My blog that I promised my friend and web developer Brett (although the title web developer doesn’t do him justice but I don’t know what else to call him) is about partnering in non-profits. All of the organizations we work with come together to serve the poor in one way or another, whatever that means to their specific mission.
This morning in my daily devotionals by a favorite author and dare I even call him a “friend” Henry Nouwen, I was reminded that all of our partners also need care and that many of them are the poor, even if they might be financially rich.
I was particularly reminded of this with our volunteers. We get all kinds of volunteers in our office. They might be the stable individuals who are so filled up they are over-flowing to give back. But people volunteer for a number of reasons and our Volunteer Coordinator can tell you about the people that come through her office.
We have people who volunteer with us because they are developmentally disabled and unable to perform other types of work, so they become a part of our fabric sorting through items into categories. We have the people who are socially awkward and have a hard time making friends. We have the community service workers, many who really do not want to be there, volunteering their time. We have the elderly who used to have thriving careers and now are longing to find ways to spend their time. We have young people who are required by the high schools to come in. In other words, many of the people who come through our doors to give of their time are often in need of receiving; even if all they are receiving is acceptance and belonging to a cause greater than themselves.
One of the things I love about working for Giving Children Hope is that we make space for people from all walks of live to be cared for in our facility and to me this is part of the essence of the Church. And we love it when we can mix it up. You know, have the high school service club serve alongside the developmentally disabled volunteers together. In this way, they are each crossing the other side of the aisle and “serving the poor” that is right next to them while together serving the financially poor.
Read today’s devotional from Henry Nouwen about the poor:
The poor are the center of the Church. But who are the poor? At first we might think of people who are not like us: people who live in slums, people who go to soup kitchens, people who sleep on the streets, people in prisons, mental hospitals, and nursing homes. But the poor can be very close. They can be in our own families, churches or workplaces. Even closer, the poor can be ourselves, who feel unloved, rejected, ignored, or abused.
It is precisely when we see and experience poverty - whether far away, close by, or in our own hearts - that we need to become the Church; that is hold hands as brothers and sisters, confess our own brokenness and need, forgive one another, heal one another's wounds, and gather around the table of Jesus for the breaking of the bread. Thus, as the poor we recognize Jesus, who became poor for us.
So the next time think about volunteering I encourage you to not volunteer with just your large group of friends or Bible Study as a service project, but go rather with one or two and meet some new people. As you work together to serve the financially poor, meet some new people that might be poor in spirit and serve them as well. You might find that as you serve those people that they will in turn serve deep needs within you and you might in turn be richly blessed.