For the past two years, I have volunteered at the Floris Guest House with many other members of my church family. The Floris Guest House is special to me personally because it is an overlap of two important parts of my life. The guests we serve at the Floris Guest House during the evening hours are often the same guests we serve at The Lamb Center during the day.
The Lamb Center, where I have been volunteering since 2008, is a local day shelter for homeless and poor individuals located in Fairfax City. The Lamb Center is a Christian organization dedicated to providing a place of respite to those in our community who may not have anywhere else to go. The Lamb Center guests have access to breakfast and lunch, as well as showers and laundry services. Dedicated staff and volunteers are there to assist those who visit with accessing other services they might need, such as healthcare, mental health services, job placement and veteran benefits. The Lamb Center offers two Bible studies every day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and the community gathers to pray seven times a day. While Bible study and prayer are always optional, the care given to each individual who walks through the door is offered with the hopes that they will know how very much God loves them.
In the years since I began serving weekly at The Lamb Center, I have been stretched. Initially, I was overwhelmed by my sense of inadequacy in the face of such great need. I was moved and humbled by the stories of the people I met around the Bible study table each week, yet what could I do to help? What did a wealthy suburban mom have to offer someone living in the desperate circumstances many of these folks find themselves in?
Simply put, I have myself to give. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I can offer my friends at the shelter my love, my listening ear, the touch of my hand, a warm hug, a moment of prayer or a kind word. I have my unique life experiences to offer—the losses I have survived, the pain I have felt, the joy of knowing God and the wisdom of following God. I have my love of God’s word to share and the knowledge that the promises within are for every single one of us, regardless of our circumstances, our resources or our past.
I have me to offer, a gift no one else can give.
In the years I have spent with my friends at the center, I have received more than I have given. Through my involvement in this holy community, I experience God’s presence and I am changed. God takes my willingness to offer myself, and like the story of the loaves and fishes, God multiplies my humble gifts to feed his hungry children. I pour myself out and I am filled. The kingdom of God at work!
My story is true for each one of us. I am lucky to be part of a church that offers so many different opportunities to serve both in the church and in the larger community. We each have unique gifts to give to a hurting world, but we must be willing to leave behind the comfortable and the familiar. Our stories can bring healing to others but only if we are willing to share them.
The Lord says he will guide us always, but first we must say yes!
“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58: 10-11.
Learn more about The Lamb Center at TheLambCenter.org.