Meet Your Fellow Deacons
 
This series is featured in our quarterly e-newsletter, “The Mercy Minute“.  
If you would like to see your diaconate featured, please contact Allison Hill.
 

Meet Your Fellow Deacon Pete Hybert

By Allison Hill, Administrative Assistant for the OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries

Pete Hybert has been a deacon at Bethel OPC, Wheaton, IL since 1993, and privileged to have a front-row seat to watch the Lord work in many people’s lives. His take-away from it all? Amazement. He says, “You get to see the Lord work. Sometimes it’s not what you expected, but it’s still amazing.”

Pete’s stint as a deacon includes a period when he was the sole deacon. He’s helped walk-ins with various short-term needs, church members with long-term needs and those seeking assistance with a tragedy or disaster. Each situation poses a unique opportunity to see the Lord’s hand of mercy work through the local church. For Pete, this is even true in situations in which it seems there is little headway and temporary discouragement.

Pete knows that it is a privilege to be a small part of demonstrating mercy in tangible ways. That is what he says drew him to mercy ministry. “What I like about diaconal work is the practical side of it.” Pete currently works as a full-time consultant but describes himself as a “jack-of-all trades”. From fast food to working in construction, Pete has found that his wide background and the diverse experiences of his fellow deacons helps them all minister and relate to many.

Mindful of the power of sacrificial giving Pete says with humble confidence, “It’s not that we are genius deacons, and it’s not about trying to do it all. It’s about doing what you can.” “[If] you are able to share time with people, do something that matters to them in the immediate term, and you can talk to them while you do it. That’s what I like about it.” While the goal is to foster independence, “Getting to know people and have them understand their God-given value as an image-bearer [is] something only speaking with them can do [and] it gives you a heart to pray for their salvation.”

Though there have been memorable times of fellowship in helping people move or pumping out flooded basements, Pete has a heart for serving those with disabilities. He and his wife, Faith, a former special needs educator assistant, both have considerable experience caring for and working with people who have long-term needs and disabilities. Serving those individuals and helping them succeed in their own capacities is one of the most enjoyable types of mercy ministry for him. “I try to encourage them and end up being encouraged by them. It’s been rewarding to do what is in our reach to come alongside them.” There is one member of the congregation with long-term needs Pete gratefully says, fuels his work.

“Of course we are willing to help others that we may never see again, but it’s nice to serve people you see and can continue to minister to, physically and spiritually, even when there is little hope of their situation changing.” The ultimate goal is building biblically-founded relationships with people over time.

“It’s always great to see results: growth or even change,” Pete says. As deacons, there is great joy in observing the hand of the Lord in the lives of those you serve.


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Meet Your Fellow Deacon Bob Keys

By Hannah White, Intern
Intern, OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries

With nearly 40 years of diaconal experience at one church, Bob Keys has many stories to tell and much wisdom to share. Bob has a passion for diaconal ministries as shown in his service to Grace OPC as a deacon since 1982, as a member of the Committee on Diaconal Ministries for over 6 years, as well as his current service at the Presbytery level for the Ohio Presbytery Diaconal Committee. He has been happily married to his wife, Kathy, for 42 years and together they have a son and a daughter and seven grandchildren. 

However, Bob’s story begins long before his work as a deacon or before he was even born—nearly 175 years ago. Two of his great-great grandfathers, John Keys and Isaac Patterson, who were faithful Christians and members of the same Presbyterian and reformed church, actively participated in the underground railroad which moved fugitive slaves north along a route in Ohio beginning from 1840s, to  the 1850s. They would feed, hide, and encourage these slaves before transporting them 120 miles to freedom in Canada. Bob recounts this story, “My forbearers were not concerned about the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 where they would have been thrown into prison for these actions. They knew full well the consequences of their actions but were convinced they were doing what was right—no matter the punishment. They were the deacons of that age.” 

Bob not only grew up hearing these stories of the faithfulness of his forefathers, but also got to witness the importance of diaconal ministry firsthand through the service and sacrifice demonstrated by his parents, particularly his father, who was the sole deacon of their church. “I experienced both my mother and father’s faithful service of helping those in need, providing transportation to and from our church as well as opening and closing the church each Lord’s Day. They never questioned if it would profit them to do these things. They never thought how much harder these things made life for them.” He recalls learning from serving alongside with his father from a young age. One of the stories he recalls, required him to fill a silo for one of their neighbors, who was diagnosed with cancer and unable to do it himself. The experience he gained as a boy and the examples set forth by his parents have significantly shaped him as a deacon.

Bob serves in a six-man diaconate at Grace OPC alongside Paul Archer, Charlie Ardovino, Jason Garrett, Andrew Stafford, and Steven Wise. Bob and Paul have served together at Grace OPC for over 40 years! Their years of diaconal service and experience together have been a tremendous blessing to Bob. “I know full-well that I would not have made it through these many years (at least in one piece) without my faithful, wise friend and brother, Paul.” Even though there have been many difficult times in the last 40 years, Bob is very thankful for the brothers who serve alongside him in diaconal ministries. Bob says fondly, “We have never in 40 years split our diaconate or divided with our eldership [over] difficult issues. What a blessing to be able to say this!”

One of Bob’s favorite ministries with the diaconate was leading a group from the church to Victory Missions, a local ministry that assisted the poor and needy in their annual “Turkey Pull”. It began when the volunteers were asked to pull pieces of frozen turkey apart [and] put them into bags to distribute with other canned and boxed food for the neighborhood in the weeks leading up to Christmas. [In] later [years], the frozen turkey meat got replaced with canned meats, however, the term “Turkey Pull” remained famous and a beloved service project for decades. 

Now Bob’s passion is to see a godly diaconate continue through the mentoring of older deacons teaching young men to learn how to love mercy in wisdom and truth. “If we do not have another generation of deacons following us, we will lose the long-term leadership of mercy ministry in our church. It is much more than teaching a man theology to make him a deacon.  Men need to learn to be men of God, wise to serve and eager to love mercy. This is learned by doing, by serving, by carefully watching a mature deacon in action.” Continue to pray for current diaconates across the world as well as the shaping of future generations of deacons to come. 

Should you ever have the chance to meet Bob Keys in person, ask him to tell you one of his stories. His passion and love for mercy ministry is contagious.


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Meet Your Fellow Deacon: Jack Frahm

Meet Jack Frahm, Deacon, Covenant OPC, San Jose, CA

Jack Frahm admits that some aspects of being a deacon are a struggle for him. Sitting down to talk to people is outside of his comfort zone. “I’ve really had to grow as a deacon by taking the time to build relationships with people—to actively listen. It’s so much easier for me to ask, ‘what’s the problem and how do I fix it? Let’s do it.’ And sometimes that’s not what’s called for. It’s more of a need for a shoulder to cry on.”

Jack has lived within 30 minutes of the same place for over 30 years—somewhat ironic, since in his teens he couldn’t wait to move away and explore! “I grew up in Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church on Leigh Avenue and lived a block away from the church. My parents’ house was just down the street so we would often walk to, church, and functions at the church and I remember thinking as a kid how I just couldn’t wait to get out of the Bay Area. I wanted to travel!” Obviously, God had other ideas.

Growing up, Jack admittedly gave his parents a run for their money; adopted when he was five years old, he pushed the limits of his parents’ Christian, loving, guidance and at 18, Jack found himself in serious trouble with law enforcement. His father reassured him, “You’re my son, and we’re not going to abandon you.” That was a turning point in Jack’s life—a pivotal moment. Soon after, Jack made a public profession of faith at 20 years old. Jack married his wife, Michelle, 25 years ago and they have three children, Caleb, Ethan and Grace; the boys in college and Grace, a senior in high school.

Jack has been serving as a deacon for nearly ten years at Covenant OPC, San Jose, California. Even before officially being ordained as a deacon, he felt drawn to helping, “[Going] to the church workdays, helping to clean up after committee meetings, ushering, doing all the different little things that you can [to] help at church and then an elder comes along and taps you on the shoulder, ‘have you ever considered being a deacon?’ And so it kind of just seems like a natural outflow of how I feel, that all church members should be relatively active with their local church. Doing things, helping in any way they can. I’m kind of a handyman; ‘Jack of all trades’. I often get teased because I’m mechanically inclined and if something is broken, I’d rather fix it, rather than throw it away. I think the gift that God has given me is wanting to fix things and a willingness to just jump in and figure it out.” 

Covenant OPC is no stranger to outreach in their community. For several years, the deacons at Covenant led the church in ministry to the downtown homeless community until lack of participation made it impossible to continue. Since then, the deacons then began leading the church toward working with a faith-based ministry called, CityTeam

Through CityTeam, Covenant OPC has adopted a low-income housing community in an apartment complex. Covenant supplies all the food for a year and the congregation hands out food in the hopes of creating some relationships. Jack and his diaconate is encouraged, “We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve had to turn some church folks away that want to help. We get 20 or so folks from our congregation who want to participate in the program. This ministry began during the pandemic, and like many other things, has been a challenge. The model for the program is a sort of marketplace where folks come down from their apartments, come through and pick things up from the table, offering an opportunity to interact and share the gospel. With the pandemic, we’ve had to alter and deliver boxes of food to apartments; ring a doorbell and wait the few minutes hoping that someone will come to the door while we’re there so that we can talk.” 

“The challenge has been in how to take it to that next level of making sure that the gospel is presented. Please pray that the opportunities continue to grow and continue to be fruitful. There are now other churches that want to partner with us to help at this food pantry, and if it gets to the point where we have 30 or so people, we may be able to open another pantry. We could possibly serve two different locations!”

Covenant’s four-man diaconate is made up of diverse backgrounds, which lends itself to healthy conversation and decision-making—even as meetings have been restricted to meeting virtually. Jack, Miguel Alvarado, Steve Trigero and Juan Valle don’t always agree, but Jack says they work well together and he’s thankful for them.

Jack has been encouraged in his diaconal service at the generosity of the congregation and their willingness to try to help folks. But Jack also admits, from time to time, he is more discouraged than encouraged, giving him an opportunity to pray for wisdom in how to better serve.


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