Peter and Christina are a young married couple who live with their three children, and one on the way, in southern California. They are recent converts to Orthodoxy and they are wholly committed to tithing. They tithe 10% of their single income to their local Orthodox parish and give above and beyond that to various Orthodox ministries, including Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) where they are members of OCPM’s Matthew 25:36 Fellowship.
Donors to the Matthew 25:36 Fellowship commit to giving at least $25.36 per month to OCPM. Monthly donors form the bedrock of support on which OCPM depends. Monthly support allows the ministry to better plan its programs and forecast its budget.
Christina first heard about OCPM when she read a story about how an Orthodox priest helped a prisoner overcome an addiction to pornography by counseling him to think of the Theotokos. “My mind was blown by that interaction,” says Christina who was gratified to discover that the Orthodox Church had a national prison ministry. “I saw that Orthodox theology has the power to truly heal.”
The story also helped the Wagenets see prisoners as people who are made in the image of God and who deserve love. “Whether they are serving sentences that are just or unjust, they deserve love,” says Peter.
Supporting OCPM has had a particularly poignant effect on Christina who is close to someone who has served time in prison. “To me there is a little bit of healing because when I read OCPM’s stories about prisoners I think, ‘that could be the person I know,’” she says.
The Wagenets plan to increase their tithing as their income increases, even with a growing family. “I really believe in doing the most important thing first and the rest will follow,” says Peter. “God has blessed us and the least we can do is give something back.”