There is one thing that is common to returned volunteers – they have all changed. They see life from a new perspective. Some of this change was hoped for before they left home and some was just the result of living in another place. Some volunteers go with the intent to affect this change, while for others, it is an unplanned benefit. Regardless of the cause, all volunteers are affected to some degree. Change will happen!
Those who have travelled already know that travel results in learning – both intentional and unintentional. The mere fact that you are able to see, smell, taste, feel, and experience new things causes change to happen. Some of this is welcomed change, while at other times, the change is rather forced or perhaps even unwelcome. We may not even know that we have changed until someone notices and comments on it. It can be common for us to deny the change others see in us, as it might have happened gradually over a period of time.
Some volunteers go because they recognize the need for change in their lives. When they return, they express and exhibit these changes, and this influences new volunteers to serve. However, changes cannot be the same in everyone as each volunteer will have a different experience and because we all process things differently. Each experience is unique.
One of the most common desires for change expressed by new volunteers is that they need to get away from the many things that “run” their lives, so they can get a new focus on what is important. These “run-your-life” things may include friends, gadgets (games, phone, and internet), school, food, entertainment, etc. Significant change can only take place if, when we go, we leave behind the things that fill and run our lives. In today’s world of electronic communication, that may be hard to do! This may cause some volunteers to look for a place that is rather remote. For others, just getting away and doing something different may be enough to bring about the sought after change.
Volunteers usually look for a new spiritual experience. Life at home is filled with pre-determined, time-eating activities that do not easily make allowance for God. Added to this is a lifestyle that has no need for reliance on God. Our daily, basic needs are adequately supplied, leaving us to live a life in need of nothing – other than a growing, empty feeling which will get us nowhere. As time marches on, that empty feeling grows to the point where we recognize the need for something different – something with direction and purpose. We have tried all the self-help, start-again things that never seem to work, and so getting away seems to be a sure way to acquire this change.
There are many volunteers who say that their assignment was often more than they could handle, which prompted them to ask God for help. This reliance on God is what opens us up to the change He wants to make in our lives. A change that is caused by the removal of our self-reliance in exchange for our total dependence on God and the help He has promised to all who call on Him. This should be the most sought after change for all of us. It is the kind of change that makes us a true disciple of Christ. It is the Romans 12:2 transformation of a “renewed” mind in Christ.
If you are presently serving as a volunteer, please know that God is ready to help you make this change. Just ask Him! If you are thinking about being a volunteer, you can start by asking God to show you His will – how to raise the needed funds, where to serve, how to deal with your family and friends, and what to do with school or work while you are gone. He is waiting – just ask and trust that He will open the storehouses of Heaven with blessings beyond what you can even think or dream about. JUST ASK! Then fasten your seat belt and get ready for change!
To connect with people in Manhattan, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has established a center of influence called Life Hope Center Bryant Park.
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