The Finish Line and Beyond in Neon
As we reported a few weeks ago, only a few final touches to the interior are needed to complete the OPC Disaster effort at Neon Reformed OPC—just shy of three months after the building was deluged with more than six feet of muddy water! This is certainly cause for praising our great God! Pastor Jay Bennett, although relieved and excited to move worship back into the building says, “I feel like a sprinter who has just run much further than he ever trained to run. The love and support of the church has been invigorating, but the work was so intense that it’s taken a toll. With the on-site work drawing to a close, I feel some measure of relief. I’m looking forward to being back in our own building for worship services this Sunday. That will be one more stride in the direction of normalcy. I think the church has been amazed and encouraged by the love and support of the broader OP Church. For many who come from congregational backgrounds, it’s the first time they’ve ever witnessed anything like this.” OPC Disaster Response isn’t quite ready to pack up and leave, though. Phase 2, Community Outreach, is our next prayerful step.
Many Hands Make Light Work
I Corinthians 12: 14 tells us, “For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” Neon’s rebuild didn’t happen without the Lord leading volunteers to spend their off-hours traveling to and serving in this small, seemingly insignificant place.
This was evident by the 120 volunteers’ loving service. Neon’s own presbytery, the Presbytery of the Southeast, showed their loved by sending a total of 63 volunteers from 22 churches (that’s 52% of the total number of volunteers)! Others came from all around the country. Seventeen churches from the Presbytery of Ohio came to serve. Heritage OPC, Royston, GA sent ten volunteers from their church, while Faith OPC Cookeville, TN sent nine. During the Neon effort, church officers (from within and outside of the OPC) made up a remarkable representation, with 14 deacons, eight elders and seven pastors contributing to the work.
If you’ve read our previous updates, you know how we’ve been blessed by our connectedness to other denominations. Without the help of the PCA’s MNA Disaster Response equipment and training, this effort would have been much more labor intensive and run a much longer course. Along with the equipment donation, Neon welcomed nineteen volunteers from five PCA churches as well as volunteers from two United Reformed Churches and one Bible Presbyterian Church.
Over three hundred donors sent funds (including churches) totaling $341,749.09—well beyond what was needed for the interior rebuilding. The remaining funds, Lord willing, will be used to reach out to those who continue to struggle after the flooding, as we are able.
The leaders of the interior project were incredible, and the reason why Neon Reformed is nearly ready for worship at this point. Art Allen is basically a construction superhero. He swept into Neon from his local diaconal work at Shiloh in Raleigh, North Carolina to organize and see the interior project to its completion. We can’t thank him enough! Reuben Long, and his dad, Seth, and Pastor Jay Bennett served right alongside the volunteers, giving the project the energy and stamina it needed. It was a dream team!
You can’t have a fellowship dinner without forks! Neon Reformed OPC member Helen Long, whom you may have seen in earlier photos mucking out the church, has graciously volunteered to oversee the interior coordination. She will ensure all the necessary furnishings are purchased, such as blankets for the nursery, tables, kitchen items and more. Helen began this project pushing mud out of the church’s doorway and now has the joy and satisfaction of seeing her home church back open for worship.
We’re so thankful for the eagerness to help and to show love to Pastor Jay Bennett through the donations, both books and monetary, to restore his library. Pastors have a lot of books! We are thankful for Enrique Huezo, member of Shiloh OPC in Raleigh, NC, for getting the ball rolling on this project. Enrique has now handed the reigns to Hannah White to oversee the project. As you may recall, Hannah worked for OPC Disaster Response at the beginning of the year as an intern just before she graduated from college. She has happily agreed to jump in and continue this project for us. You can find out what books are still needed by going here or by emailing Hannah: [email protected].
Phase 2: Community Outreach
The Neon Disaster Oversight Committee isn’t quite done yet, and that brings us to Phase 2—Community Outreach. Jeff Davis, deacon at Cedar OPC in Jenison, MI, arrived in Neon a few weeks ago to begin making contact with some in the community who may need assistance. It’s hard to believe, but some families have had to move back into their water-logged homes with no means to improve. Jeff, along with member of Staunton OPC in Virginia, Kenley Leslie, are attempting meet with neighbors of the church to assess their needs. Sheds of Hope, a PCA ministry where sheds are built and given to families to store items they saved from floodwaters, are one way we can help give a measure of comfort. The shed assembly requires five strong backs to put together. Jeff and Kenley need volunteer help November 7-10 and 14-18; and either the first or second week of December. If you are interested, please contact Jane Robinson: [email protected]. We realize that the holiday season is around the corner, but we hope to get at least a few sheds up before it gets too cold! Please join us in praying that this effort is fruitful, that it opens conversations of joy in the Lord and the need for a Savior, and that some may begin to attend NROPC.
Mercy Coordinator Position
Jeff and Kenley have committed to two weeks in November and one week in December. Beyond that, the project will need one or more men, preferably deacons, to assume this position, possibly beginning in February of next year. We are open to the possibility of some sort of rotation. Contact Landis OPC elder, Mike Cloy if you are interested or would like to discuss the opportunity in greater detail: [email protected]. A daily stipend will be granted plus the costs of room, board, and travel.
What should all of this say to you? The Lord works through the connected church—and not just when it’s easy. OPC Disaster Response exists to help the local church restore worship, and Praise the Lord, because of the love shown to Neon Reformed OPC, that has been accomplished. Neon Reformed met yesterday in their building for the first time since the flood. Thank you for the love you have shown Neon Reformed Church by way of prayers, donations, and volunteering. Please continue to pray that the church is a light in the darkness in the community. And pray about how you may be able to help us reach out into the community.