Our Volunteers: On a Mission

It's their desire to be part of God's work that leads our volunteers to assist in many ways (from Issue #493)

It’s their desire to be part of God’s work that leads our volunteers to assist in many ways

Art Lane has a power saw screaming in the basement of NCEM’s Headquarters Office building under reconstruction. If you need to talk to him in between cuts, you’ll have to follow him to and from the interior doorways he’s working on. And you’ll have to walk fast — Art is one of NCEM’s many volunteer workers who’s obviously on a mission.

You won’t find their names listed among our NCEM members, but we couldn’t get along without our volunteers. So what motivates them? And how do they get involved?

Hands on Approach

Volunteering just seems to be a way of life for Art, who retired from farming a few years ago, and for his good friend and regular coworker, Jack Matiko. Not surprisingly, NCEM isn’t the only place they’ve found to serve. Their desire to help in missions has taken them as far as Haiti and Mexico numerous times, and to opportunities right in their home city of Saskatoon, SK.

But projects with NCEM seem to hold a special place in their hearts. Art and Jack first got involved building a cabin at our Big River Bible Camp about 10 years earlier. Before long they were invited to sit on the Camp Committee — which hasn’t really involved that much “sitting.” Ongoing facility development at Big River has meant hands-on work, just what they like. Their wives have volunteered in the Camp kitchen.

Right after hearing about our Headquarters Office fire, Art and Jack offered to assist with the reconstruction. They helped tear out smoke-damaged material, dismantle the roof and framing, and continued with the rebuilding.

Especially for Art, though, volunteering has meant more than just the physical work. It’s been about getting others involved. Art has enthusiastically recruited retired and semi-retired Saskatoon men for the Headquarters project. Regularly he and Jack organized crews to come up one day a week.

Directly Connecting

It’s their desire to be part of God’s work that leads our volunteers to assist in many ways. And some of them have the privilege of more directly connecting with the First Nations people we’re seeking to reach for Christ.

John Dueck has served as a pastor, but says he has always seen himself as “more than a preacher.” Local churches, he observes, can easily overlook people in their communities who need Christ — people who will never step inside their doors. His involvement as a volunteer with our Tribal Trails television ministry gives him opportunity to connect with those kind of people.

Many weeks, from Monday till Saturday, John takes phone calls from Tribal Trails viewers seeking spiritual help. The calls come anytime of the day or night. John and his wife, Helen, have their home in Lanigan (SK), but using a cell phone for this ministry means he is not tied down. When the phone rings, however, it does mean dropping what he’s doing or, when in a public place, moving to a quiet spot.

John’s cross-cultural pastoral experience in Arviat (Nunavut) and a couple of short-term foreign mission trips help qualify him for this ministry. He regularly preaches in various churches, but says he’s most fulfilled when he’s in front-line outreach like this. As a pastor he has always tried to connect with people who aren’t connected to the church.

John tells about a lengthy conversation with a Tribal Trails caller from Alberta. The man called initially asking for prayer for a physical need. Through their talk John discovered that the fellow had spent over 20 years in jail for killing someone. The man seemed to be genuinely born again, and their conversation focused on Jesus, His grace and forgiveness.

If he can continue to help and encourage people like that, says John, he’s more than happy to serve as an NCEM volunteer worker.

So Many Aspects

The names of all our volunteers and the ways they assist are too numerous to list. At Tribal Trails a few others help with calls from viewers, and some do program “transcribing” from their homes (all our recorded interviews and songs are typed word for word).

Some of our volunteers assist as cooks, maintenance workers, cabin leaders and teachers at our Native Bible camps. Some help our field missionaries with various ministry projects. Volunteers have assisted in just about every aspect of our Mission … even the print issues of our Northern Lights magazine come to you with the help of volunteers doing address labelling.

Adapted from our Northern Lights magazine (Issue #475). Note: some of the locations and involvements of our volunteers and missionaries may have changed since the original publishing of this article.