The Committee on Diaconal Ministries
of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church

For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves 
and also great confidence in the faiththat is in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 3:13

News and Prayer Items

COVID-19 Pandemic Response (CPR) Fund

UPDATE AS OF 05/20/20:
With thanksgiving, we are glad to report that the OPC’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response (CPR) Fund has received a total of $20,000 in gifts. With the gifts, the Committee on Diaconal Ministries has already been able to respond to some requests for financial assistance. Last week, in response to their request, a gift was sent to our brothers and sisters in the Africa Evangelical Presbyterian Church (AEPC) in Kenya, a denomination with whom the OPC has fraternal ties, where they have been in coronavirus lockdown since mid-March. This week, the CDM is sending funds to OP missionaries laboring in Uganda to provide funds for food for some churches there.
     A significant impact of the novel coronavirus lockdown in the developing world is hunger. While many in the West are accustomed to pantries loaded with weeks of food, many others in the world work each day to earn their daily bread. As such, being prohibited from working to earn food for the day brings tremendous suffering. As such, we are thankful to be able to play a small part in extending mercy in these difficult days, particularly to those who have the least.
The Committee on Diaconal Ministries recently opened up the COVID-19 Pandemic Response (CPR) Fund. This fund will be used to help churches and individuals especially hard-hit by the COVID-19 virus. We anticipate great needs locally and regionally. All those who are able ought to be encouraged to contribute generously to their local deacons’ fund and to their presbytery diaconal fund. (Soon, many will be receiving economic stimulus checks, despite having lost no income; could that be shared with those in need?) For those who are able to give above and beyond local and regional needs, we invite to give toward this fund to participate in meeting needs in the OPC or within our sister churches around the world.

COVID-19: Deacons Mobilized in Response (As seen in May 2020 Issue of New Horizons)

by David Nakhla

The coronavirus pandemic may be the biggest call to action for OPC deacons in most of our lifetimes. This pandemic is certainly a disaster! But, it’s a special kind of disaster in several ways: it is characterized more by an invisible wave of fear and sickness than by a visible fire, rain, or earthquake; it is local, regional, national, and even global; the impact of this disaster is physical (sickness, even to the point of death), spiritual (fear of the unknown, especially the fear of death), and financial (lost jobs and incomes).

Ministry of Mercy

What better time for an active, even proactive, ministry of mercy? In one of the most comfortable nations in the world, deacons in our churches are rarely on the front lines of disaster. Until now! The ministry to “shut-ins” has gone from a ministry to a few individuals to a ministry to the whole church in just a few weeks. Deacons in most churches are actively seeking to assist the elderly and most vulnerable with groceries, enabling them to shelter in place without risking exposure to this virus that is so threatening to their health and well- being. Deacons are also making preparations for caring for those who may contract COVID-19 and need to receive care without infecting others. Deacons are planning for the impact of lost income on their families and looking for ways to bring financial assistance.

Further, many deacons have been called to action to assist with the logistics of online worship services and the collecting and receipting of the gifts of God’s people.

Work of the Committee on Diaconal Ministries

The Committee on Diaconal Ministries of the OPC (CDM) serves to encourage local deacons in their service locally. CDM has sought to facilitate discussion and idea-sharing amongst the deacons, particularly via the OPC Deacons closed-group Facebook page and the Mercy Minute, our quarterly e-newsletter sent out to church officers. CDM has also opened the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Fund, to which churches and individuals can contribute above and beyond the giving to their local and regional diaconates. These funds will enable CDM to participate in significant diaconal needs presented in our churches as well as to minister to sister denominations around the world, many of whom might find themselves suffering in ways far beyond what we are experiencing.

Of course, travel has been significantly curtailed by COVID-19. This may affect short-term mission trips this summer and has already prevented CDM from meeting face to face at the end of March. Planned speaking engagements and visits to fields have had to be postponed. And there are short-term visitors to fields who are having significant difficulties returning home.

The Lord Is at Work

While it is easy for us to focus on how the coronavirus may negatively impact our daily lives, we must continually remind ourselves that the Lord is at work in this. As Beaver in C. S. Lewis’s Narnia whispered, “Aslan is on the move!” The Lord is mobilizing our deacons to lead well in our churches and communities in active mercy ministry and drawing our families into an intense period of togetherness, something for which we have longed in recent years. Further, in this time of crisis and fear, true and everlasting hope that is only found in Jesus is the best ministry we can offer friends, family, and neighbors. This is not a time for despair but for looking to the Lord for strength and guidance as we seek to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for [us]” (1 Thess. 5:18). May we steward this unique season well!

 


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COVID-19 Local Resources–POAH

Helpful Resources
POAH, (Preservation of Affordable Housing) is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve, create, and sustain affordable, healthy homes that support economic security and access to opportunity for all. POAH Communities is responding actively to mitigate the threat that the COVID-19 virus poses to our residents, our staff, and the communities we serve.

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Tornados in the South

We are keeping in touch with the churches in the south where they experienced another round of tornadoes last week. Deacon Dan Zuldema from Cornerstone OPC in Chattanooga sent us this note:

Greetings from Cornerstone OPC in Chattanooga! We wanted to send this note of update to you in the wake of the storms that swept through the Chattanooga area last night. While there were areas of the city that were devastated, we are praising the Lord that everyone in our church is unharmed, and our church building is intact. One of our members was in a rental house that was completely destroyed, but by God’s grace, she was not home at the time. She is currently staying with her brother, who lives in town. (Update: She has since moved with help from the deacons at Cornerstone into a rental unit and will work with the deacons to develop a support plan.)
We would ask that you be praying for the body of Christ at Cornerstone in these ways:
  • That the Lord would be giving us all opportunities to share the reason for the hope we have with neighbors who have experienced loss, are afraid, and feeling helpless and hopeless.
  • That we would be bold in seizing opportunities to bless each other (within the church) and our neighbors (outside of the church) in their times of need and thereby bring glory to our God.
  • That the Lord would provide for Theresa in terms of a new rental arrangement and in regard to the materials that she can’t recover from her house.
As we are currently without a pastor, we have been joining Harvest OPC (in Michigan) via live stream every week. We have derived much comfort, encouragement, and support from the Presbytery of the Southeast and the broader denomination over the years, and we are extremely grateful. As a representative example, just this morning, bright and early we received a text from Mike Cloy, checking in on us to see if we were okay and if we had needs. We praise the Lord for the love and support of our sister churches in the denomination!
In a time when we don’t have a pastor, in a time when we can’t physically be together due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and in a time that our city has been ravaged by storms, we can truly say with Job that the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord! He has blessed us beyond measure—and like Job, we celebrate, even while we mourn, because our Redeemer lives! In times like these, make no mistake about it, the church of God is under attack. But by the grace of our risen Savior, as we draw near to the throne of grace, and draw together, we pray that we will emerge from these trials a stronger, purer church.
Sincerely,
Dan (for the session)
Dr. Daniel R. Zuidema

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The Love of Christ Shown

The Love of Christ Shown

Nearly a month ago, before COVID-19 had been known in the States, we attempted to send masks to our brothers and sisters in Asia but weren’t able to because of supply issues. Now, with the virus sweeping through the United States, our brothers and sisters in Asia are sending masks to us! There are currently 7,300 masks coming to us! What a wonderful testimony, not just of the global nature of this pandemic, but of the global nature of Christ’s church as one body.If you need a mask or would like to distribute them to your neighbors, please speak to one of your deacons and ask them to contact OPC Disaster Response Coordinator, David Nakhla for more information.

The map indicates everywhere that these masks have been distributed in the United States to date. Inset photos: Deacon David Watson from Reformation Fellowship OPC in Roseville, CA, gave masks to an RN in his church to take to her hospital and the flyer that went along with the masks! Praise the Lord for this provision!


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Links to Online OP Church Worship Services

Are you looking for a church service to watch during the COVID-19 shutdown? David Barr, Deacon at Emmanuel OPC, Kent, WA has created a list of OP Churches that are streaming their services online. You can find the list posted in a Google sheet by clicking the button below. Instructions on how to add your church stream can be found on the Google sheet. This is a great time to hear from pastors all over the OPC. There are blessings in this trying time! Thank you, David, for this great resource! 

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Opportunity Amid the Pandemic

“Please rejoice with us and give praise to God! He has turned the Coronavirus crisis in to an opportunity to show the love of Christ to all we helped so far through food distribution and pray that the Lord would use the gospel declaration that we have been putting in each box for delivery to point them to Jesus Christ who is the bread of eternal life and draw them to the Worship of God at Redeemer. 

Praise God! Today was the second round of food distribution to the families of Eritrean refugees and residents in Clarkston whose family income has been affected by the pandemic. We are very thankful to the Lord for the leaders of the Eritrean

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