Friday, February 13, 2015
“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation's compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” — Erma Bombeck
Somewhere today hungry people are being fed because volunteers are giving their own time and energy to feed them. Suicide and rape crisis hot lines have caring listeners on the other end of the phone because those listeners care enough to volunteer to help people in serious need. Young people get to go on mission trips because people like Guy Pearson spend hours and hours over a hot barbecue grill to help pay for the trip. The parents of children with special needs get respite from the 24-hour-a-day care they provide because of volunteers. Troubled youth, alcoholics, drug addicts and others trying to climb out of the holes they dug for themselves are able to do it because of long-suffering volunteers, many of whom have done the same and are now giving back. Battered women have shelters and therapy where none existed when I first started working with them in the seventies. Homeless people have meals and clothes and shoes (see the picture) delivered along with blankets and sleeping bags by volunteers. And it’s not just the ones actually doing the work who are the volunteers, the folks who donate the food, clothes, telephones, housing, youth centers—they change the world of the most marginalized, too. Workers in refugee camps, workers who deal with children who have been forced to become soldiers and in many cases kill their own parents—I don’t know how they do it, but they do. A missionary here far south of us was delivering babies in the dark a few days ago because of a power outage and generator failure, she’s one of these special people, too. It doesn’t matter what your station in life is, how much money or how little money you make, whether you have days you can give or just a few hours a month—every little moment counts. Christ’s hands, feet, and voices are alive daily because of thousands, hundreds of thousands of volunteers who think more of others than themselves. We just don’t realize how much work these people do, and how often, and at what cost to themselves, but these are the real hands of God at work in our world. God loves them, I love them, and surely the people who benefit from them love them, too. You want to be a Christian soldier? Volunteer to help the people who need it whenever and wherever you can. You say you have no gifts to offer? Can you lick envelopes, wash dishes, carry out trash, or just drive a car? Then you have the gifts that are needed. A listening ear, a caring heart, a smile, respect for a troubled youth, a gentle touch for a child with special needs, these are things you can offer that change the worlds of those who receive them. You are a special child of God who has been given the gift of giving to bring light into other’s darkness. To quote Nike, “Just do it.” You will never regret it.