“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23 NIV).
In no endeavor is this scripture more true than in volunteer service. When there is no personal gain to be had for work, it is truly an effort unto the Lord that we give. On behalf of HOPE South Florida and many other organizations who depend on volunteers, we would like to deeply and sincerely thank the hundreds of volunteers who make a such an impact in our community. We could not serve the many single mothers in crisis and homeless individuals without your help.
Service as worship
At the heart of volunteering is a service to God and for God. In our service to others we are, in purest form, worshipping our God. When asked what was required of us, sacrifice or offerings in abundance, the answer was service: “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). In volunteering we are also able to act on behalf of God. We are His very hands and feet amongst the poor and in need, His presence amongst the weak, and His voice for the oppressed. We have the wonderful opportunity to bear His cross, the greatest single act of service, and be the very presence and power of the Gospel amongst those in need.
Volunteers are at the very heart of HOPE South Florida. All that we do is in partnership with the Christian community as co-laborers for Christ. You, the church, are the very essence of HOPE South Florida and without you there would be no ministry at all. Without the hundreds of volunteers, and thousands of hours of service, we would only be able to provide the very basics of housing and support. It is with your help that we move from just providing food and housing, to truly bringing restoration through loving community.
This restoration begins when the Christian community decides it is time to Engage those that are in need. When volunteers work with HOPE South Florida to reach out to meet the orphans, widows, and strangers in their time of distress and offer loving support, that is the beginning of hope. In our homeless continuum of care, Engage is that front door of services: prevention, outreach and shared meals that happen every day.
Every meal that HOPE South Florida works to coordinate is made possible because of hundreds of volunteers and dozens of churches. It is people like you, and the churches you represent, that give of your very time, talent, and treasure to make it possible for us to provide hope through food. Food for us is not the answer, it is not the end, it is only the beginning. When we work with partner churches to host a shared meal, when we set the table and offer worship service, and when we graciously usher in the homeless and hurting to sit at Jesus’ table, it is then that community is begun. It is in the breaking of bread as equals in God’s eyes and brothers and sisters in Christ, that true communion is had. Jesus has told us, “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:13-14). Volunteers are the only way that this is possible.
The body of Christ
We can’t and don’t end with engagement. As we engage those in need, we must begin to Empower them for personal change. True restoration begins to occur when the body of Christ walks together alongside the homeless on this journey back to healthy interdependence. In our homeless continuum of care, Empower are the various housing and support services necessary to bring about stability and the capacity for personal growth.
Empower is also the space where the Gospel can take root in a person’s life and bear fruit. — a time when volunteers can form loving community and support teams around the many single mothers and individuals who are housed by HOPE South Florida. When a single mother calls out for help because she has no place to rest her head, flees in the middle of the night from abuse, or a family gets evicted in the middle of the night because they just didn’t have enough money for rent; it is then that our church partners open their doors to provide crisis housing and loving support.
The church is the very beginning of restoration through loving community and you are making it possible every day. If you, your church, or your business would like to find out more about volunteering, please visit www.HOPESouthFlorida.org
Robin Martin is executive director of HOPE South Florida, a non-profit organization serving homeless and hurting individuals and families through partnerships with churches and community services. He can be reached at [email protected]