I came to the Shelter Jordan in early June with many personal goals for myself. I planned to read my Bible more, to pray more, and to evangelize more than I ever had before. It did not take long into my time for God to begin radically altering my perspective on Christian volunteering.
I had always seen my previous volunteer work as a personal effort; if I worked really hard at something, God would bless me. Through my effort, I thought I would learn something new, and feel really good about all of the success I had achieved in Christian volunteering.
I thought that if I could just give enough effort, my Christian volunteering would finally bear some tangible fruit. However, in the last two months here; I have discovered that Christian volunteering is not about personal effort at all. It is not about trying my best and then receiving a nicely packaged life-lesson in return.
I have found, that Christian volunteering is actually all about God.
This may seem redundant. Allow me to explain. I think that, all too often, we participate in Christian volunteering to gain something for ourselves. But God has used my last two months here to teach me that any work we do, and anything we achieve, if it is truly to be used by him, must be accomplished through him, and not through our own strength.
God is the one who makes a difference in people’s lives, not me. God is the one who makes my effort in Christian volunteering worth anything at all.
A meeting with a guest
I first began to realize this truth about Christian volunteering through my encounter with a young male guest from South Korea. This guest was travelling alone during his holidays from university. At a Bible discussion we offered at the hostel, the guest told the group that he had grown up in a Christian home, but now had many questions about God. The guest explained that he was hoping to find answers to these questions in his travels.
That evening, after Bible discussion, I spoke with the guest. We talked for several hours about things that we were studying, things about which we were passionate, and our travels. To my surprise, we did not talk about God at all. I left the hostel that night with a feeling of defeat. Here I had talked for hours with a guest, but did not “share the gospel”.
That night, I felt that all of my effort in Christian volunteering had failed.
Yet, the next evening, the guest also attended a film discussion that we offered at the hostel. After the film discussion, the other Christian volunteers began playing the guitar and singing worship songs together. The guest also joined in. We ended up spending three hours in worship together: myself, the other Christian volunteers, and the guest!
Later that night, before I returned home, the guest told me that he had never experienced the love of God in Christian community in that way before. He told me he was going to continue asking God his hard questions, and seeking to find more communities of Christians when he returned to South Korea.
My experience with the guest from South Korea was not one that I would have envisioned for myself when I set out to be a Christian volunteer. I did not share my testimony, I did not do any manual labor, and I did not even hand out a gospel tract.
And yet, God worked a miracle in my young friend’s heart.
God has taught me, that success in Christian volunteering is not made through our effort. Rather, it is by relying on His power that people’s hearts are changed.
I continue to learn about Christian volunteering here at the Shelter. Now, I have replaced my goals for “personal improvement”. I now have a simple desire to humble myself before God, seeking to rely on Him alone.