When I was young, it was always my dream to go overseas and serve the poor and needy. It seems that we are always inundated with images of the need overseas and a call of action to remedy it. It is great to be informed of the need overseas and have a desire to help. However, it is easy to get the idea that serving has to be an exotic adventure to a foreign land.
I was blessed to have been able to spend a total of 12 months in Ukraine and a couple of weeks in Romania. A few months ago, I felt like I wanted to do even more overseas traveling. However, certain circumstances prevented me from going overseas again.
Through my disappointment, God introduced me to FOCUS North America and the need in America. It was almost like a veil had been lifted from my eyes. I had always been vaguely aware of the need around me but never really took any initiative to participate in alleviating it. Now, I know that by volunteering with FOCUS North America and Reconciliation Services,one of its partner ministries, I can make a difference in some way in the lives of people in America.
I have also become more aware of the different levels of serving. Right now, my main work is office work like entering donors in the data base, research, and the average office tasks. However, this is still a form of serving. By helping Fr. Justin with the basic office tasks, I am freeing his time up to do the more important tasks of getting this ministry off the ground. When I can, I am also helping out with Reconciliation Services and their work of actively helping the poor and the needy. My volunteer office work is also helping the poor and needy because FOCUS North America can put the money that may have paid someone to do office work directly towards helping people.
In service work, all work is important. We must never get discouraged because we can't do “great things”. Any work, whether it is volunteering to sweep floors or taking out the trash, is a vital service. God looks at the heart and anything and everything that is done through love as unto Him is real service.
However, “love” is the key word when it comes to service. Service without love is nothing. The old adage, “Charity begins at home” is most definitely true. People need to learn how to first serve their family and the people with whom they interact on a daily basis first. If we can't show love and humility towards these people, how are we going to show love and humility to the “least of these”?
I encourage you to look around you and find a way to serve someone today even if that someone is a co-worker who gets on your nerves. After that, go deeper and find out whom you can serve in your community. And, yes, one person doing one small thing does makes a difference in this world and in the spiritual realm as well.