Donkeys and Toys: Christmas Gifts for Rebirth Donkeys and Toys: Christmas Gifts for Rebirth- Western Diocese of the Armenian Church

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19 June 2024

Donkeys and Toys: Christmas Gifts for Rebirth
Published - 10 January 2019

At the beginning of Advent, Fr. Vazken Movsesian, who leads our weekly Bible Study in Glendale put out an invitation to the members of the group. The premise was simple. We celebrate Jesus' birth on Christmas, therefore let us give him the gift he desires. In the passage from the Gospel of St. Luke (14) Jesus spells out his wish very plainly:

"When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”    

This year our labor was multiplied tremendously as we came together in prayer and in reaching out to those in need. Blessed by the Grace of God, our group provided Christmas and Christian blessing during this Christmas Season with the following projects:

  • Over 2,000 toys to children in shelters. These children of domestic violence are often forgotten because the crimes of the parents leaves them behind in protective custody. Christmas morning came alive with toys and joy. Collected in memory of Yvette Hakopian, our thanks to the many partner business and professionals who placed boxes in their offices and stores. 
  • Donkeys for Refugees - Ten donkeys were purchased and delivered to families in refugee camps from the Darfur Genocide. Donkeys with plows allow families to farm, to create a more sustainable pathway forward as they reassemble their lives. Working with iAct on this project.

  • Pushed and hit: A member of our community was brutally thrown in front of a moving truck by a homeless man. Catching the attention of the national media, a GoFundMe page was set up. With concentrated prayers our group participated in the collection of several thousands of dollars to help get him and the family back on their feet.
  • Verdugo Family Promise and Ascencia feeds: Providing for families in transition from homelessness, we provided meals and on New Years Eve a special celebration with our brothers and sisters with festivities.
  • Christmas cheer at local area hospitals and convalescent homes - with singers and carols abounding. 
  • Podcasts heralding the news of Christ to the world, now continue into the 11th year of streaming to a worldwide audience under the name "The Next Step with Fr. Vazken"

At Christmas, Christ comes into our lives to renew us. We have a chance at life in a new and fresh way. Our gift giving this Christmas allowed so many to start their lives anew and afresh, whether with the toys which offered the children hope, or the donkeys which gave the refugee families a shot at reconstructing their lives from the ruins of Genocide.

The beautiful part of these outreach programs is that they are not limited to the Christmas season, but rather a part of the ongoing outreach of our Bible Study group. We have learned that faith has to be applied, therefore we try to walk in the shoes of others. According to Fr. Vazken, at Christmas time we ourselves have been given the gift of Christ. Our only way to share our appreciation is to give to others.

The Monday evening Bible Study convenes at the St. Mark Episcopal Church, 1020 N. Brand Blvd, Glendale, and functions under the direct auspices of the Diocesan Primate, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. Sessions are led by Fr. Vazken. Bible Study and vespers start promptly at 7:00PM and are offered for the nominal cost of having an open and ready heart for God's love. All are welcome. For more information write