Sanctity of Life

Five Unexpected Benefits of Volunteering

We know that volunteering to serve others –  at Jericho, we call it “being the hands and feet of Jesus” – is a blessing to those who receive your time, compassion and love.

But what about the volunteer? Recent research has determined that there are some surprising benefits to the person sharing his or her time with others.

Here are five unexpected benefits of volunteering:

Why I Jericho: Helen Sullivan

Ministry: Hopeline Pregnancy Resource Center

Time volunteering with Jericho since her retirement: 7+ years (even longer for Hopeline before it was part of the Partnership)

Over the years, Helen Sullivan has talked to many young pregnant women who were unsure whether they could, or even should, carry their baby to term. But one conversation sticks with her, because she knows without question that God was in the middle of it, directing her words …and transforming lives.

In that late-night phone call to the crisis hotline, this young woman told Helen that, although she was getting married soon, her parents would be “so disappointed and embarrassed” to learn she was pregnant. She said they were supportive parents, as well as church-goers with an authentic faith, but simply wouldn’t be ok with her being unmarried and pregnant.

Helen said she felt a nudge from God to ask her if she thought her loving parents would be “ok” with her having an abortion, or would they rather her honor God by choosing differently. It was a bold question, but it led to an honest conversation.  And, by the end of the phone call, a solid decision to have the baby.

THAT, Helen says, is why she continues to volunteer at Hopeline, a Jericho Partner Ministry – to be in a place that helps people work through a pivotal time in their life, with compassion and love.

Today, Helen, a 72-year-young retired nurse, volunteers once a week at Hopeline, administering pregnancy tests and teaching prepared childbirth classes.

“I love volunteering… it’s not like work because of the people who work here; they’re so kind and caring and fun,” she said. “I love being around people who love the Lord. We need each other.”

She is also committed to working with Hopeline’s clients.

“I love working with these first-time moms, helping to allay their fears… they come in so terrified,” she said. “For so many, life is so hard. I just respect them and try to encourage them. And they’re so grateful. But what I love the most, though, is that, at the end of every meeting, I ask them if they would like a Bible. 99% of the time they say yes. I know the Bible is overwhelming, so I encourage them to read one chapter a day. You can’t trust someone you don’t know…and by reading the Bible, they’ll get to know Jesus.”

Helen says it’s been a joy to serve at Hopeline as part of the Jericho Partnership.

“The people here are wonderful, inspirational,” she said. “The good that they do here speaks for itself. It’s putting Christ’s love into action. It’s awesome.”

A Lasting Impact

I was surprised to hear my name called from across the parking lot of the grocery store.  “Hey, Dr. Sampson!”  I recognized him right away as one of the troubled teens that we had worked with for years at the Samaritan Health Center.  Our nurse team had met with Eric frequently for months, to talk about his weight issues as well as his mood and outlook on life.  He would talk about the “dark thoughts” he would often have, and he would listen to music and draw pictures with dark themes.

Over time, the nurses talked to him about the Lord, telling him that life does not have to be full of darkness.  At first, he was resistant to the counsel that there is light in this world, and that God loves us.  It took months and months of meetings with him and talks with our nurses, but you could see that he was starting to change.  Eventually, at one of the sessions, Eric allowed our staff to pray for him. It seemed like a burden had been lifted from him, and he had grown a big smile.  He wasn’t focused on darkness anymore. That’s the power of the gospel at work.

Since his graduation from high school a few years ago, I had not seen Eric.  Then, all of a sudden, he was standing there in front of me in the parking lot, asking about Samaritan and telling me that he was doing well and was excited to have a job at the grocery store. He wanted me to greet all of the nurses who had befriended him and took the time to care for him.  And even though he is still working on his weight issues, he seemed so content and happy.

That short encounter was priceless; it was great to see the ongoing impact of our clinic on the youth of our community.

– Dr. Don Sampson, Clinical Director, Samaritan Health Center

Jess Costa: From Hopeline Client to Staff

When Jericho Partnership moved into its current building at 13 Rose St, it seemed obvious to invite Hopeline Pregnancy Resource Center to move in and minister to some of the neediest of our city without the worry of rent and facility management.  Jericho’s vision of transformation of a city most often happens one life at a time… as Jessica Costa’s story will attest.

It was but a moment in time, but it changed everything for Jessica Costa.

She was 23, a substance abuser, unmarried and pregnant, and the abortion was scheduled for the very next day. But the Holy Spirit was about to puncture her bubble of desperation and inject it with a new hope for the future.  In almost an instant, while sitting in a Hopeline counseling room at the behest of her mother (a Hopeline volunteer), Jessica knew she would have her baby and live an entirely different sort of life from that moment on.

“I really felt like the Holy Spirit was there, and He said ‘you’re going to keep the baby, or you’re going to be dead,” she said.   So, she walked out of the office – the ultrasound of her unborn baby still fresh in her mind – and before even driving out of the parking lot, canceled the abortion.

Jessica was right; her life would indeed change. Today, more than five years later, things have come full circle, because – after volunteering at Hopeline for years – she’s just joined the staff of the Pregnancy Resource Center, one of Jericho’s Partner Ministries. And even more wonderful, Jessica’s son Mark is now five years old, heading to kindergarten this coming fall, and is the big brother of Gabriel, who was born five months ago to Jessica and her husband, Christiano.

“Hopeline literally saved my life, and there is nothing exaggerated about that,” said Jessica, now the agency’s part-time Stewardship Assistant. “If it weren’t here, my life wouldn’t be anything near where it is today. I would do anything for Hopeline and I want other women to have the same experience as I did.”

After her decision to keep her baby, Jessica went to Hopeline weekly for counseling and for help getting connected to resources she’d need, since the baby’s father was “not on board” with her new path. Through it all, her faith grew.

“There’s been a huge transformation in my relationship with God,” Jessica said. “Since that day, even though there were still many struggles and I had a lot of healing to do, my life is all about God. Even though it’s been only five or so years, it seems like it’s been 20 for all He’s done.”

Jessica is currently being trained to facilitate the “Path to Sexual Healing” course that Hopeline uses in its counseling, and is eager to begin working with clients who are on their own journey.

“Hopeline is family to me now,” she said. “I want to give back because it’s THAT important.”