Heart Matters: Volunteer’s Heart

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She’s not a paid minister. She’s had no formal training. In
fact, she isn’t even on our official volunteer schedule. But the
impact Rose has had on our volunteer team isn’t something we’ll
forget soon.

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You see, I think our volunteers may never have truly understood
what ministry was until they met Rose. I don’t say that
lightly…and here’s why.

I’d asked Rose to speak at our volunteer appreciation breakfast.
I’d met her earlier in the summer soon after she began attending
our church. She’d called, requesting a meeting with me to discuss a
special ministry she’d started. There she shared her incredible
story. Feeling led by God, Rose had left her full-time job to
minister to underprivileged children in her neighborhood. The
stories she shared broke my heart…stories of poverty, neglect,
abuse.

On a daily basis, Rose provides a stable, safe environment of hope
for her neighborhood kids. Some days that means feeding an entire
family because food stamps have run out. Many days, it means
picking up a kindergartner from school because a father lost his
license. Once, it meant taking in a 6-year-old when the child was
left to sleep in the apartment hallway.

But Rose’s ministry isn’t only meeting the kids’ immediate needs:
Rose always finds a way to get them to church — even if it means
calling on a friend to help get them all there. She knocks on doors
weekly and invites all the kids to come with her to church.

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So you see, that’s why I asked Rose to come and be the guest of
honor at our All-Star Breakfast. I wanted our team to hear about
Rose’s ministry. Many volunteers recognized Rose, but they had no
idea that this woman was only a neighbor — not family — to all
the children she brought to our ministry each week. As I introduced
Rose and her ministry, you could’ve heard a pin drop in the room.
And as God spoke through Rose that morning, tears streamed down the
cheeks of the nearly 100 volunteers present. How could this be?
Right in our own ministry? Volunteers who’d been working with
Rose’s kids for months suddenly realized just how broken their
lives truly were. No wonder that little boy is so angry. No wonder
that little girl won’t even look me in the eyes.

As Rose finished her story, all of us rose to our feet in
applause. We were all touched by Rose’s words…but we got chills
by what happened next.

Sitting at Rose’s table that morning were seven other people Rose
didn’t know well. To her left was a woman named Cathy, who’d
generously donated a surprise week away in a condo in Florida for
our appreciation breakfast. One lucky volunteer would walk away
with a Florida vacation. Before our breakfast, our leadership team
had prayed that God would bless just the right person with the
trip. Only he knew who that would be.

Cathy came onstage and drew a name from the bucket. The winner was
Andrea, a woman also sitting at Rose’s table. Everyone was
thrilled. As Andrea came up to claim her gift, she asked for the
microphone. Barely able to get the words out, Andrea turned to Rose
and said quietly and tearfully, “I want Rose to go in my
spot.”

What a moment! What a moment for Rose, whose ministry and heart
were validated. What a moment for Andrea, who graciously gave up a
wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime gift. What a moment for all of us who
got a glimpse of this volunteer’s heart — and what ministry is
truly all about.

Linda Hutchinson is a family life director for her church in
Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

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