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

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 The Latest

May Ukraine Crisis Fund Update

May 16, 2022

To date, the OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries has received over $623,230.00 in donations for the Ukrainian Crisis!

We thank God for the charity of his church and for all those who have sought to aid individuals and churches in crisis. As God is gracious in providing funds for the provision of the most needy across the globe, it is also needful for those resources to be stewarded wisely and in a way that is most effective in filling needs. The OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries senses the weight of this responsibility to faithfully allocate all funds received. Such a task requires a close-up look into the situation in the region and personal contact with those affected by the war. Administrator for the Committee on Diaconal Ministries David Nakhla seeks to do just that during his time in Eastern Europe as he makes contact specifically with like-minded churches and ministries native to the region.

As of May 16th David, along with Rich Bout, were en route to Lithuania having just visited cities in Hungary and Poland. The Lord was faithful in providing insight along the way as they faced each new day, city, and circumstance. David reported:

“The most needy population is still in Ukraine with scarce resources, yet seeing a hotel filled with just mothers and their children outside Ukraine demonstrates how vulnerable the refugee population is as well. Keep praying for the various needs of the Ukrainian people. It has been encouraging to see the church serving in whatever ways they possibly can: gathering and shipping supplies, coordinating housing and transport, teaching languages, providing teaching and activities for children, etc. We praise the Lord in hearing about how the churches, both in Ukraine, and outside are overflowing with worshippers. It seems the Lord will use this awful situation for the spread of the gospel. Pray to that end. The gospel is truly the only hope.”

Just a few days later, David recounted the “harrowing story of survival in and escape from Mariupol” one woman shared. He conveyed the scene:

“Boiling dirty snow on the sidewalk, fearful of incoming missiles that hit without warning sirens. Due to the lack of water or heat, bathing was not an option for weeks. One lady shared that once she was able to remove her socks, it was like they had become one with her skin. To leave the city, they had to face the difficult decision of whether to brave driving through the supposed “humanitarian corridor” and be shot in the back or braving the humiliating search and interrogation procedures of the Russian army in order to pass through the front into Russia. They opted for the latter and seemed to still be shaken and humiliated by what they endured. . . They are thankful to have found a safe haven with the saints in Lithuania.”

Please keep the people of Ukraine in your prayers, as well as all those in Eastern Europe affected by the war. Specific updates on the work of missionaries and sister churches to aid refugees in the region will be provided as they become available.

Want to know more? A more detailed report of David’s visit will be included in May’s edition of the STORM Report. You can sign up for the newsletter here.


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Mercy Ministry to Ukraine

War certainly isn’t an everyday ministry of mercy for the OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries, however, because of our missionaries in L’viv, the crisis in Ukraine was an instant priority. For the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, this sudden need falls under the category of OPC Disaster Response. But, unlike other disasters, and for obvious reasons, “boots on the ground” may not be possible in this situation, although opportunities may be opening up through Mission to the World, the Presbyterian Church in America’s foreign missions’ team in Ukraine, the team in which our missionaries are a part. Keep an eye on the OPC Disaster Response website for updates.

Our effort right now is focused on an OPC Disaster Response fund to support our missionaries and sister churches in and around Ukraine. With funding and prayers, we can support our missionaries and sister churches as they become the help Ukrainian people need desperately right now. We are in contact with our missionaries in L’viv as often as possible, but as you can imagine, they are busy aiding the many internally displaced in the country as they attempt to find a safe haven both within and outside of their home country.

As deacons, you know first hand, there is much prayer and consideration that goes into the disbursement of funds, and often, there is a process for this work. We thought you might be interested in seeing some of the timeline of the OPC CDM:

February 24, 2022
As the conflict begins, we received word from our missionaries in western Ukraine that they were safe, but were anticipating needs from those who would be migrating West to escape the conflict. There is a network of sister churches in their area, and although help would come from many avenues, it was clear the need would exceed the means of their church and ministry there. The OPC CDM, along with OPC Foreign Missions began to confer and pray to determine the best course of action.

February 25, 2022
The OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries’ Disaster Response Subcommittee immediately sent $5,000 to our, and MTW missionaries in L’viv in order to jump-start ministry efforts.

February 28, 2022
After receiving inquiries from churches and individuals, the Disaster Response Subcommittee determined to open a fund, “Ukraine Crisis Fund.” This fund will enable us to come alongside other sister churches in Ukraine and surrounding countries, such as Hungary, Romania, and Poland, who are now receiving refugees.

March 2, 2022
The Ukraine Crisis Fund became available online (in addition to “by check”) and over 100 donations were quickly received. 

March 9, 2022
Gifts exceeding $58,000 have been received to the Ukraine Crisis Fund in just one week! We anticipate the needs in this region will be great. As the funds come in, the DRS will prayerfully consider how to best use them to show the love of Christ to all during this unimaginable time. 

March 12, 2022
Over $110,000 in generous donations have now been received for this fund. 

March 14, 2022
Word of possible opportunities for volunteers to serve in Krakow, Poland with Mission to the World.

Know that our missionaries covet your prayers for them, the flock in L’viv, those they serve, and for the country of Ukraine that they have grown to love. Please also pray that the Lord would turn the hearts of those intent on doing harm. This is a tremendous opportunity for us to show the love of Christ by ministering to brothers and sisters in Christ and by welcoming the stranger. 

If you or your church would like to donate to this fund or to stay updated on the OPC’s effort to Ukraine, go to our website: OPCDisasterResponse.org.


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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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