At Hands at Work, our volunteers are called by God from all over the world to serve the most vulnerable in Africa. Each of us has a unique story of how we were transformed when we stepped out in faith and were obedient to His call.
Jed and his wife, Brooke, had talked for many years about serving others. “Although my mouth was willing, I don’t know that my mind or heart really understood what I was getting into”, Jed says. They spent a long time trying to find a missions organisation to serve with, and struggled to find a good fit. “Which was fine with me,” Jed says. “I liked my job, my friends, and had a fairly comfortable life.”
Eventually, Jed and Brooke decided to apply to the Peace Corps. They were asked six weeks in advance if they would be willing to go to South Africa and had to give an answer within a few hours. “We had been waiting for so long, and even though we knew nothing about South Africa or what we would be doing, we said yes.” When they got to South Africa, the Peace Corps staff asked if they would be willing to serve with a faith-based volunteer organisation. “We were thrilled, and said actually we would prefer it!” Jed and Brooke went for a four-day visit to Hands at Work. “Although we knew so little about what Hands at Work was, we felt like there was something special. We had originally committed to a two-year term with the Peace Corps, but we extended for a third year to continue serving with Hands, and then headed back to the US.”
When asked how following his calling and serving with Hands at Work has impacted him, Jed says:
I grew up in the church and heard sermon after sermon about my relationship with God. Salvation was this thing for me. I always felt there was something missing, but really couldn't put my finger on it. I was regularly reminded of Ephesians 2:8-9, "You are saved by grace through faith, this is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works that no man should boast." I was saved, I was going to heaven and that was it. But when I came to Hands at Work I saw this group of people living a life of service for the most vulnerable. I saw this other side of the gospel and had an amazing, "Aha!" moment. Later, I remember hearing it explained in a sermon about righteousness and justice. Righteousness is our right standing with God and justice is our relationship with our neighbour. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Mark 12:30-31)
The gospel without either one of these two is an incomplete gospel. If our understanding of Christ's love and sacrifice for us doesn't come pouring out as love and sacrifice for others, we are missing it. It brings me back to Ephesians and verse 2:10," For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." The good works don't save us, but they are the fruit of our salvation.
After serving in Africa for three years, Jed continues to serve the most vulnerable in his own country. Today, Jed and Brooke volunteer for the Hands at Work office in the US. When asked about the challenges he faces as he continues to follow his calling, Jed says, “Trying to know what is next! So often we want to see the big picture. The problem with that is if we saw the big picture, many times it would scare us so much we wouldn't even take the first step. So, when we only see the first step we have to be willing to take it, not knowing where it might lead.”
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Learn more about volunteering with Hands at Work: www.handsatwork.org/come