OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries
Helping to Train, Encourage & Connect Deacons






 The Latest

Long-Term Refugee Ministry: Report from Calvary OPC, Glenside, PA

by Jessica Hulsey

Calvary OPC in Glenside, Pennsylvania has been sacrificially serving a refugee family from Afghanistan since last year. In a recent report about their ministry to their congregation, Jessica Hulsey, the coordinator of the effort, wrote, reflecting on the ministry. 

Jessica tells us that approximately six or seven members of the church are actively involved in this ministry on a regular basis and others jump in as needed. She admits it’s no small task, but extremely rewarding. The family is checked on by phone daily and visited by two individuals weekly. As you’ll read, they’ve gotten to know the family well, and although the family has not attended church regularly, there seems to be a strong bond between the family and Calvary OPC. 

We’ve asked permission to run this report to inspire and possibly help other churches in their efforts to minister to refugees in their area. The following is her report with the names changed to protect the family’s privacy and dignity. 

Calvary OPC in Glenside, Pa. has had the privilege of supporting a refugee family from Afghanistan for the past year. In the life of a refugee and those fleeing their home country, this probably feels like an eternity as they work to get on their feet. But for those of us watching and helping them, it has gone so quickly.

Just to remind you who we have in our family (names have been changed):

  • Hakimah: The amazing woman/wife/mother of the home just delivered another baby in December. Her intelligent wit and practical skills have helped the family in the past year. She continues to take care of the family with serious home cooking, daily fresh bread, and grocery shopping. She also walks three of the kids to school and has done a fabulous job picking up English in her spare time. She has learned the CHOP pediatric circuit for vaccines and well visits along with obstetric appointments for herself during pregnancy. She does well finding the proper groceries for her family as they adjust culturally to America. So far, we know one of the children likes pizza!

  • Hafiz: The father of the family started his groundskeeping job in June at a golf course. He enjoys being outdoors as he was a farmer before doing security for the U.S. government. His boss has been extremely supportive and has even offered to give him a car once he gets his license. We are thankful for his English skills as he is our primary contact for the family.

  • Lashkar has been working as a painter in Philadelphia along with his uncle. He has progressed well with his English.

  • Eachan, our quiet and shy teenager who is 15 and now at a school in Philadelphia that has a program for English language learners. He is much happier at this school yet struggling to communicate as he is shy; hard when learning another language.

  • Afsana, “Mayor of Philadelphia—2035”. Seriously, this kid could do it! He has the personality and determination. His motivation, new school and amazing teacher have been the perfect storm. He is thriving! Afsana continues to be so helpful within the family unit and enjoys chatting with visitors in the home.

  • Delruba still lives in Afghanistan, and this has been a tough situation for all. Although Delruba would like to be in the U.S. with the family and they would prefer that. (His grandparents were left behind and wanted one child to remain with them.)

  • Afsar’s teacher emailed this week letting us know that there has been great improvement just over the past month. He was really struggling, and we weren’t sure what was best. This note of encouragement was helpful. The goal is to get him into the same school as Afsana next fall.

  • Baser & Baset: Oh boy! We are so thankful for their gracious teacher as she works with these two:) We would appreciate your prayers for behavioral skills. They are professionals at beating one another up but we hope for a better outcome with school and maturity as they age. Please pray for wisdom as we navigate this situation and knowing what would be most helpful for them.

  • Zafar went through MAJOR brain surgery this year and recovered well. He goes back in May for an appointment and may need one more reconstructive surgery for his brain with neurology and the plastics departments at CHOP. He is still home with Hakimah during the day.

  • Lily, the newest member of the family as of Dec 7. She is our first family US citizen!

We have found a family pediatrician through Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that has chosen to take on all the children as her patients and making sure we follow up with proper checkups. We have found some blood levels that have been a bit off due to parasites or genetic diseases, but we are working through each one. The lead levels have increased in the younger children over the year. Lead remediation services have taken place, but we are still battling this. The immigration process has been a bit trying. Please pray for a Calvary member and attorney, as she connects with lawyers for Asylum and Special Visas. Afghan families have been told they have two years to get a visa to stay in the USA. The two-year mark for our family is Sept 2023. That is very soon. Our assumption is that the U.S. government isn’t going to send them home, but we want to be diligent and need your prayers.

Please continue to pray for the housing situation for all three families in the area. Hafiz’s brother lives in North Philadelphia. Hafiz had another brother killed by the Taliban. His wife and children live in Northeast Philadelphia. Pray for wisdom as the churches work together to find the right area, pricing, and homes for the families to live in community together.

We are thankful for Calvary and the Deacons fund and how we as a church have been able to support this family over the last year with rent, bus passes, food, English, bed bugs, doctor visits and so much more. They have expressed their gratitude time and time again!

Please continue to pray that God would use Calvary and those who visit to reveal Himself to the family. We love them and are so thankful for the opportunity to have them in our lives. We want to encourage you that even if you haven’t been actively involved, they are very thankful for the church’s help. 

When asked, Jessie believes the two most important things a church should consider before beginning an outreach like this is to have the support from the church’s leadership—including the deacons, as they were able to work with the deacons on funding certain items over the past year for the family. The second, some real commitment from church members. She admits the process is wonderful, but also challenging. “You need to know that there will be people helping long term even when it gets hard,” she adds.
If you have any questions regarding Calvary’s ministry, or you are thinking of beginning a ministry like this at your church, Jessica would be glad to talk to you. You can reach her by email: jessica.hulsey@gmail.com.  


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.