Let's Talk

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I'd Like to Serve, But How?

I've been hearing a lot lately about volunteering. I'm really interested in serving other people, but I'm not sure how to get started. I live in a pretty small town, so there aren't a lot of opportunities. How do I start volunteering?

Great question. I'm excited about the recent national emphasis on volunteerism. One of the things the Bible makes very clear is that the call to Christ is the call to serve. In fact, God's command to care for the poor and oppressed is stressed throughout the Bible.

Probably the best example of service is Jesus himself. After Jesus washed his disciples' feet, he said to them, "I have set for you an example that you should do as I have done for you" (John 13:15). And many Christians have followed Christ's example. I love the quote by the physician Albert Schweitzer: "I don't know what your destiny will be, but the ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve." Serving others is part of how we live out Christ's love on earth.

That's why it's great you're excited about volunteering. And living in a small town doesn't have to keep you from serving others. There are hurting people in every town who need your care and concern. Look in the Yellow Pages under "Social Services." Call a few of the numbers you find there. If they can't use your help, they'll be able to direct you to organizations that can.

You may also want to think about your own interests, hobbies, and skills and go from there. If you like working with children, volunteer to babysit during a church gathering. If you like to talk to people, find out how you can become a volunteer at a nursing home, where the residents are often short on visitors. Or try one of these ideas:

  • Adopt a "grandparent" in your neighborhood
  • Volunteer to visit sick children or other patients in the hospital
  • Teach a children's Sunday school class
  • Offer to work a few hours a month in the office at your church
  • Tutor a child
  • Help build low-income housing with an area chapter of Habitat for Humanity
  • Provide free babysitting to a young family
  • Work at an area soup kitchen or homeless shelter once a month

And remember that your volunteer opportunities aren't limited to your hometown:

  • Sponsor a child through Children International (1-800-411-1551), World Vision (1-800-448-6437) or Compassion International (1-800-336-7676)
  • Talk to your youth pastor about short-term missions opportunities

There are endless ways to serve others. All you need to do is decide how you'd like to help, make a few calls, and you're ready to go. With enthusiasm and a genuinely caring heart, your efforts can have a big impact on the lives of others.

I Can't Stand My Stepfamily

My parents are divorced and my mom remarried a few years ago. But I don't get along with my new family. My stepsister is a real snob and totally rude. My mom and my stepdad argue all the time. I liked it so much better when it was just my mom, my brothers and me.

I feel so depressed about this. What can I do?

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