By Navy Schrock
Why is it so important to serve others? Ruth Leman’s stories from her time working in Safe Families show us the motive behind pouring Christ’s love into our communities.
Ruth first learned about Safe Families for Children five years ago when the Fort Wayne chapter was launched at Wallen Baptist Church. With a background in Spanish due to growing up on the mission field, Ruth was seeking for a ministry opportunity after her retirement from a teaching career. Two and a half years ago, she trained to become a Family Coach with Safe Families. As a coach, Ruth spends time working with parents in need of help as well as supporting host families and the children in their care.
There are plenty of challenges to overcome when serving as a coach. Ruth shared one of the main difficulties of the ministry:
Ruth: Safe Families got very personal. Sometimes you’re in the homes where different families live, and you see the needs. I’ve seen how needy our city is, and it’s given me more of a passion. It’s made be braver to go into areas that I would never have gone to before. It’s made me want to help the vulnerable because I know that’s what Jesus would do.
The fact that Safe Families is so personal helped Ruth to see some of the greatest needs and find another reason for sharing Christ’s love:
Ruth: In many cases, families don’t have a place to live. The last girl I worked with is thirty years old with three children, and she’s homeless. By that age you expect to be on your feet. It is amazing what people are going through, and it teaches you so much about how blessed we are. God wants us to be out sharing what we have and giving what we have with our time and our energy. The greatest thing about Safe Families is that we are a faith-based organization. We can share Jesus all we want, and I love that so much!
Ruth has many beautiful stories to tell from her time spent showing Christ’s love to families:
Ruth: One thing that happened was seemingly small, but it was big to me. We were working to get furniture for a girl. She needed to furnish a whole empty apartment, and she had two little boys. She first had to get thirty dollars and prove that she had her apartment. After that, she could not find anyone to haul her furniture. I worked with three different gentlemen, and finally the third one said he was available to help. He brought a trailer to take furniture to the apartment. It was a very rainy week, and he had nothing to cover the furniture. I thought what if we get all this furniture for her and then it’s ruined on the way to the apartment? We got there, and there were still people trying to move out of the apartment as we were moving things in. We got the last piece in the door, and the rains came down. God knew we needed that little bit of time, and He gave it to us. That’s a small thing, but it was very neat to me. I drove away thanking God and praising Him that He had every little detail figured out.
Ruth: One of my very first coaching scenarios was a family with four children. Before we had more transportation volunteers, I picked them up every morning to take them to school. I had a captive audience with these four little ones. We would have to sit at one of the bus stops for twenty minutes because the other bus came earlier. I would take Bible story books and read to them. We’d also see the sunrise coming up. We talked about how God made that sun and I talked to them about Jesus and read them stories. It was the most precious time when they would ask questions. Then I would pray with them before they got on their bus. I’ll never forget that time with those four kids.
Through her different forms of ministry, how has God been working on Ruth’s heart? She shared a few valuable lessons that are important in any serving situation.
Be Flexible and Available:
Ruth: It would be easier to sleep in or not to have to go out in an evening. I’ve been out at 9:00 at night taking someone in who needed a hosting. You don’t know who you’re meeting. You don’t know how rough they’ll be. You don’t know who’s going to be with them. I think flexibility is a lesson I have learned.
Don’t Be Judgmental:
Ruth: I’ve learned a lot about not being judgmental. For those of us who’ve grown up in families and have been well taken care of and have worked hard, it’s so easy to look at people and think they just need a job. But when I think about it, I wasn’t abused, I wasn’t raped, my parents weren’t divorced, I wasn’t thrown out on the street, I didn’t get pregnant as a teenager, and I wasn’t told I was of no value. I wasn’t turned down at five jobs, and I don’t have significant health problems. I had money to go to college and get my education.
Our form that Safe Families applicants receive has boxes to check for various situations. Have you ever been depressed? Have you ever had mental problems? Have you ever been abused? Have you ever been raped? Have you ever had anxiety? And so on. Sometimes, girls check every single box! I know if just one of those boxes would be checked in my life, I’d have some hard problems. Yet I’ve never been through as much as they’ve been through. To have a non-judgmental attitude doesn’t mean I’ll let people walk over me. But I feel that God does the judging, we need to do the loving, and the Holy Spirit does the convicting.
What advice does Ruth offer from her time spent in the Safe Families ministry?
Ruth: It’s not for the faint-hearted. I know a lot of people who would not be willing to do what Safe Families is going to require. If you’re going to be involved, you must be flexible and willing to give of yourself and let your hands get dirty. You’ve got to be committed. Don’t even consider it if you don’t think you’re committed. Then put your whole heart into it.
Ruth has a very specific motive for volunteering to serve in Safe Families. Her perspective should be the mindset for any follower of Christ.
Ruth: I have a passion to share Jesus and do anything I can do to further His kingdom because I know it’s so imminent that He will soon be back.
There is no greater reason to serve than realizing that Christ will soon return. The most fulfilled life is found in dedicating ourselves to the Lord and showing His love to the people in our lives.