Seeing the Lifeline Connection Among Saints

by Trish Duggan, Communications Coordinator for the Committee on Diaconal Ministries

David Nakhla, Administrator for the Committee on Diaconal Ministries, recently returned from a seven-day trip to Ukraine, with two others from the OPCdeacon from Covenant OPC in Orland Park, IL and CDM member, John Voss and OPC Communications coordinator, Jamie Deanalong with MTW Ukraine Country Director, John Eide. Their excursion began in Poland, where they met up with a Ukrainian woman, Olena, who escorted them by van over the border to L’viv, Ukraine. In the past year, Olena has made this over six-hour trip regularly, transporting over 1300 crates of supplies for the summer edition of Crates for Ukraine (CFU) and, Lord willing, will continue as the winter crates begin arriving from the states.

While in L’viv, the group was able to meet with OPC missionary Heero Hacquebord, visit his church’s building, Holy Trinity EPCU, tour the CFU warehouse, and meet the CFU distribution team. There is a huge sense of gratitude to all, which was particularly expressed to the OPC during the visit, for standing with them at this time. MTW team member, Doug Shepherd, in expressing his gratitude, described the OPC as “punching above our weight class.” In total, the OPC family was able to contribute 307 of the over 1300 total crates to Dallas and Chattanooga in the Crates for Ukraine Winter Edition effort.

There is a great sense of fulfillment from the distribution teams in passing on these gifts. The church’s website and access to the Ukrainian publishing house is posted on each gift as a way of incorporating gospel outreach with the distribution of supplies. The church views this as sowing many seeds in many directions. Recipients report the quality of the CFU items are far superior to what is coming to Ukraine via other channels and are saving lives.

The group then moved east on to Odessa, where life, as in L’viv, is operating at some level of normalcy, despite the circumstances. That said, they are all “affected people”, and as such they each suffer some level of PTSD.  Many feel a level of “survivor guilt”, hearing of the circumstances of those who live near the front or even in occupied territory, and where homes have been looted and/or destroyed. Further, while there is a degree of difficulty living as the “survivors”, this conflict is not over, there are no guarantees for tomorrow and a shadow of darkness looms large. Many are clinging to God’s sovereignty and care while some wrestle with understanding why God allows the horrific aspects of this war to persist.

The CFU effort has been a lifeline of connection between the mission team, the EPCU, and the church back in the States. It’s not been easy, but certainly worthwhile and has brought helpful connectionalism.

Thank you for your church’s participation in Crates for Ukraine. Further reports from the team’s visit to Ukraine are being written and will be distributed in the months to come. 


Earthquake Relief for Turkey

By Jamie Dean

In the hours after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck southeast Turkey on February 6, the thoughts of one Reformed pastor in the region turned to the book of Job: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return; The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

By the end of the week, the losses were soaring in Turkey and neighboring Syria. Officials reported more than 21,000 people dead, and expected the death toll to climb as rescue missions turn into recovery efforts among mountains of rubble. Thousands more are injured, homeless, and shellshocked by the deadliest earthquake to strike Turkey in nearly a century.

Three days after the earthquake struck, the OPC’s Committee on Diaconal Ministries (CDM) established the Turkey Earthquake Fund [link here], offering an avenue for OPC members to assist with ministries of mercy to this devastated region. 

David Nakhla, the coordinator for OPC Disaster Response, says the funds administered through the CDM will go to fraternal connections in the region seeking to offer tangible relief in the name of Christ. The OPC has avenues for ministry through sister churches in the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC). 

“Given the magnitude of the destruction and the loss of life that occurred almost instantaneously in both Turkey and northern Syria, the OPC is compelled to be involved in showing the compassion and mercy of Christ, even in the form of a cup of cold water given in His name,” said Nakhla. 

The magnitude of the needs is overwhelming.

A Reformed pastor serving in the region reported that he and other church members in the western part of the country were unscathed by the quake in the southeast, but he described the scale of the disaster for those directly affected: “This is one of the biggest catastrophes that has ever happened in our country.”

He said Christian families were waiting to hear from their loved ones in the southeast, as the window narrowed for rescuers to reach victims trapped under the rubble in freezing temperatures: “On top of this, millions of people are homeless and almost all families have lost someone.”

The spiritual needs in Turkey are overwhelming as well. An estimated 97 percent of the country’s 84 million people are Muslim. The number of Protestant Christians in the Middle Eastern nation is tiny, and conditions for churches are often difficult. 

But the small churches have big opportunities for ministry in the days ahead, as believers seek to care for their members and to love their neighbors in need of physical help and the spiritual hope of the gospel. 

Some have noted that the quake struck near the city known in the New Testament as Antioch— the place where the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11). As believers offer urgent help in same region thousands of years later, they’re praying for many to call on Christ again. 

Nakhla says the OPC is grateful to have avenues to help through sister churches, and the CDM trusts the funds will be used responsibly and get to those who need help most. 

“It is the privilege of the CDM to serve the church by opening this fund and by communicating the needs and the ways to help, as those become apparent,” he said. “May the Lord be glorified in using this awful event to draw his people to himself, even as the gospel is demonstrated tangibly through this ministry of mercy.”

To contribute to the Turkey Earthquake Fund online, click here

To contribute by check, make checks payable to “Orthodox Presbyterian Church,” and designate for “Turkey Earthquake Fund.” Mail to The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 607 Easton Rd., Bldg E, Willow Grove, PA 19090


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:

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!