By Becky Catlett
My husband, John, and I walked into Redeemer one Sunday morning almost 5 years ago with some very specific skill sets as a graphic designer and photojournalist. After a few months of seeing how the Lord was working through this church body we started to ask ourselves, how can we be part of this? More specifically, how can we put our servant hearts to use here? Especially for a couple who aren't incredibly outgoing at the start.
All it took was innocently writing my name down on a Vacation Bible School volunteer sheet and the rest really is history. I discovered that my love and need to create and my husbands ability to see the bigger picture and subsequently build those creations can be funneled into projects here such as creating decorations for VBS. Working behind the scenes also suits a part of our personalities that prefer to be the elves to the shoemaker and sort of slip in and set up, while those better suited to speaking in front of a crowd would teach and lead.
After that first vacation bible school I could see that alongside other volunteers Gods word was being introduced in a very tangible way to countless children, some of whom may not have ever heard it before. Seeing the enthusiasm, joy and excitement on those kids faces hooked my heart. I had to be a part of it.
Over the past 5 years there have been countless opportunities for us to put our professional skills to work through presentation materials and photos. There also have been opportunities for us to indulge our hobbies while serving. For my husband, it's building with his woodworking tools or working the landscape. For me it has been making artwork and other visual elements in some of the rooms.
More often than not, though, there have been opportunities for us to problem solve, to meet a challenge, to stretch our skill sets and to go beyond what our personal preferences dictate in order to meet the needs here. Case in point, speaking to large crowds. Typically not my thing. Let me give you another scenario. Say a guy named Rogers and another guy named Scott stopped me in the hallway and said, "hey, want to look at this new space we have?" Why, sure, I'd say. "Hey, what would you do in this space?" they might ask. Oh, I'd put a couch here and a table here, I'd say. "Hey, that's a great idea would you consider helping us do that?" they might inquire.
Ok, so that really happened and no, I'm definitely not an interior designer. So it leads me to believe that I'm either hanging around these hallways too frequently looking bored or someone sees a skill in me that I hadn't considered before. The need was real and the challenge was even more real and I'm forever grateful that the Lord guided my heart to say "yes, I'll help out". Because just as with all the other opportunities that I've experienced in serving here at Redeemer I've received gifts far greater than any gift or skill I could offer.
I get to see the love of Jesus in the faces of all those kids as they sing songs of praise every morning at VBS. If you haven't experienced that, I encourage you to. I get to collaborate with my husband on graphic design projects and VBS decorations and even in moments of debate over how to build a lighthouse out of a refrigerator box the Lord is strengthening our marriage and showing our children God's love in action. As I participate in transforming an empty space into a cozy place for our youth to hang out, I get to watch as THEY transform into young adults who, by the grace of God, will fully know and accept the love of Jesus.
I've been granted countless opportunities to talk with the public about the good things the Lord is doing at Redeemer as I go on my annual quest for free materials for the VBS decorations. And the bonds that have been strengthened with folks here at Redeemer are lifelong and a living testimony to the love of God. You see if I'm here working on something, at least three of my kids are here with me. And that means they are creating their own bonds with this church body. They are witnessing God's love in action. And that is pretty powerful to watch.
So I encourage you all to think about your own gifts, skills, passions and hobbies and how they can best be utilized to strengthen each other and lift up this church body to better share the love of the Lord. I challenge you to stretch yourselves in moments where you feel like you're not skilled enough or don't have enough time to give. No matter your age, no matter your skill set, no matter the amount of time you have...oh how deep runs the love of Jesus.