This article originally appeared in the July 2023 issue of New Horizons
By John A. Hartley
Where did Obadiah find all that bread? It is a fair question but certainly not the point of Scripture’s brief yet dense testimony to one man’s faith, love, and courage: “Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water” (1 Kings 18:3–4).
The Spirit wants us to notice Obadiah. In dark times, he shined in the care and keeping of the Lord’s prophets. We must not look away from men of such honorable priorities. By God’s grace, the OPC has not.
Meeting Ministers in Need
Several years ago, through a generous donation, a fund was established to meet the needs of retired OPC ministers and their widows. Each year the Committee on Ministerial Care makes a general disbursement from the fund to each eligible beneficiary. It is one way our retired ministers and their widows taste and see that the Lord is good. Each year the fund also makes needs-based disbursements in coordination with the presbyteries of eligible individuals.
But where does Obadiah find all that bread?
Did Obadiah use King Ahab’s kitchen? Did he have fifty obscure friends harvesting wheat and grinding flour and baking bread to feed a hundred prophets? Did he just have twenty such friends? Just five? Did he bake that bread himself? That we do not know is the point. Obadiah took the frontline risk, but there were likely many unseen hands making the work light.
Obscure Friends and Unseen Hands
Obscure friends and unseen hands are what is needed for the sustainability of the OPC’s Obadiah Fund. The Committee on Ministerial Care will continue to make disbursements, but the fund is not limitless. For this reason, we are inviting obscure friends and unseen hands, fifty or five, to extend the work of the Obadiah Fund.
It is certainly true that planning can reduce many hardships for a retired minister and his widow. The Lord does not oppose the planner. This is why the Committee on Ministerial Care has dedicated significant resources to help working pastors prepare for retirement. One of our newest is Financial Aid and Retirement Evaluation (FARE), a partnership with Ron Blue Trust to provide a discreet financial and retirement evaluation. It is like a tailored suit for retirement readiness. Learn more at www.opccmc.org
But as Scottish poet Robert Burns famously wrote, “Even the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry.” Not all the prophets hidden by Obadiah could bring their own bread. Bad planning is not the explanation for every need. As James pointedly says, “You do not know what tomorrow will bring” (James 4:14). At times it is even the Lord’s will that we do not make a profit.
This is especially why the Lord has given our church the Obadiah Fund. It is a testimony to the greatness of his kingdom and wideness of his mercy—a testimony he often prefers to that of making every member of the body healthy, wealthy, and without need.
The Lord would have us all take notice and look inside Obadiah’s cave. There we see a foretaste of the rule of the King who came that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
Would you like to be an obscure friend, one of the unseen hands helping our Obadiah Fund? You can give directly online at Obadiah Contribution – Default (opc.org). Or contact Rev. John Fikkert, director of the Committee on Ministerial Care, at [email protected].
The author is pastor of Apple Valley Presbyterian in Neenah, Wisconsin, and member of the CMC