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What's it like to volunteer with Buckner?

An inside look for National Volunteer Month

I’ve never been accused of having a servant spirit. I was raised in a home with an “Us vs. Them” mentality. My family wasn’t concerned with helping the world. If anything, we fought it against it. There was very little empathy for those having a rough go in life: those who needed food, clothing, shelter, a job, a kind word or a helping hand.

Fortunately, I grew up attending a church with a desire to spread the Gospel while also offering hope and love to the world. We sent missionaries into the field and funded churches all over the world, but we never put shoes on children’s feet or built homes for families in need. Is praying for the lost not enough?

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18

I had somehow skipped this verse.

Years later my wife landed a job at Buckner International, and she decided to volunteer for an Easter egg hunt. Being new, she didn’t know many people and was nervous to go alone, so she asked me to sign up with her. I tagged along and had my entire worldview changed.

I don’t know how many Easter egg hunts you’ve helped put together, but few feelings compare to the startling mix of joy and terror as you watch over 100 kids of all ages descend like a sugar-starved horde upon a field full of innocent, plastic Easter eggs. Plastic shattered. Candy devoured.  

Watching these families – absolute strangers to me – smile and laugh and enjoy their evening together had a massive impact on me. The evening was a success, everyone had a great time, and in a small way, I helped make that happen. Is this what action and truth felt like?

Before long, I volunteered to sort shoes at the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid. Next, you could find me in a parking lot, building homes for the Buckner Healthy Housing program.

Volunteering at all agesWords and speech had taken a backseat to getting my hands dirty and actually being involved in my community and the world around me. Suddenly, I was physically invested in the wellbeing of my brothers and sisters in Christ. After about a year, though, even this wasn’t enough. I didn’t just want to help for an afternoon here or a Saturday there, I wanted this kind of service to fill every corner of my life.

My life at this point was spent managing a team of copywriters for an online retailer. The job was good, the people on my team were outstanding, but the work was stale. My work gave nothing back to the world. I felt empty. I wanted to take the sporadic volunteering and turn it into a life. But how? With no clue about how to improve my lot, I prayed about it.

God listens to the prayers of his people.

A position with Buckner became available and I grabbed it both hands. Three years later and I still haven’t let go. Every day, I’m privileged to support ministries that serve children, families and seniors. My wife and I still volunteer for events on the weekend. I sleep well at night knowing that one person can help make a difference. 

Don’t be like me and let 40 years vanish before you start heeding the Lord’s call. If you love the Lord, love his children with actions and truth. Will I see you at the next volunteer opportunity?

Written by Nik Holman, marketing specialist at Buckner International.

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