Spreading the message about our Creator who saved us isn’t limited to giving lectures or handing out literature, or even saying anything at all. Often it simply means being willing to use whatever God has put into your hands to honor Him.
Every church and Christian ministry needs help with a variety of tasks that are critical to spreading the gospel, and that doesn’t just mean teaching. Steve and Ruth Carter understand this well.
Steve was a general surgeon and Ruth a nurse, but they both had an interest in serving the Lord regularly as volunteers. With their skills, they could have spent their lives accumulating a big bank account, a big house, and fancy cars. But in college Steve committed his life to Christ and his surgeon’s hands became tools for the Lord to use in any way He saw fit.
The daughter of missionaries, Ruth grew up in a home where service was a way of life. Once she married, the Carters readily volunteered to work in missions overseas. In eleven trips, averaging six weeks each, they served in hospitals and on building teams in Africa, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. While they were at it, their four sons also learned by example the value of serving in Christ’s name.
Instead of a scalpel, Steve found a rake in his hands.
After thirty years Steve retired from surgical practice, but they didn’t want to end their lifetime pattern—and joy—of volunteering. In 2008, he and Ruth decided to go to the Creation Museum near Cincinnati and volunteer a few days. Instead of a scalpel, Steve found a rake in his hands. For three days, he and Ruth spread mulch in the museum’s acres of flower gardens. “It was hot. It was dirty. But that didn’t matter,” Steve says. “It was rewarding, knowing that we were serving a gospel ministry that reaches hundreds of thousands each year. We saw that the volunteer department at the museum needed staff, and we went back to Pennsylvania wondering whether the Lord wanted us to become even more involved.”
A year later, the Carters returned to discuss taking a greater role in the ministry. To their surprise, they were asked to coordinate the volunteer program, as “volunteers over volunteers.” Now hundreds of volunteers of all ages serve under their guidance every year. Their role has allowed them to meet many other wonderful people with a heart to honor Christ. As is often true of volunteers, they feel more blessed than the ones they meant to bless.
The volunteers who find their experience most rewarding are those who come with no strings attached, willing to do whatever is needed, regardless of their perceived personal skills—like a surgeon and nurse spreading mulch. Such volunteers often return home convinced they’ve received more from the experience than they gave.
Steve is amazed at how God has blessed his service. “I look at my hands and marvel at all I would have missed if I had made life all about being a surgeon and all about me. This new chapter in our lives is a perfect fit for our skills, as long as we have health and strength to continue. We feel blessed to be volunteers, and I couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling way to place my life—and hands—in His hands.”