For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. (1Cor 9:19)
In Paul's letter to the Corinthians he writes to them about service. But in the text service does not only mean a specific action, but rather a way of living life.
PAUL'S LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS
Paul chose to be a servant when he was free to do anything. This is a hard choice for people. Because it means my freedom is not the end of the story. When I become free, that's when I can start honestly serve others. But serve them how? What to do? Who to serve? How to do it? Serving is not only an activity as many of us reckon, but a way of thinking when the narrative is changed from me to us.
In today's world freedom is one of the highest values and desires that means doing anything I want to do and not doing what I don't want to. Finally I am free to focus on myself, my life, my success. But Paul looks at it from a different angle. He says when you are free is when you can serve others the best. Freedom and service are more connected then we'd think. In serving others is when we face the reality of our freedom and get to answer hard questions.
If today we want to win people we think we need to be smarter, stronger, better than them. Compete and win. But Paul says something very different. He says serve and win. The way to win people's heart is not to defeat them but to serve them, help them, teach them and walk with them in their lives. A completely different narrative that impacts our lives and communities once it is deeply experienced.
SERVING PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEED
Our service projects mostly focus on people (both kids and adults) with special needs (either mental of physical or both). Their world is a beautiful world that both has a lot to receive and a lot to give.
WHAT WE CAN RECEIVE
If you have talked to anyone who has been around people with special needs you probably have heard them saying "I feel I got more than what I gave". So many times we feel like this. The world we are becoming a part of really gets us to think about life, question who we really are and what does it mean to live a life. Along with these questions, participants also find themselves in an environment that challenges them to bring out their skills and develop them.
WHAT WE CAN GIVE
We don't have to be professionals to be able to serve people with special needs. At most places they get a professional support anyways. What we can give to them is attention, love and friendship. A real human relationship. Talking to them, playing with them, working with them, being with them. Those small acts that seem to play a less frequent role in our lives mean more for them than what we can imagine.
HOW DO WE DO THIS?
A well-led preparation enriches the action part. Participants know what to focus on, how to work together in a team, how to handle challenges, how to face unexpected situations and what to pay attention to. All of a sudden a simple activity becomes a very complex and exciting environment that puts us outside of our comfort zone and helps us develop and contribute.
Preparation is a very important part of service because it sets the environment even before starting serving. Managing expectations, building team, setting a vision, developing skills, creating an environment of safety have to happen before action and are absolutely key for a successful service program that develops us and gives us a positive experience.
We can 't really benefit from experiences unless we properly reflect on them. It takes time to think back, journal, talk, evaluate. But this is the hard work we have to make afterwards to be able to really learn from our experiences. And when we do it in a group we can see how different people with different backgrounds and personalities saw different things.
With our service programs we have two major aims.
ONE is to provide help, support and encouragement where they are needed. SECOND is to help students to move from service being only an action towards service being a way of thinking and living life. The preparation-action-reflection model is a great tool for that.
RAINBOW HOME TISZAFURED
SAINT NICHOLAS CHILDRENHOME AND SCHOOL
PARTNERS and PROGRMAS