Since October of 2014, I have been volunteering at Through the Gate. I have committed to staying on average 1-2 nights a week at the facility with the women in the program. Sometime after I became a volunteer, I was asked to come on as a Through the Gate board member, and have been a part of it ever since.
Over the past year and a half, I have been blessed with the opportunity to see the program grow and change in many ways. I remember when our Director first felt led to begin this program, and how much time and prayer was put into the ministry in order to get it where it is today. It is amazing to see how God has orchestrated it all in His timing. There were many times when it seemed nearly impossible to make Through the Gate a reality, but God has been faithful every step of the way. Philippians chapter four verse nineteen says; “19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” I have found this to be absolutely true!
Although I will tell you now that I am extremely grateful for the chance to serve in this ministry, I must be honest and say that I have not always felt this way. I can remember about two years ago when we had a meeting after church one Sunday and our pastor asked for all the ladies of StoneWater Church to pray and consider volunteering to stay at Through the Gate. We are a small church, and I knew that not many would volunteer. I felt bad because I didn’t want to see only a few people sign up and each have to do multiple shifts. I had no desire to volunteer to stay myself…but I signed up anyway.
Truthfully the reason I volunteered was because of how close I was with the pastor and his family, and I did not want others to see me not helping out and wonder why. It was a pride issue. I was more worried about others viewing me as selfish with my time (which was absolutely true) than choosing to serve others like Christ. Driven by my pride, I reluctantly volunteered to stay on Wednesday evenings.
I remember being nervous (not knowing what we would talk about) as I went to stay my first night with our first woman in the program. Despite my worrying about not being able to carry on a conversation, we spent hours sharing with each other about our lives. I ended up staying awake way past what I had planned because of how much I was enjoying getting to know her.
When we finished talking, I was getting ready to go to sleep and saw a text from a friend saying how proud of me they were that I chose to serve in this way. I immediately felt guilty and began to cry, knowing that the heart behind my service was not right. I admitted that I did not choose to serve with the right motives, and cried to God in repentance. He showed me that night how selfish I had been and sparked in me a real desire to continue serving. I prayed about my heart, as I realized how much God had blessed me that night despite my wrongful attitude. I began to understand just how much influence I could have on a person’s life by choosing to submit to the Lord and serve. It was eye-opening to say the least.
After that night, I decided that I wanted to start volunteering for more than just my one day a week, and offered to cover whenever others needed a break. Since then, I have continued serving at Through the Gate in more ways than one. I cannot begin to express how blessed I have been through all of it. It has been amazing to see so many women grow in the Lord and watch as their lives are changed. I will say it’s not always easy, but no one ever said it would be. As believers, we are called to serve one another in love—not just when it is easy! Galatians chapter five tells us; “13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesha ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
I am so thankful for all the ways God has used this ministry to help women, but I am especially grateful for how He has used it to help me. I never anticipated that I would be so blessed by Through the Gate, as God has definitely used it to help me grow in my own walk.
I hope that others are encouraged to know that God can absolutely change your desires, even when it is something that you really struggle with. I have prayed for Him to give me a heart to serve others, and help me to be others-focused instead of self-focused. While I know that I will continue to struggle at times, I can definitely say that the Lord has been faithful in answering that prayer.
“23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” –Colossians 3:23-24