"City Mission is my happy place." I hadn't expected these words to come out of my 17 year old son's mouth the other day, but as I considered his words I agreed wholeheartedly.
Four years ago, our son, Ian, needed to get service hours as part of his High School requirement for graduation. We had made donations to the Mission in the past, sporadically, but had never volunteered. It was unfamiliar and, although I'd faced challenges in my life, homelessness was not one of them. I think I was afraid that I wouldn't know the right thing to say, and that, in my ignorance, I'd end up saying something foolish and hurtful to someone who was already struggling with life issues that were bigger than I could imagine. My son was also unsure of what it would be like to volunteer, but this service requirement moved him out of his comfort zone and his bravery challenged me to step out and volunteer.
We volunteered to prepare and serve a meal in the kitchen and from our first night on, we were in love with the Mission. We feared we would experience sadness and an atmosphere of hopelessness, but what we actually encountered was joy, hope, and compassion from the minute we walked in. We saw joy in those volunteering as we were warmly welcomed and directed quickly to jump in and start helping. The night was marked with gratitude, respect, and laughter from those serving meals and those receiving them. Clearly the difficulties of hunger and homelessness were present, but something greater was at work - God.
In the simple acts of feeding, nurturing, and comforting others, we too were fed and strengthened. It was not that our efforts were perfect - they were not (says the woman who dropped a whole tray of dishes on her first night)! In fact, the joy we experienced had nothing to do with our efforts, and everything to do with God's Spirit at work. God's Grace and God's timing are perfect. I am reminded of that every single time we get to be at the Mission.
Over time, we've been privileged to invite folks to come and experience serving with us. Each time they remark how special it is to be at the Mission and they look forward to coming back. If you've not had an opportunity to volunteer recently, I strongly encourage you to contact City Mission. My son and I invite you to come to our "happy place" and to bring others to experience it with you. May God bless you richly, even as you bless others by your serving.
Peace to you and yours in this season of thanks.
Author: Andrea Starn
The City Mission of Findlay is a proud member of the following organizations:
Citygate Network Mission Member, and Findlay Hancock Chamber of Commerce