Are You Listening?

by Trish Duggan, Producer of The Reformed Deacon

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since the Committee on Diaconal Ministries started producing a podcast for deacons called, The Reformed Deacon. I really hope you’ve come to look forward to its release each first of the month. I have the privilege of being the podcast’s producer, (as well as an OP deacon’s wife) and it’s amazing for me to hear the breadth of wisdom within our denomination. We’ve got some incredible guys serving as the hands and feet of Christ, and I hope that is well represented in the podcast.

Also exciting is knowing who is listening! In addition to our North American following, we have listeners in Europe, Africa, Oceania, Asia and South America. We currently have just about 150 subscribers. We, of course, hope that will grow, so share an episode with a deacon-friend. I think you’ll agree, there’s really nothing out there like it. I’ve even heard that some in other reformed denominations are listening, too!

The CDM launched the podcast in November 2021 with an interview of a local deacon from Shiloh OPC in Raleigh, NC, Tim Hopper. That podcast has nearly 900 downloads—our most popular to date (don’t tell Tim!) Following close behind is “Church Safety in the 21st Century” with nearly 750 downloads and “Disabilities and the Church” at 522 downloads. If you haven’t listened to those yet, I hope their popularity will encourage you to. I can remember distinctly while recording interviews with OP elder Matt Butler and Pastor Stephen Tracey, thinking, “everyone should know this stuff!”

The goal of this podcast is to encourage deacons in their service to the local church, and we sincerely hope we are accomplishing that. The Committee on Diaconal Ministry’s plan for 2023 is to focus in on four areas: encouragement, practice, resources and doctrine. By breaking it down like this, we hope to give you well-rounded content that is useful in all aspects of your ministry.

I’m particularly excited about January’s episode. It’s a little different than our usual interview-style. Three deacons, with a collective near-60 years of experience, spend time talking through two different fictitious and difficult case studies involving walk-ins. One of the cases included, “A woman named Jane comes to the church. You’re the only person at the church setting up for a meeting that people will arrive for in an hour. She tells you her boyfriend is abusing her and is after her right now and she needs your help to keep her safe. Her boyfriend is probably only a couple minutes behind her, and she needs a place to hide out.” Do you know what would you do? Each panelist, using policies developed in their own diaconates, was able to propose some steps in showing the love of Christ. You won’t want to miss this one. We plan to release more Real World Cases in 2023. 

We are always looking for new and creative content and love suggestions, so please, if you are a year-long listener or you’ve just discovered the podcast, contact us: mail@thereformeddeacon.org.

We truly hope the podcast has been an encouragement to you and we pray that the Lord continues to bless it as a resource to all!


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Coming Together as Deacons: NDS IV 2022

photo by OPC Member, Katie Plas

As many of you know, the OPC National Diaconal Summits have always been an exciting time for the OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries. This year was no different. Nearly 200 men (deacons, deacons-in-training, elders, and pastors) traveled to Wheaton, Illinois for our fourth National Diaconal Summit, June 2-4. The purpose of the Summit is straight-forward: training, encouragement, and refreshment to strengthen the brotherhood of deacons. I had the unique privilege of attending the Summit, as the OPC CDM’s Communications Coordinator. 

The Summit agenda gave time for instruction during plenary sessions and then again in small group workshops. Mealtimes, where men sat with other deacons from their presbyteries and end-of-the-day free time allowed for men to get to know one another in a casual setting. The entire experience has proven in the past to be a unique one. But this conference isn’t just about formal learning. It’s about building comradery, deepening relationships, and finding there is diaconal strength in numbers. 

On Friday evening, I had the amazing opportunity to fall into a lengthy conversation with deacon Rob Moser, a warm, well-spoken, unassuming man from Grace and Peace OPC in California, MD. I knew Rob, or at least I thought I did. I had met him via Zoom when his local church reached out to OPC Disaster Response for a member of their church, whose house had flooded and needed repair. But now was an opportunity to talk face to face. 

After sitting down in a lounge area in Fischer Hall on the Wheaton College campus, Rob readily shared with me the tragic story of his only son who died from a heroin overdose. He’s surprisingly open about it, in the hopes that others can be encouraged, but admittedly, I was caught off-guard. Rob described the battle with their son over his addiction as being exhausting, both physically and financially. He related the years of torment and then the tragic end, where his son was found on the couch, in their home. The battle was finally over, but in its wake, left unimaginable pain for his wife, his daughter and him. Throughout this tumultuous time, Rob was open with his church, and they supported the Mosers, in love and in prayer. 

It’s been six years of grief now, but Rob, through the sadness, seems uniquely energized by what has happened. He knows the Lord has sustained and grown him. This tragedy has, by God’s grace, allowed him to reach out in a distinctive way in an area of town near his home, known for drugs and deep desperation. Rob recounted how he met a young woman hanging around a store, begging for money. He got her something to eat and she quickly confided in him that she was an addict, that she wanted very badly to get help, and added, “you probably wouldn’t understand.” Of course, Rob knew all too well and God was using Rob’s story to open a door. 

The woman explained that she had a job interview coming up and needed proper clothes. He offered to take her to the store, and stressed that it was, “in the name of Jesus.” He explained that the money for the clothes (and the meal she had just eaten) would come from his church. She was receptive and even expressed interest in attending church with him the next day. Sadly, Rob never saw her after that night, even after some searching. He’s encouraged to know that a seed had been planted. 

As I listened, I realized, this kind of conversation can’t happen remotely. It made me thankful for Rob’s openness and the reminder that the Lord uses all our challenges for His good. This is one big part of what the Summit is about, and I imagined conversations something like this happening frequently over those three days.

The Summit ended on Saturday, after lunch and some final goodbyes. Mine and Rob’s included. 

Please pray with the CDM that that the deacons who attended were encouraged and readied for the challenges of their Kingdom work in the local church, and that long-term relationships were begun.

 


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