Learning About God’s Love at Hope Academy
I began volunteering with second graders at Hope Academy five months ago. I volunteer one time per week, working with a teacher and small group of students on reading and spelling. At first, I was apprehensive about my qualifications for volunteering, as I have limited experience working with kids and teaching. In fact, I still worry that I am not the best fit for teaching spelling and reading to second graders.
Nevertheless, over the past few months, I have seen time and again the value of having another adult to help manage the energy and chaos of second graders. Rather than having to corral five kids and keep them focused while also teaching a lesson, the teacher is able to provide additional support to two or three of them while I work with the others.
Not only has volunteering provided benefit to the teacher, but is has revealed in me the tendency to treat even ‘selfless’ volunteer opportunities in a self-centered manner. There is a certain excitement that comes with starting to help out in any ministry; but as time goes on, the novelty and enthusiasm can wear off, leading to a feeling of obligation and duty rather than eagerness to help.
Often, I find that this leads me to jumping between volunteer opportunities, chasing after that initial feeling of fulfillment rather than serving for the glory of Christ. Volunteering at Hope Academy has humbled me in revealing this tendency, but has also encouraged and spurred me on, showing me the value of commitment and faithfulness.
It is heartwarming to see the enthusiasm on their faces when I enter the classroom. So even on the days when I feel inadequate as a classroom volunteer, I have a strong desire to be there; not because I think I can teach them better than their teacher, but because I have an opportunity to show these children the love of Christ, and have an opportunity to be an example of His faithfulness.
God has given me a deep love and compassion for these children, but it is not a transactional nature; even their excitement and energy can turn sour, making them hard to manage or disobedient. Even within those times though, the overwhelming notion is a desire to love them as children of God!
Within my own life, I frequently struggle with trusting in God’s faithfulness. I have never had a reason to doubt it, but I see my own sinfulness and view it as a barrier to receiving rather than a cause for rejoicing in the faithful love of Christ. Since working with the kids and beginning to process the love that God has given me for them, I have gained insight into the love that God has towards me. It is not dependent on what I am doing, or even if I am readily accepting it. He loves me because of his deep compassion and glorious nature.
– Nate Kirkwood