OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries
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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


Crates for Ukraine Update

We are just over halfway to our goal of registering 400 crates by March 1! The response from churches has been amazing thus far. Thank you for your willingness to help those in need. If you haven’t registered yet, there is still time. There are now 29 local drop-off locations around the U.S. for you to consider. Check the list of participating OPC, PCA and other organizations who are serving as drop-off points to see if there is one close to you. The list of drop-off locations can be found here (scroll down to the green box). Find out more about the Crate for Ukraine program by visiting: https://www.cratesforukraine.com

We’re happy to provide contact information to churches or individuals who are interested in getting in touch with a drop-off location. Please email opcdisasterresponse@opc.org to request more information, or if you need any assistance.


Working Together for Ukraine

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” — I John 3:17 

Grace Chung, member of Orthodox Presbyterian Church Franklin Square (New York), was reminded of that verse as she participated in packing supplies and aid to be sent to Ukraine as a part of the Crates for Ukraine initiative.

She says, “The congregation at OPC Franklin Square watched a video update that Pastor Lloyd Sterrett shared from Lviv, Ukraine during one of our Sunday School hours. We were moved by the ongoing support efforts and how God was clearly working in this war-torn country. Upon quick glance at the website detailing the Crates for Ukraine effort, I felt I could volunteer to help coordinate at our church.” This project was embraced by others in her church and immediately plans were formed to gather supplies and pack the crates.

Overall, OPC Disaster Response has been amazed by the response of churches across the denomination to the call to participate in the Crates for Ukraine initiative. We are immensely thankful for all the churches that have registered so far, excited to see how many more will participate, and grateful to the Lord for the way he is using this project to bring so many churches together in order to support and build up the global church.

At this time, at least 40 OPC congregations have committed to filling crates for Ukraine. In fact, some churches, like Living Hope OPC in Gettysburg, PA, have planned and devoted entire evenings to sharing information about Crates for Ukraine, learning more about the ministry taking place in Eastern Europe, and praying for the war situation and for the churches in the midst of it all. The people of Living Hope even tried Ukrainian foods together, including a traditional Ukrainian soup called Borscht.

If you haven’t already committed to helping, the time to get involved is now! The deadline to register your crates is March 1, 2023. This is a wonderful opportunity for your church to grow together in service, as well as care for your brothers and sisters in need across the globe. Grace Chung found it easy to participate, “I think MTW did a great job overall facilitating the participation of CFU. The instructions and supply lists were generally clear and easy to follow.” Join with her and many others in supporting the church in Ukraine, offering a demonstration of the love of Christ to those suffering in the midst of war.

You can find more information by visiting OPCDisasterResponse.org. If you have any questions about the process, please email diaconalministries@opc.org.