I never thought I would be sleeping in a large room full of strange men. But that is how my first volunteer experience started with Samaritan’s Purse in July 2016.
Before I go on, I would like to give you some idea of how and why I came to consider volunteering.
It started with a little book called Radical by David Platt. He challenges every Christian living in the United States to reevaluate what it means to serve God in the context of pursuing the “American Dream.” Do you dream about how you can be more useful to God? I used to dream about making enough money to support my modest lifestyle and give God my remaining effort. After all, I had been a Christian for over 30 years, and I was fairly confident I was seeking the kingdom of God as my first priority. I had two children in Master Degree programs and a small 401k.
But deep down in my soul, I was desiring a more spiritually abundant life, but I was unaware this consciously.
Around this time, I was introduced to the book Radical. What most inspired me was the challenge in the back of the book. David devised a “Radical Experiment.” I will condense the main points below. Radical Experiment:
1. Pray for the entire world (Check out www.operationworld.org/prayer-calendar)
2. Read through the entire bible in one year
3. Give sacrificially to a specific purpose
4. Spend your time in another context (serve God anywhere away from home)
5. Commit your life to a multiplying community (church)
I was challenged to leave home and serve God. I mentioned this to a brother in the Lord who encouraged me to contact another church member who was a volunteer site leader with Samaritan’s Purse. He told me that I needed to apply on their website (www.spvolunteer.org/signup), which I did. SP does a background check and has a vetting process. Once you are approved, you are free to volunteer.
I chose to volunteer in West Virginia in an area that had severe flooding. The work sites had physical damage and tremendous water damage. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I am glad I went. Have you considered a mission trip inside the US? It is much more common to think about mission trips outside of the US.
I was housed in a church gym in a section that was walled off for the men. Outside of this area was the area designated for eating, where several tables were set up. There was a kitchen that the SP staff and local volunteers used to make meals. We ate breakfast and dinner in this area, and it was where we grabbed a lunch we ate at the work site. I was well-coordinated.
I volunteered for a week. We did work in many homes, and we met some of the families. You can imagine the sadness of the people who had their homes damaged. Although many agencies were in the area providing similar support, Samaritan’s Purse was unique.
The volunteers were all Christians. The teams were picked daily, unless a team needed to stay together. I am familiar with building and remodeling and I witnessed many miracles while volunteering. The teams I was a part functioned as if we had been together for a while, yet we were strangers and unfamiliar to each others. The Holy Spirit really did amazing work creating unity and progress. We had some opportunities to witness.
The SP staff was exceptional. They were friendly, spiritual, and supportive, and they shared inspiring testimonies. I met a nice couple from Western NY who used to be dairy farmers. The non-work site volunteers had inspiring stories about how they decided to come. Many of them had overseas missionary experience prior to coming.
The work-site volunteers had miraculous stories themselves. They had unique calls from God, sleepless nights, and crazy circumstances that led them to that location. It was nothing short of heavenly. It was so refreshing to praise the Lord during a work day!
You were given a devotional journal for daily devotions. A staff member led devotions before we left to work and before dinner. And the fellowship in Christ with everyone was uplifting, provocative, and strengthening. It was a miracle to see so many people from different Christian churches, denominations, and theological creeds unite in the Person of Jesus Christ.
If you have a chance, volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse. Choose to be uncomfortable for Jesus. If you cannot leave home, check out the website (www.spvolunteer.org/) and pray for all the opportunities that are listed. They have things to do without leaving home. They even have international opportunities. God is using Samaritan’s Purse in miraculous ways, and you can join in.