Encouragement Gained from a Week Spent Serving Others
1st Corinthians 12:12-27
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Late Wednesday night, ten tired bodies sat in metal folding chairs listening to this verse being read. We had three days of serving at Stepping Stones Camp under our belts, and we were looking for encouragement to make it through the last day. Eight junior high students and two adults came together to form ten different personalities and ten different strengths and ten different weaknesses that all blended together for one week of serving. Our days were spent working with children with special needs, and our evenings were spent bonding and making memories as a team.
Each person’s experience at camp was different from the next. Just as no two people in our team were the same, no two participants at the camp were the same. There was a wide spectrum of disabilities amongst the participants, and a wide spectrum of challenges for those working with them. Everyone in our group was assigned to working one-on-one with a different participant, and everyone ended the day full of joy and drained of energy. As volunteers, we played, we hugged, we chased, we swam, we swung, we climbed, we threw, we walked, we painted, we colored, and we created right alongside each participant. We built friendships and spent the long, hot hours investing in precious lives.
Just as the church is described in Corinthians, so was our group. Each one of us brought something to the week that no one else could bring. We were not all feet, nor were we all heads, yet we were all necessary. Some of us were needed to hold a hand. Some of us were needed to push a wheel chair. Some of us were needed to sit and be a companion. Some of us were needed to run. Some of us were needed to talk. Each and every one of us was needed for a specific task that God put before us. It might not have always been the task of our choosing, but it was our task nonetheless.
After this verse was read to our group, we invested the next hour in sharing encouraging words with each other. We acknowledged those that had particularly challenging days, and we praised the efforts of those who held onto a good attitude and servant’s heart. We recognized that each experience was unique and we all shared in the lessons learned.
As an adult who sacrificed family time and financial gain to be present for the week, this night was one of the most rewarding times. It reiterated why we were there. Not only was I personally encouraged by kind words spoken to me, but I was doubly encouraged to hear the students encourage one another. Words were spoken not only to friends, but also to those brothers and sisters who were not close friends prior to the trip. Seeing the friendships that were built and hearing the lessons the students were taking away from the week lifted my spirit in ways indescribable.
Two days later, after a long week serving at the camp and a day spent in the heat at an amusement park, the four students in the car with me were knocked out on the drive home. As we neared Columbus and I thought back over the week, my thoughts were interrupted by a small voice from the backseat that made the trip worth it:
“Hey Randi – thanks for bringing us this week. It was a lot of fun and we really learned a lot.”