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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