Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
OPC Disaster Response
Why is the OPC Disaster Response ministry important?
With the frequency of major disasters and the current threat of terrorism, there has never been a better time or a better reason for the OPC as a church, and as a denomination, to show God’s love and mercy in such a vital way. While offering many types of assistance to the victims of a broad range of catastrophic situations, we hope to meet the victims’ immediate needs, help to rebuild their lives, and hopefully affect their eternal destiny as well.
How is a disaster identified?
The OPC Disaster Response Office relies on reports from our local church and Presbyteries after a disaster. After assessing the needs and resources, the Disaster Response Administrator makes recommendations and, if needed, mobilizes teams to respond. Teams are then sent out in the weeks and months following a natural disaster.
How can I get involved with the OPC Disaster Response ministry?
First of all, thank you for your interest! We are always looking for willing hands to serve! Letting us know you are interested is easy. Go to the OPC Disaster Response website, read and sign up to our Disaster Response Registry.
How do I know if I qualify to go on a trip?
Your willingness to go is the first step in qualifying! If you are an able-bodied person and have Christ in your heart, you are qualified. There are many stages of need after a disaster. The first teams to an affected area may need to primarily be involved in “mucking out”. The following steps may involve more skilled volunteers, but we will fit your experience and qualifications to the need.
Do I need to be a communicant member of the OPC to become a volunteer?
No, you do not.
Who will I be helping?
Disaster Response will help OPC churches affected by the disaster, but as a mercy ministry, we will also reach out to the surrounding communities affected by the disaster. It is our goal to minister to all kinds of people in need. We see this as a wonderful opportunity to plant a seed in those affected by disaster.
How can I help without actually going on a trip?
Pray! Pray for good opportunities for volunteers to share the gospel with the lost in these desperate situations. Pray that the team members have good success in helping those with physical needs. Help to raise funds for those who will be going on a trip, either within your church or in another OP Church. In addition, you can become the voice for the team your church has sent. Keep your church updated on how the team is doing and what needs they may have. There are many different ways to serve.
How do we know what level of care is needed?
The disaster needs are assessed well before anyone is sent. Be assured that our desire is to help those who are truly needy. We are in contact with local churches to help determine the true needs.
How can my church get involved in disaster response?
Churches can serve so many purposes! A church local to a disaster may serve as a staging area or emergency shelter for those in need, provide office space for disaster response organizing and coordinating in time of disaster emergency, supply meals and/or lodging for volunteers. A church that is not local to the disaster can help by praying for volunteers, supporting financially, or by providing volunteers for a team.
What if I am able to do some things, but not any heavy lifting? Is there a place for me?
Yes! We will try our best to match your abilities to the needs. There are plenty of opportunities for those who can do “lighter” jobs.
What is the age requirement for joining a team?
You must be 15 years or older to participate in a disaster response volunteer trip.
How much is a typical trip?
Cost depends on location and transportation. Airfare increases with distance and will probably be the greatest expense. Often times a nearby OPC will be able to provide food and lodging, but it depends on the extent of the disaster.
What is the OPC Disaster Response registry?
The OPC Disaster Response Registry is a way for the OPC Disaster Response Administrator to keep a list of all those who have shown interest in getting involved when a need arises. When a disaster strikes, these are the volunteers to be contacted first in order to coordinate a team.
By registering with the OPC Disaster Response Registry, am I expected to go each time I'm called?
No! By registering, you are showing your willingness to be contacted once we become aware of a disaster need. It is your choice whether or not to join a team.
What can I expect after I register to be a response volunteer?
The OPC Disaster Response Administrator will send you a follow-up e-mail with information and you will begin to receive our disaster response newsletter, "the DRIP". The most important thing for you to do is to talk to your family, church, and employer about your plans so that you are ready to serve once a trip is scheduled.
How can I prepare for a trip?
There are a number of things you can do!
- Discuss your desire to participate with your employer. Find out how much time off your employer will allow.
- Discuss your desire with your family.
- Talk to your church leaders (Pastor, Elders, Deacons) for advice and to see if others are interested in joining the group.
- Ask friends to pray for your preparation and for your trip.
- Go to our Short-Term Missions Roadmap page to help with your preparation.
Don’t stress too much! Once you have your schedule worked out, the rest can be learned as you go along—and we’ll help.
How Is my trip paid for?
Volunteers raise their own funds for each trip. Many find that it is not difficult. We can help with a plan that can make fund raising easier for you.
I'm not sure if my employer will let me take time off. Any advice?
We would encourage you to speak to your employer sooner than later. Express to them your desire to go serve others in future disaster response efforts organized by your church. Ask them how to get the time off and how much advance notice they might need. You might also ask if their sending you might be considered a part of the company’s “Corporate Social Program”, should such a program exist. Many companies like to “give back”, and sending you to participate in such a disaster response effort might be one way for them to do that.
Do I make my own travel arrangements?
Yes. Because you know your schedule, it is in your best interest to schedule your trip. Of course, you will be given the specifics of where you will need to be and when you will need to be there. In addition, we will help with whatever needs or concerns you have along the way.
Will I be able to share my faith?
Yes! As representatives of the OPC Disaster Response team, we desire to help the victims of a disaster with both their physical and spiritual needs. Our primary objective is to plant seeds for the Kingdom of God.
How much time would I have to prepare for a trip?
We will make every effort to give you as much notice as possible. In the days and weeks following a disaster there are many assessments being made by local churches and officials. Once we are asked to get involved, we immediately communicate the needs with our volunteer registry via e-mail and social media.
How far will I have to travel?
It’s up to you! It is each volunteer’s decision whether or not to participate in any relief efforts. By registering online, you are simply letting us know that you are willing and would like to made known aware when a team is being organized.
Are there forms to fill out?
There are, but it’s very simple and we’ll walk you through the whole process! If you are a minor, your parent/guardian will need to sign for you.
Do I need to provide my own health insurance?
Yes! Be prepared for your trip by bringing an updated health insurance card and/or medical sharing plan information.
Will I need to get immunizations?
Your immunizations should be up to date by the time you leave for your trip for the safety of you and your teammates, particularly tetanus.
Will I need special training?
No. No special training is needed to participate in a disaster response trip.
Will I be working alongside people from other church denominations?
That is a possibility! Since we work closely with other reformed denominations and share resources, there are times when we can offer a disaster area a more complete team by joining “forces.”
How will I know what to do once I am on a trip?
Plans will be made for effective use of your time. In most cases, your team leader(s) will have a plan of what the needs are and will guide you through each step. We will schedule your trip so that you can be used to the best of your ability.
Will there be an adult leader on each team?
Yes. Each team will be led by an adult team leader who has been designated well before any trip. Only those who have shown interest in leading will be asked to help in that way.
How long will I be gone?
Trips range in timing but are usually about 7 days. Some are more, but we will have that information available for you well before the trip
Will I know anyone I go with?
Not necessarily. Often times churches will recruit a group, but sometimes you will be arranged with other OP Churches. Our efforts to organize teams well before they are needed are recently being strengthened by our Disaster Response Registry.
Where will I stay?
Accommodations will be made for your stay according to what is available. Often volunteers are hosted by local church members or sister churches.
Do I need special clothing or equipment?
So much depends on the nature of the disaster, the time of year and the location of the disaster. We will help you prepare all of the things you’ll need to ensure you are aptly equipped.
Where do supplies come from?
Each disaster is different and unique. If you are able, the site coordinator may ask that you bring specific tools with you. If you would like to bring your own tools, just confirm with the site coordinator before doing so.
What will happen if I get sick or need to get home for an emergency?
We will work to get you home as soon as possible.