Volunteers play a huge role in “rebuilding communities”. They care enough to love and think and work out sustainable solutions to help their suffering neighbors. The Biblical command to love includes sacrificially giving to God both what we earn and ourselves.
The people of Central Europe and Eurasia have been hard at work for the last 20 years rebuilding communities and economies broken by 40 (Central Europe) to 70 years (Soviet Union) of life under coerced “collectivism” originally founded on a theology of materialism.
The lesson of the Soviet Union for me is that when people are taught to believe one’s economic output is all that matters and that an individual has no eternal worth endowed by the Creator, then coercion or self preservation are the only motivators that remain to rescue some sense of community. In the “worker’s paradise” life was a lonely slog devoid of caring acts of love from neighbors. Unless … Unless, one chose to believe differently that individuals do have inherent worth to the Creator and are valued as a person and not just for what they produce.
In a socialist state, the government takes responsibility for every social need: education, employment, information, protection, medical care … Logically, citizens quickly learn that if the government has taken responsibility for the unfortunate, then one’s neighbor is not their concern. Ironically, it becomes easy to be selfish and let the “expert professionals” who are paid to care for the hurting do “their” job. The only reason to act differently for a neighbor is if they had something of value to trade back as payment. Heroes who sacrificed for a socialist cause or battled for the homeland were praised. But the lowest paid, least valued position in the economy of socialism was a job serving the sick, the disabled or the dying. The hurting were treated as useless objects. One trusted their own family and perhaps a few coworkers.
Leading Edge International partners with believers who have volunteered to help orphans in Irkutsk, foster children in Kiev, Roma (gypsies) children in Sofia, refugees in Moscow. They didn’t have examples of generations before. And there were no annual walk-a-thons or Lutheran Hospitals or United Way or Salvation Army that make it easy or even normal to give. They were motivated by the Word of God and His Spirit to demonstrate love to their neighbors.
Many of us in America learned from our parent’s example how to offer the gift of volunteering. The rest of us can hardly miss opportunities to volunteer on boards, PTA, fundraisers, and Sunday school. We may not be as generous a nation as we like to believe, but the average American household does give 3.7% of their income to charity. Let’s not make the mistake that occurred in Europe in the last century and give up our freedom to love our neighbor to a nameless, unaccountable bureaucrat who has only their own self-interest at heart.
Oh, what is the volunteer’s reward? Yes, occasionally we see smiles and hear thank you. But restored communities begin with love invested by volunteers with the faith to act on a vision of hope.
Will you take up the challenge of our partners’ examples and get involved with the poor or suffering in your community?