An eighth grader interviewed me about my volunteer service. Right now, all my serving of others is tied to my call as a pastor, so I answered the questions from that perspective:

1.Why did you choose to volunteer?
To do for others what has been done for me.

2.What kind of things do you do to volunteer?

Heal people. Set the lonely in families. Restore people who are broken (broken marriages, broken hearts, addictions, crises, etc.). Encourage, strengthen, comfort, give hope.
3.What is your most memorable volunteer experience?
Oh, there are so many. Like the time I prayed for a woman who was diagnosed with an inoperable cancerous brain tumor. But when she went in to her next doctor’s appointment, the tumor had imploded and consumed itself! The doctors had never seen anything like it; she was completely healed! Or the woman who had a baby even though her family was vey poor, and her husband was very rough towards her. I talked with her many times, helped her with food and baby products, and showed her a lot of love. Well, one day she told me her husband wanted to talk to me. I was scared–I didn’t know if he was going to yell at me, or maybe even hurt me! But instead, he thanked me and started crying: “nobody has ever been this kind to us or shown us love like this before.”

4.How does your service help support your community?

Making a difference in the life of just one makes a difference in the life of us all.
5.Do you have any advice for 8th graders to find a place to serve?
What needs do you see around you? Who do you know that needs help? What breaks your heart? (The abandonment of an orphan? The hunger of a homeless person? The woman who has been abused by the person she most trusted?) Start right where you are.

For example, when I was your age, I was heartbroken about the poverty of some elementary school kids who attended the school across the street from me. I was volunteering in the school, helping out in the classrooms. At Easter, I asked the school if they could give me the names and addresses of kids whose families didn’t have enough money for the Easter bunny to come. They did, and I solicited donations, bought them presents, showed up Easter morning, and hid eggs, chocolates and presents outside. The best part was hiding around the corner and seeing the kids’ faces when they came outside!

6.what do you enjoy the most about volunteering?

Seeing people’s lives changed. Seeing them happier, stronger, healthier, better.
7.What is your least favorite thing about volunteering?

A lot of times it doesn’t seem like I’m making any difference. It takes time, and a lot of behind the scenes work, to love and serve people. I think it always makes a difference, but oftentimes I don’t see it. And that can be discouraging.