Annual Greek Orthodox Youth of America (GOYA) Basketball Tournaments for the Metropolis of Denver and the Metropolis of Pittsburgh further the work of making disciples of all nations by supporting the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC).
Over the past few months, the youth of both the Metropolis of Denver and the Metropolis of Pittsburgh gathered for their annual Greek Orthodox Youth of America (GOYA) basketball tournaments. This year, however, participants saw the tournament as having a broader purpose than a time for retreat and fellowship. They also saw it as an opportunity to serve those taking Christ’s Gospel to the “ends of the earth” through OCMC ministries.
Over the weekend of January 18-21, 2013, Fr. Christopher Constantinides and the faithful of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Dallas, Texas, hosted the youth of the Metropolis of Denver for the Metropolis' annual basketball tournament. Leading up to the tournament, participating parishes collectively offered $5,000 to the OCMC. These funds were used to support the Protection of the Theotokos Family Center in Romania and the Theotokos Girls/St. Ignatius Boys Orphanage in India. The Protection of the Family Theotokos Center, operated by OCMC Missionary Ancuta Frantz, works to prevent child abandonment by offering child care and mentoring to unwed mothers. The Theotokos Girls/St. Ignatius Boys Orphanage, directed by Sister Nektaria Paradisi near Kolkata, India, is home to about 100 children.
GOYAns of the Metropolis of Pittsburgh gathered for their basketball tournament in Steubenville, Ohio, over the weekend of February 15-18. They were welcomed by Fr. Nicholas Halkias and the faithful of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. Tournament organizers utilized $600 otherwise set aside for trophies to support the ministry of Fr. Charalambos Mutalagwe of Uganda through OCMC’s Support a Mission Priest (SAMP) Program. Markella Balasis, OCMC SAMP Program Coordinator, attended the tournament and shared stories about both the struggles and the joys experienced by mission priests in places like rural Uganda.
Through these tournaments, hundreds of young Orthodox Christians were offered opportunities to learn about how Orthodox faithful around the world are connected through the Body of Christ and how this vital work must continue so that more people will come to the Faith. They also provided a beautiful witness of how young people can be engaged directly in mission work, even years before being able to travel overseas on their own.
Working within youth basketball tournaments is just one wonderful example of ways that youth coordinators are planting the seeds of mission work in the hearts of young people throughout the Orthodox Church in North America. To discuss this, or other ideas to raise mission awareness with the faithful of your community, please contact Kenneth Kidd, OCMC Annual Gifts Officer, at email@example.com or at 904-829-5132, ext. 161.