I was introduced to volunteering as a young child. My father and mother are both heavily involved in ministry—my dad works for a church and my mom is the director of Joni and Friends Mississippi. My parents taught my siblings and me that we, even as children, could serve God’s Kingdom. They reminded us of 1 Timothy 4:12, “Do not let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”
My family works together as a unit. With eight children, it would almost be impossible for us to accomplish anything unless we worked together. My parents use this analogy to encourage us to work together: a twig alone is easily broken, but a group of twigs together is very difficult to break.
My parents involved us in God-centered ministries, having us serve in both children’s ministry and disability ministry. Serving alongside them from a young age helped me understand the importance of serving. It encouraged me to put myself aside to truly enter in the pain of someone else. It encouraged me to not be afraid of the unknown and the uncomfortable. It helped me realize the love of God works wonders in everyone. I learned to see the person created in God’s image before seeing their disability. I learned that the Gospel can be shown to people in many different ways: the Bible, to a kind word, to a gentle touch, a smile, and so many more ways.
Serving together as a family brought me closer to God and my family. Seeing God use each of our individual gifts in different ways to further His Kingdom is truly beautiful. From 8 to 25 years old, God can use each “child” in my family to serve. I have seen God work through my family in many ways, growing each of us. I have seen my youngest brother loving on people, no matter their abilities or disabilities, generating joy. I have seen my sisters give of themselves until they were utterly exhausted in body and spirit, yet still show the joy of Christ to those before them. I have seen my mother comfort those who are suffering. I have heard my father preach the Gospel to those feeling alone. I have seen my brothers lift a lady from a wheelchair into a float in the pool.
Serving as a family is a small picture of the Body of Christ. The family is one body, with many parts, working together to accomplish one goal: to expand the Kingdom of God. Each member has strengths and weaknesses which complement and challenge one another. Together, much can be accomplished.
Parents, teach your children to serve others at a young age. God has equipped all of His people with the ability to serve others. We are all part of the body of Christ, He will use us to accomplish His goals if we allow Him to, no matter our age. Little children bring joy to others like no one else. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.” -Matthew 19:14
Emmalyne Kwasny is a senior at Mississippi State University and serves as editor-in-chief of the university’s student-led newspaper, The Reflector. Emmalyne volunteers with Joni and Friends Mississippi and is currently interning with Joni and Friends Cause 4 Life.