie Aoun, Santana Abiassaf, Nancy Ishak, Mariane and Gerard Abiassaf.
Each and every one of them showed courage and readiness to serve Jesus, who's voice is heard through the pain of the children refugees.
After a long month of arrangements for getting the right gift for each child and for that huge number of children (more than 900 children were present), and with the help of our team Denver, Father Andre our Director along with Hage Superstore and our generous volunteers, we gathered around 900 gifts. Another 150 additional gifts were also accounted to the place for additional unexpected numbers of children arriving, to be distributed for the iraqi refugees.
Local Television, along with many broadcasting channels and radios were present to keep up with our Mission activity on that special day.
It is important to note that this time, the work of the Mission in the Middle East happens under the immediate directions and with the blessing of the President of the International Confederation of the Apostolic Union of Clergy in the World, located in the Vatican, Rome Italy.
Monsignor Giuseppe Magrin, the International President of this Intercontinental Organization that works under the direct supervision of the Vatican Office of Clergy in the World gathering hundreds of thousands of ordained ministers and clergy, had recently appointed with the approval of the Maronite Bishop in the USA, His Excellency Bishop Elias Zaidan, the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, Fr Andre to be the First National President of the Apostolic Union of Clergy in the United States of America.
In his letter of appointment, Fr Andre was directly handed the "responsibility to reach out on behalf of the International Apostolic Union of clergy to all ecumenical Church Families of all traditions who are experiencing hardship, forced immigration, persecution and economic distress due to their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ especially in North Africa and in the Middle East.
I, Gerard Abiassaf, Told Telelumiere Noursat, the only Catholic ran Tv in the Middle East broadcasting from Lebanon to over 400 million people who live across the Middle East, Africa and the Arab World: " Our goal today is to assure that hope for a better life for the Iraqi refugees is finally here and that God is here, and these gifts we are distributing are a symbol of Joy these children were deprived of".
I continued: "St Rafka Mission of Hope&Mercy's second goal is to ensure clothes for the 900 present children and their families. Also food, medicine and urgent medical care when neededuntil our final goal is achieved through awareness and continual support from the various humanitarian and Christian groups in America which is to bring all these people back to their homes in Iraq and Syria."
Afterwards, another Broadcasting television called: 'BNB' asked me: "As Young Adults what is the goal today from distributing gifts to this huge number of children?"
My response was: "Our goal today is to be the right hand of God by being as Americans and Lebanese Christians a true Apostolate of Hope and Mercy for these families. This is not just our responsibility nor a simple moral obligation to help them, but most of all is it being the true voice and act of God through our Mission".
The gifts distribution process took over 4 hours due to the large number of children. However, our volunteers were very happy to spread the hope and smile on the children's faces along with the help of the Chaldean church locals.
Ms Santana Abiassaf one the volunteers said: "When we see the smile and joy we were able to render on the face of each child, an indescribable joy and peace filled us and gave us strength to keep giving more". This response summarizes all the volunteers' feelings and emotions towards today's work.
Additionally this time, Our founder and director Father Andre Mahanna was also accompanying us Live through FaceTime call form Denver, Colorado to follow up with the gift distribution process during the day.
He also asked Santana to get snacks and juice for the children since they were waiting in line to get their gifts.
While on the phone after midnight Denver time, Father Andre assured Msgr Trabolsi, the Vice Vicar-General of the Chaldean Church in Lebanon: " We want to also provide coats and jackets, food and most urgently ensure needed medical operations for the refugees". Fr also continued: "We are here from Denver and all of America standing in full support by your side and by the side of the church of Irak and Syria".
The Chaldean church also had provided around 100 gifts that were distributed to cover theunexpected additional numbers of children.
Finally, one sentence describes today's efforts of love: "Amazing Grace of Hope and Mercy".
The Young Adults of TeamLebanon for the St Rafka Mission of Hope&Mercy,
the Apostolate of Our Lady of Hope,
the International USA Office of the International Union of Clergy,
Fr Andre along with TeamDenver and our supporting volunteers, all are humbled knowing that God wrote a story of hope and Mercy today through the prayers of many, enabling our united effort of love and awareness to calm the fear and assure a message of true hope in Life again. We will continue to do so through prayer and perseverance in serving the poor and the distressed, the hungry and the refugee until we return them home. We will keep working towards making the entire earth an image of Heaven, a safe haven, a Home, a PLACE for all the children of Abraham and now for the tortured and persecuted christians in the middle east and the world.
Always pray for us please and remember that Our Mission is that through Charity and Awareness, we deliver Jesus Christ the true Gift for all the children and persecuted families in the World.
Submitted By Gerard Abi Assaf