OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries

Helping to Train, Encourage &
Connect Deacons
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Who Helps the Local Deacon?

You probably wouldn’t have to go far to find a deacon who sometimes feels overloaded. The range of diaconal duties can be overwhelming, even for a seasoned, well-experienced deacon. Why? Well, it may have to do with why he accepted the call in the first place.

For a deacon, it probably started with a need. A need that raised him from his chair and put him into action. Deacons care. Maybe it started with him helping to distribute flyers for Vacation Bible School. Maybe he saw that elderly woman who needed help to her pew. Or maybe he saw the same guy doing “everything” behind the scenes and it caused him to say, “I can probably help.” A deacon is one who has a heart for helping where help is needed.

So, who takes care of the local deacon when he is over-taxed, and needs help or advice himself? With the same desire that a deacon has to fulfill a need in his congregation, the men of the OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries desire to serve the local deacon, in the midst of his load.

The OPC diaconate is a group of over 800 men! Imagine the blessing to a deacon if he had someone to pray with or with whom he could share burdens or a quick phone call for advice? Maybe he just needs to be encouraged by someone who knows what he’s going through. Some deacons are the lone deacon in a small congregation; others are a member of a large diaconal board.  Either way they are a part of a much larger support system—men who are often balancing similar types of loads.

If you are a deacon, you might be saying, “Well, I’m really not feeling that. Praise the Lord, things are kind of low-key right now and I don’t really feel over-burdened.” Ok, but what if you could be the load-lifter for another deacon?

With the postponement of the National Diaconal Summit to 2022, the Committee on Diaconal Ministries is offering an online event that won’t replace being together in Chicago in June, but just might be the most encouraging Zoom call you have during COVID. Fellowship, encouragement, and equipping each other, even if you’re miles apart. 
 
Deacons deal with the same questions and the same situations, yet often feel like they are on their own. The CDM wants to connect more of the 800 men more often, and that can’t wait until the summer 2022. Strength and encouragement for our deacons can’t wait another year until we can meet. 

So, why is the CDM event, “Continuing the Conversation”, so important? Deacons need a place to talk. Deacons need a place and a way to support each other. COVID has challenged that. “CtC” is our answer. Join us. We’ll talk, pray, encourage and make plans to do that more often and in different ways.

There are already 66 men registered to be on the call. If you are a deacon and have not yet committed to this 90-minute event on June 12th, please do so now. It will take you just two minutes to register. Go to: OPCCDM.org/continuing-the-conversation.


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Ministering to Body and Soul

When Pastor Melaku Solomon Tamirat arrived in this country with his two sons in April 2019 to join his wife, Meron, he had already been serving for 20 years as a pastor in the Reformed Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Ethiopia. He had known ROPC pastor, Zecharias Weldeyesus, since they had met at a church conference in Pretoria, South Africa, in 2005, and the latter soon engaged Melaku in helping with ROPC’s ministry to refugees in Clarkston (recently named Redeemer Mercy Ministry).

When Pastor Chris Cashen left the position as leader of ROPC’s work in Clarkston in August 2020, Melaku stepped into this role in a provisional capacity. ROPC members recently voted to call him to this position, which will be become official, says Zaki, once Melaku passes upcoming OPC committee and presbytery exams. With a bachelor’s degree in theology, Melaku has completed an English course here and is currently taking additional theology courses at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Taylors, SC, to satisfy the Presbytery requirement for transfer of his credentials.

Melaku did not begin his career as an adherent to Reformed theology. He grew up in the Eastern Orthodox Church, which taught that there are many ways to salvation, numerous mediators in addition to Jesus, and sacred texts outside the Bible. “I read the Bible—specifically, Acts 4:12, John 14:6, and John 17:3—and saw that it said salvation is through Jesus,” he says. When he began teaching this truth in his church’s youth group, the church wanted him out, despite the fact that many were converted.

After reading and understanding a book of systematic theology translated into Amharic by a pastor in Virginia, Melaku says he accepted the Reformed faith, attended seminary through distance learning, passed the exam, and was ordained by OPC missionaries.

Since then, he worked in church planting, helping grow 13 churches throughout Ethiopia, with many people being converted to Christ.

When Melaku arrived in the U.S. with sons Nathan (14) and Japheth (10), he had seen his wife only once since 2013, when she fled Ethiopia to escape being arrested as a result of conflict among three competing ethnic groups, the Oromo, Amhara, and Tigray. Here in the U.S., he says, this conflict among the three groups is moot—”the three tribes worship together, no problem.” But back there at that time, the TPLF government (Tigray group in power at that time) tried to attack Meron’s father and arrest Meron when she wouldn’t relinquish her father’s family home. They ended up taking it by force, and her father had to move in with other family members.

Meron has since acquired her green card in this country, and Melaku and their children are on track to do so as well, with the ultimate goal of becoming U.S. citizens.

In his role at Redeemer Mercy Ministry, Melaku leads Bible studies on Saturday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00 in Zaki’s home and on Zoom in Amharic on Friday nights from 7:30 to 8:30, in addition to a YouTube ministry. He has a good relationship with the local Ethiopian church community and has preached numerous times in local churches in Lilburn and Stone Mountain as well as to more distant churches by Zoom, in Virginia and even Norway. He works with local churches to identify refugees in need of food from ROPC’s resources. And he recently started a counseling service for refugees via cell phone.

Looking ahead to the time post-pandemic when in-person Bible studies can again be held in ROPC’s rental unit at Brentwood Apartments in Decatur, Melaku has written a plan for Redeemer Mercy Ministry, which includes ESL classes. “Most refugees’ biggest problem is English,” he says. He wants to offer English tutoring using the Bible as a teaching tool, thereby pursuing two goals at once. And he has plans for a literature ministry, including producing a tract in Amharic with his contact information.

What are the ministry’s needs, going forward? “We need volunteers to teach English to adult refugees and prayer that Covid 19 would go away and in-person activities would resume.”


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God’s Big Heart for Aliens

by Zecharias Weldeyesus, Pastor, Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Atlanta (taken from Redeemer Mercy Ministry Clarkston newsletter, March 2021)

God has a big heart for refugees and strangers among his people. In both the Old and New Testaments, the Lord commands his people to welcome and love the sojourners in their midst. And it is for that very purpose that Redeemer Mercy Ministry in the city of Clarkston started to exist, by God’s grace: To welcome and embrace all refugees from all nations in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who himself was a refugee here on earth. To help them to be assimilated in the American culture and system, to teach them English, to provide assistance in their immigration cases, and to provide diaconal aid in the areas where they have physical needs.

Redeemer Mercy Ministry fulfills all the above acts of mercy to demonstrate Christ’s love to refugees and ultimately point them to the person and work of Christ for the salvation of sinners through the study of God’s word being led by the evangelist. The ministry also gives them the opportunity to be part of God’s worship at Redeemer OPC.

I ask all who love refugees in the name of Christ to support this unique ministry by prayer, and whenever the Lord enables you financially, to bring eternity into the lives of aliens and strangers.


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