Have you ever wondered how your contribution of gifts, time or prayer can have an impact in mission, community and aid organisations? It is a question I have asked as well. Recently, I was privileged to hear the story of one of our long-term volunteers; her reflections provide a glimpse of the difference we can have in people’s lives.
When Anita (not her real name) retired, she became a volunteer at a Baptist Community Services outreach centre. She shares some of her personal experiences and reflections.
I have had the opportunity to learn more about the work that is being done by BCS to meet the needs of those who need a leg up in life – emotionally, physically and spiritually in a range of situations. My first realisation when I first stepped inside the premises was I didn’t know the people, the housing available for them, or the lifestyles of some people in the area. Their circumstances were so different to anything I had ever experienced. Someone said to me, “You don’t talk much – don’t you want to talk to us?” I quickly replied, “but I’m listening” and could have added “I’m learning.”
I learnt about their thinking and attitudes, broken homes, alcohol and drug abuse, sad life situations and so much more – and I am the richer for it. I recall those getting together an outfit to wear for a job interview, mum’s outfitting their young families, those buying a special treat, maybe a pretty brooch, something to lift their day. Others came to fit out their lodgings with china and cutlery and bed linen. However, each purchaser needed more – a listening ear to hear their story and a wise word of encouragement. I learnt to listen and learn.
Some situations brought me to stop and think. Alcohol affected readers looking at the books in the shop and speaking of their earlier life – educated, capable people who had fallen into a pit for all manner of reasons. Another person with a gender issue asked one day, “Why did God make me like this?” I thank the local Chaplain for his subsequent help for this person. The day I heard the cry of a drug affected baby I felt deep sadness, but these people needed help.
Being involved as a volunteer helped me to see how support for BCS ministries has such an impact on people’s lives. BCS opens opportunities to assist others in ways we haven’t even dreamed about, enabling those chances to lift many people into a more positive lifestyle. Maybe we won’t all get to see firsthand some of this impact, but I can assure you the prayers, time and gifts of so many supporters has impacted hundreds of lives – and still does. I am the richer for being part of this journey.