I love small churches. They are alive with a vibrant sense of family. They break bread together. They can actually, in a meaningful way, fulfill the one another commands of the New Testament. [That is not to say that large churches don’t have a heart to do this, or that there are no ways to do these things in large churches, or that large churches are unconcerned with these things, they are. In fact when I was part of a large church, a constant focus of the leadership was what can be done foster these things happen organically in a small church.]
But larger churches have one huge advantage over small churches, resources. They can support missionaries in ways that smaller churches cannot. They can serve their communities in ways that smaller churches simply cannot (not only in terms of financial resources, but in terms of sheer manpower too).
And they can provide for their pastors differently too. I’m not talking about the pastor’s salary, most small churches are generous, or at least as generous as possible. (And if you are wondering if your church is providing for your pastor adequately here is a great place to start.) What I’m talking about is health insurance and supplemental provision in times of medical crisis. Most small church pastors need to buy their own health insurance on the open market, and often affordable policies fall short in extraordinary circumstances.
And small churches, no matter how generous, are simply not in the position to absorb a pastor’s medical expenses not covered by insurance, that can run into the five or six figures.
But who can help with these costs is the body of Christ, the Universal Church. And if you are reading this it is likely that you count yourself as part of the Universal Church. And so I want to alert you to an opportunity to help a faithful small church pastor in a time of need.
Nestled in the woods of southern Oregon is the small town of Merlin (pop 1,615), and in that town you will find Merlin Community Baptist Church, faithfully pastored by Josh Siebert. Josh is a 2012 graduate of The Master’s Seminary; He has a lovely wife Erika and two wonderful sons Noah (10) and Nathan (2), and he needs our help.
Josh, after many tests and grueling appointments, has been diagnosed with a high-risk case of Mylodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) caused by a genetic abnormality. Although MDS is typically an affliction of the elderly, and generally just managed rather than treated, Josh is a young man and for him this is deadly serious.
Josh will have to undergo a course of intensive inpatient chemotherapy in preparation for a potentially lifesaving bone marrow transplant at Oregon Health & Science University hospital in Portland Oregon. And after the transplant (tentatively scheduled for February or March) the Sieberts will need to live close to OHSU hospital for three to six months as Josh recovers; additionally they will need an in-home care giver at least for the first few months of Josh’s recovery. Even if everything goes perfectly with Josh’s treatment it will be hard, expensive and a major disruption to the life of the Sieberts and the church he serves. And they need your help. And there are two ways you can help.
There is no other way to say it. Josh and his family need financial help. They will need about $25,000 dollars beyond what their health insurance will cover, to pay for his treatment and to live in Portland during his treatment. You can donate here.
Josh and his family need our prayers, they are in the midst of a serious trial, and we ought to be diligent in bringing them before the Throne of Grace. To that end, I want to share a few requests from the family.
- Please pray for healing and health. Josh’s immune system will be completely wiped out before the transplant. Pray that Josh would make a full recovery and that potential infections would be kept at bay.
- Please pray that a suitable bone marrow donor would be found, and that Josh’s body would accept the transplanted bone marrow.
- Please pray for spiritual strength and wisdom for Josh and Erika, and that they would be able to rest in the love and character of God.
- Please pray for the physical endurance of Erika as she ministers to Josh in the coming months.
- Please pray that the Siebert family would find an affordable and peaceful and quiet home or apartment to rent near OHSU. (This is one of their major prayer requests as short term rentals in Portland are hard to find.)
- Please pray for Merlin Community Baptist Church in the absence of their pastor, that they would be encouraged and grow in their trust of God through this trial.
- Please pray that God will be glorified in and through Josh’s illness.
I not only love small churches, I love the Universal Church and I love Josh too. Jesus said His disciples would be known by their love for one another (John 13:35), lets show our commitment to Christ by loving Josh, his church, and his family. If you can afford to, please consider donating to his medical fund. And please pray for this precious saint, family and church.