A Call to Volunteerism

Do you know the nickname that’s given to the state of Tennessee in the United States? It’s called “The Volunteer State” and it was through the efforts of about 2,000 volunteers under the leadership of General Andrew Jackson that contributed to the successful outcome in the American War of 1812 against the British. These men also fought a key battle on behalf of another state in the battle of New Orleans in 1815. This fighting force inspired another 30,000 volunteers from Tennessee in the Mexican War in 1846-48. They deemed their cause to be greater than themselves and their own state. It’s an enduring tribute that continues to thrive to this day. 

I believe this is the standard that God wants to establish in Cornerstone. The upcoming Kingdom Invasion is much more than just a conference. In fact, it’s a cause that’s greater than ourselves and Cornerstone. It’s about God’s Kingdom! As the hosting church, Cornerstone has unique opportunities to take volunteerism to a whole new level. This would have long-term benefits for both Cornerstone and its members beyond the success of a Kingdom Invasion Conference.

What does it really mean to be a “volunteer”? To some it would depend on what one’s volunteering to do. My wife shares an account of an incident that took place in a bible school in 1984. It’s a revealing insight as to what constitutes true volunteerism.

Charlie, the maintenance head of the school asked for male volunteers to assist with the carrying of heating oil to the basement; a job that would require about 30 minutes of a student’s time. There was only one student who responded, a young man by the name of Mark Kinem. He saw the need and volunteered to forego his lunch and gave 30 minutes of his time before heading off to work (Mark had to work to pay for his Bible school education). Later that evening, the chancellor of the school asked for volunteers to speak at a local church on Sunday. One young man quickly volunteered for this opportunity for upfront recognisable ministry. He was among those who excused themselves earlier in the day from the needed mundane task of carrying oil.

What makes this story meaningful is to fast forward 33 years and take note of the aforementioned young men. The young man who volunteered for weekend ministry did become a pastor for a few years but today is no longer in the ministry. What about Mark Kinem, the young man who volunteered his time? He’s been serving successfully as a prison chaplain for the past 20 years in one of the largest correctional facilities in New York State.

I feel to share the above in light of the challenge that Pastor Yang has been presenting to the church over the past few weeks. It’s wonderful to give and to volunteer, but what’s the ultimate motive; are we giving our best? Cain and Abel both gave offerings unto the Lord, but only one was accepted (Gen 4:4-5). I believe one of the distinguishing factors regarding the offerings given was their respective motive. In the bible school example, both men volunteered for specific tasks on that particular day. The motives were different as was their respective outcomes. It’s a sobering message!

As the hosting church for Kingdom Invasion, we’re placed in a unique position; it’s a dynamic we must discern and respond to. The presented high standard of volunteerism and serving actually serves as a gauge to the heart of Cornerstone. I liken it to a “process of time” moment, which was a defined day when the Lord required an offering from Cain and Abel. How will we respond? God looks at the heart and is able to determine the true motive for that which is offered to Him (1 Sam 16:7).

Let’s endeavour to do our part in helping Cornerstone gain an enduring reputation as being a “Volunteer Church”; a kingdom-minded congregation of kings and priests who will impact Singapore and beyond. Kingdom Invasion is now less than three weeks away. Can we see that this is so much more than just a conference? It is a process in time moment; what manner of offering and service will we present to the Lord?


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