“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” ~1 Peter 4:8-10
About a month after moving, God opened up a couple of volunteering opportunities around the twin cities. Even though I wasn’t able to get a job as a receptionist, I did find a faith-based non-profit health care center in need of an office assistant. I go there once a week assisting the staff with various administration and office duties, scanning contracts, assembling discharge packets, etc. I remember the volunteer director giving me the description of what my responsibilities may be, and I thanked God for giving me an opportunity to do exactly what I wanted to do. I also started volunteering as a tutor at a faith-based homeless shelter. Most of the children whom I tutor are Somalian children who were born in refugee camps in Somalia where they faced both verbal and physical abuse. When these children came to the U.S., they were put in different grade levels based on age rather than their ability, so some of them are being taught how to structure a story when they don’t even know the English Alphabet. It really amazes me how dedicated these students are. They come to the tutoring program because they really want to learn, and it brings me so much joy when I see the smile on their face when I give them encouragement or when they realize that they are starting to catch on, or when they win bingo (they love playing bingo).
There is one particular boy who melts my heart, and for confidentiality purposes, we will call him Sam. He is a fifth grade Caucasian boy and very smart. One day he was wearing a Doctor Who shirt, so we talked about Doctor Who for a while before starting. Sam is so sweet, and every time I tell him “You are so smart” or encourage him in any way, he looks up at me with his big eyes like it’s the first time he has heard such things. At the end of one of our tutoring sessions, he caught me off guard and gave me a hug and told me “Thank you.” It melted my heart. It was then that I realized that perhaps just by encouraging these children, I could change their lives. For the fifteen minutes I spend with each child, I am constantly praying for them, praying that they would grow up to be men and women of God, I pray for their families, and I pray for their schooling. I pray that God would watch over them in every step of their lives, and that He would keep them safe. I’m always reminded of one of my favorite Doctor Who quotes, (I know it’s not exactly spiritual, but it is lovely), “Every time you see [children] happy, you remember how sad they’re going to be, and it breaks your heart. Because what’s the point in them being happy now if they’re going to be sad later? The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later.” God values children so much, and if we can brighten their day just by giving them a smile or encouraging them, we can make a huge difference in their lives.
I encourage any young men and women, especially singles, to volunteer. It can make such an impact in your life, and now is the best time to do it. God can use you in your present situation to change lives; you just have to get out there.