By Nichola Natale Bricco, Director of Client Experience with Meals on Wheels Greenville
According to Dictionary.com, to volunteer is to offer oneself for some service or undertaking. During wartime, young men and women joined the military to defend our freedom at home. Doctors cross borders to give healthcare to the poor in foreign countries. Students donate time doing odd jobs for non-profits. These are just some examples of volunteering. Whether it is to defend the homeland, to provide medical care or to collect service hours, that motivation is the driving force to put others before themselves. Being someone of faith, this brings me to ask, “What role does one’s faith in God play in their desire to volunteer?”
Faith in God drives us to share his love with others. But, why? Is it simply because we want to do good? I would argue many who live without a faith in God want to do good; albeit most everyone wants to do good. So, are we motivated to volunteer at a soup kitchen just to do something good? While this may be true, I propose that something greater happens when one’s faith motivates them to volunteer.
According to an article in Caritas.org, Pope Benedict XVI said, when we volunteer,
“…we also become visible instruments of His love in a world that still profoundly yearns for that love amid the poverty, loneliness, marginalization and ignorance that we all see around us.”
In the community around you, through their loneliness, their struggles, their hurt, the one thing many yearn for most, is to see God come to their rescue and to feel His love for them. How does He manifest Himself to them? I dare say to you that it is through us, through our actions, offering ourselves in their service. When we meet them in their loneliness, in their struggles, in their hurt we meet them as the instrument of the love and grace of God that they look for.
Something miraculous happens when you volunteer. When we see a need in humanity, and we act to meet that need, we become the hands and feet of God himself. While you are the visible sign of His love to them, when you connect eye to eye in humble service, they mysteriously become the visible sign of His love to you! It is not one-sided because He is present in both of you at that very moment.
Faith is a strong motivator for volunteering, for it is the manifestation of God’s love in the hurting of this world. Sometimes, I find myself looking for God to come to my rescue and to show His love for me. At these times, I find a way to serve someone else. If you find yourself in the same place, I urge you, volunteer.
Find the need that you can fulfill in your community, get out there and be the hands and feet of God. And He will meet you there, face to face.