This Week's Comment from Network 7 News 

Edition 356 – April 24, 2004.  

 This weeks comment was written by AWR's  English Language Service Director, Victor Hulbert.  The full programme can be heard in Real Audio on our web-site.

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Spirit of volunteerism

I have to confess, it’s fun working with students, and the couple of days we spent at Southern Adventist University reminded me of the talent and initiative that so fills this world.  

There’s a vibrancy and a demand for action, an idealism that we sometimes loose as we get older.  Of course, there’s the fun side as well – and every time I’m on a US campus I seem to spend a lot of time with students comparing accents – and telling them its not American English and British English – It’s American English and English.  Of course, when they think I come from South Africa or Australia then I really get worried!  It’s fun though, and we have a great time.  

I’ve seen the idealism at Southern – and this week I just saw it reflected in my local church youth group.  Two of my children raised funds to join a group of 17 teens, spending their Easter break in Romania .  They gave up their time to help work with children in an orphanage.  They came back last Thursday night so excited!   Amy’s 14 and she just kept saying, “I’m missing the kids!  They’re so cute – and their so happy with so little.”  

Tim, three years older, is looking for ways to go back, perhaps as early as this summer.  The orphanage is trying to raise funds to build some more social houses on their 25 acre estate.  These are houses were two “parents” will look after a family of 9 children – making it more like a home.  The youth here are now looking to raise £10,000 (18,000US$) to pay for one of those homes.  I met a couple of them in town this morning – they were just so enthusiastic.  They’ve seen they can make a difference.  

That’s what I liked about Eric Henton’s report of the Mission Expo.  It’s representative of the literally thousands of youth, across the world, volunteering their time to make a difference.  Some of them are teaching on remote islands in the south pacific.  Some are working in hospitals, some in agricultural projects, some in orphanages, youth projects, and a whole myriad or ministries that it would take too long to list here.  And it changes lives.  I know – for it did the same for me when, many years back, I took a year of college to volunteer in Portugal .  Volunteering helps other people, but it also helps the individual.  

That’s equally why I chose to include Jessamynn Land ’s report of the firefighting volunteers.  Youth and adults working together to make a difference in their local community.  Volunteering doesn’t need to be far from home.  – and nor does it need to be limited to youth.  I know an 81 year old lady who gets great satisfaction from visiting a 93 year old blind man, and reading to him for several hours a week,  -- a lady in her 70’s who provides counselling and comfort for victims of crime,  --  a middle-aged man who likes to spend an hour or two at the local police station visiting prisoners in the police cells.  Why do they do it?  

A cynic might quote Jesus parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 – Jesus telling the sheep that they’ve made it into the kingdom because they fed the hungry and visited the prisoner – and in doing so did these good deeds to Jesus himself.  But a closer reading of the parable points out that the outwardly righteous felt that doing those deeds was beneath them, whereas the genuinely righteous got their hands dirty not even realising they were doing it for Jesus – they did it just for the pleasure of bringing joy into other peoples lives.   

I’ve just discovered that my cousin’s husband is a brilliant physiotherapist.  I was sitting in his living room when he said, “Victor, you necks troubling you isn’t it?”  I had to agree with him.  It had been bothering me for several months.  He whipped me into his consulting room.  Five minutes and a couple of painful cracks later, my neck freed up – and I felt so good.  And so did he.  His pleasure came from seeing me relieved of pain.  

Jesus always has a positive way of putting it.  Here’s Luke 6:31 from the Message translation:  

    "Here is a simple rule of thumb for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!  

School of Journalism. Southern Adventist University. . .  and I’m sure that’s why Paul states that God created us for good works (Eph 2:10 ) – just for the pleasure we get – and the joy we can share.   

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