As we serve in the pregnancy center ministry, we find that individuals, both female and male, come to us as a direct result of seeking love. Yes, looking for love in all the wrong places and ways, their desire to be accepted and fulfilled as a person prompts unhealthy decisions. More times than we realize, young women participate in sexual behavior outside of marriage motivated by their goal of pleasing their boyfriend rather than because they enjoy sex.
We recognize the relationship as being based on the premise that the young woman is there to provide pleasure for her boyfriend. Perhaps their relationship does not involve true love at all. As Christians, we realize the distortion of love in this type of relationship that usually involves the objectivization of the woman, not true love.
Clearly, Scripture speaks to the meaning of love. As we provide biblically based volunteer peer counseling in the pregnancy center, we strive to educate our clients about what constitutes a healthy understanding of the word love which, in our society, is used very carelessly and usually confused with emotional and sexual desire.
Often our clients find themselves feeling empty — in essence — their tank is empty. They seem to be looking for someone to fill their tank; to meet their need for love, to feel fulfilled, to be accepted, and to realize their value as a human being. However, clients are not the only ones looking to the center as a way to feel fulfilled and realize their value as a human being.
During the years I have been with Mercy CCPC, I have discovered and been challenged by an expression often used by potential volunteers during the interview process. "I have time on my hands and I need to do something to fill my time." Or, perhaps, "I'm facing early retirement, and I need to be active. I've worked my whole life. I need something to do." Another common expression, "I'm facing an empty nest, so I need to fill the gap."
We are thrilled to have a volunteer with time on her hands, with a strong work ethic, and one who brings years of experience. We are, however, faced with the harsh question that perhaps we did not consider in our early years of service within the pregnancy center doors. The question: What is the difference between the client who is seeking love in all the wrong places and the potential volunteer seeking to have her tank filled by a client? What? Let me explain.
Service in the pregnancy center ministry is a calling for board members, the director, and staff members as well as for every volunteer. If a volunteer serves with the goal in mind of being fulfilled by helping clients, what happens when a client decides to abort or continues to have sex outside of marriage? The volunteer who bases her service on finding fulfillment by seeing change in a client's life will invariably be disappointed.
During the interview process it is critical to challenge potential volunteers about how they are viewing their possible involvement with the center. Do they realize that this is a calling? Are they seeking to serve because they have been called by God, or is this simply a way of filling their day with something to do that would be rewarding?
THE VOLUNTEER WHO BASES HER SERVICE ON FINDING FULFILLMENT BY SEEING CHANGE IN A CLIENT'S LIFE WILL INVARIABLY BE DISAPPOINTED.
There are times when we discover the difference between a volunteer being called and simply seeking to have her tank filled. During the exit interview — when a volunteer has made the decision to no longer serve at the pregnancy center — the reason for leaving may be expressed in statements like, "I thought this would be more fulfilling. My time here has not been as fulfilling as I had hoped. This is not as rewarding as I had hoped it would be."
Are we serving in the pregnancy center to find fulfillment in our lives? Are we here because we are seeking to feel rewarded or to be thanked by those we serve? Or, are we answering the call of God to minister, to serve, and to represent Him to the lost?
During the interview process with a potential volunteer, be encouraged to raise questions concerning the call of God to serve. Address the topic of why the individual desires to volunteer at the center. Are they called to serve or are they seeking to have their tank filled? Those seeking to have their tank filled tend to be disappointed — just as our clients are disappointed in the tainted relationships they develop. Individuals who answer the call of God to serve at the pregnancy center find their approval, acceptance, and reward at the foot of the cross.
Sherry Camelleri is the Executive Director of Mercy Community Crisis Pregnancy Center, Reading, Pennsylvania. She says, "Serving at Mercy is the most wonderful, challenging, and rewarding opportunity that I have been blessed to encounter. Sherry can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.