KidREACH Celebration

It is a known fact that BelPres seeks to actively serve others – bringing revival to the Eastside and around the world. This past year, I have personally seen God’s love manifested through many of you here at this church. God’s heart for His people is so evident to me at BelPres.  Tutors, students and families involved with KidREACH have shown me this. If you are not familiar with this tutoring ministry, you may ask yourself, “how is helping a struggling student with homework a part of Kingdom work”? The first words that come to mind are those of Jesus Christ instructing His disciples “Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4). These words spoken by God’s Son are powerful, yet humbling. In order to bring God’s Kingdom we must humble ourselves as Jesus teaches.

Tutors, volunteers, parents and students—the KidREACH family—have taught me that humility and dependence on Christ are absolutely necessary in order to be an effective worker for God in building His Kingdom. As children and youth, ranging between the ages of 5-18, begin tutoring often overwhelmed or lost in their studies, I see tutors exemplifying Christ by giving themselves up for these children. That being said, learning disabilities or lack of motivation do not disappear overnight or even over the course of a year, making the consistent commitment by tutors and families a necessity. The challenges are real and complicated for many of these students, but through relying on God and humbly sacrificing time and energy, volunteers are slowly seeing new confidence, motivation and interest in their student.

I am so grateful to God for His faithfulness to this amazing ministry!  In this ministry, much more than solving tricky math problems or preparing for a vocabulary quiz takes place. God’s Kingdom is alive in so many little things: the energy and joy tutors find by serving at the end of their busy days, the smiles and laughter of the students, and the peace seen in the entire family as a result of this supportive community. God’s Kingdom – a place where God is known, loved, and worshipped – is not only being built in the lives of the students and families that come for help, but in the lives of each volunteer as well. Lives are being transformed through snack time, talking about classes and life, and celebrating the culmination of another school year.  Tutors cement the truth that “it is better to give than receive” and that together, by humbly giving ourselves up for others, God’s Kingdom is brought to Earth.

Earlier this month KidREACH celebrated its 14th end-of-year party. The following pictures are proof that God’s Kingdom is alive and tangibly felt in this community.

If you would like to learn more about this tutoring ministry or would like to be involved, please contact GetConnected.

4 Things Every Volunteer Should Know

By Rev. Rich Leatherberry, Associate Pastor for Mission

Helping others is one of the best ways we can demonstrate the love of Jesus. Here are four principles that will make you a better volunteer and improve your experience.

1. Relationships come first.  We live in a task-oriented culture filled with micro-wave fixes to multiple source problems. We rush to solutions, try to fix or change something without really getting to know the other person. Relationships are God’s stage for life change. Regularly meeting with someone, loving them, listening to them, earning trust, staying with them no matter what is going on in their life, help us find out where someone is really aching and where they are faking in life. That’s when we discover what people really need. Relationships come first.

2. Come as a learner. We are lifelong students in God’s global classroom. We have so much to learn from the people we serve. They expand our hearts and help us become more compassionate people. They show us more about Jesus and what it means to be one of His followers. They teach us about love and grace and forgiveness. God not only uses us to make other people better. He uses other people to make us better, if we will let Him.

3. With not for. Jesus’ ministry was about empowering and releasing others. The feeding of the 5,000 is a great example. The disciples told Jesus there was a problem, i.e. there were lots of hungry people who needed something to eat. But instead of solving the problem for them, He did it with them. Jesus collected the food they had, blessed it and then gave it back to them to give away to the masses. The miracle happened as the disciples gave the food away and everyone was fed. Jesus didn’t do it for them. He did it with them, empowering and releasing them. Whatever you are doing to volunteer and serve, find ways to empower and release. Do it with others not for them.

4. All About Jesus. There are lots of reasons why we volunteer. One reason is because it feels good, i.e. “I do it for me.” A second reason is because it helps someone else, i.e. “I do it for them”.  These are great reasons but they can also have a dark side. For example, when “I do it for me’ then I am in danger of exploiting other people for my benefit and my greatest concern becomes whether this is working out well for me. Similarly, when “I do it for them”, I am in danger of placing all my expectations on them. They need to become who I think they should be, do what I think they should do and improve according to the timelines I have set. But when this happens, burn-out, frustration and deep disappointment are not far behind.
A third reason to volunteer is for love of Jesus, all that He is and all that He does to rescue this world. (I do it for Him). There is no dark side here.  Jesus is the reason we serve and the one who serves through us. We serve with His love and compassion, act as His hands and feet, accept and forgive others with His grace. And when it’s all for Jesus then everyone gets better; the volunteer and the people we serve .

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Let me know what you think. What has been your greatest challenge as a volunteer? What principles have helped you the most?