Tennessee is known as the “Volunteer State,” because volunteer soldiers from Tennessee made a difference in the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and at other times when help was needed.
The dictionary describes a volunteer as “a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.” Volunteers willingly give of themselves without asking anything in return. Sometimes volunteers are paid, but most often they work for free and without pay.
Volunteers are very important in God’s work. Many churches, ministries, and social agencies could not function without volunteers. Although volunteers may not be paid in dollars, there are many benefits to volunteering for God. “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:24).
Volunteers at Church – In many churches, weekly and daily preparation for services, cleaning, yard work and much more is not done by church staff, but by volunteers. Sunday School teachers, nursery workers, bus ministry workers, deaf ministry interpreters, and many other workers are usually non-paid volunteers. It is good to remember this and to thank them for their efforts.
Volunteers in the Deaf Ministry – Professional interpreters often have had several years of training through an Interpreter Training Program (ITP) or through other class work. Many are certified, and some have specialty certification (for example: legal). Often church interpreters are not as highly trained. They may be volunteers with a heart for ministry and moderate sign language skill. They may not have had time or opportunity to get the additional training needed. Instead of complaining about signers’ lack of skill, it is better for Deaf people to encourage them and teach them the skills they need to improve. Remember, they are volunteers. One church interpreter said, “You teach me sign language and I will teach you the Bible.”
Volunteers in Missions – Missionary work requires sacrificing the comforts of a “normal” way of life and volunteering to help meet needs for other people groups. Missionaries to the Deaf are needed all around the world. There are many areas in the world where Deaf people need the Gospel. There are many cities in the United States that still need someone who can tell Deaf people about Jesus. Contact SWM for more information about missionary opportunities.
Volunteers at SWM – Every issue of the Silent Word Newspaper uses volunteer help. SWM missionaries edit, proofread, and prepare the newspaper. Deaf and hearing volunteers from our local deaf ministry and local churches prepare church packets and attach mailing labels. This is always an exciting time for all who come. Other volunteer projects at SWM include the proofreading of printed material, typing, computer maintenance, web site updates and proofreading, video production and editing, yard work, cleaning, and much more. We are grateful for the many people who help. More volunteers are needed. Contact us for more information about how you can help!
Encouraging Volunteers – Sometimes people do not volunteer because they are not aware of the needs. It is important to share the needs so others can become involved. God uses what we have seen and heard to affect our hearts. Leadership should encourage volunteers in their work. Deaf people should encourage their interpreters who volunteer. Deaf ministry leaders should encourage Deaf people who volunteer in ministry. Realize that volunteers may be not be working in their areas of expertise. For example, church interpreters may be homemakers or businesspeople to whom God has given a special burden or calling. All volunteers need encouragement.
How to Encourage Volunteers
- Tell them thank you.
- Be genuinely grateful for their service.
- Talk positively about their efforts.
- Never be critical of their volunteer work.
- Write a note of appreciation.
How to Be a Volunteer – How to Recruit Volunteers
- Encourage people to volunteer within their areas of expertise, using their gifts and talents.
- Be a volunteer yourself – demonstrate sacrifice.
- Encourage volunteers to start slowly, accepting small responsibilities first.
- Make volunteering a positive experience for all involved by encouraging and rewarding effort.