From GrowTH guest to GrowTH Church Coordinator
Four years ago Danny was a guest in GrowTH night shelter. Today he volunteers and is a Church Coordinator. We hear something of his journey and faith through all of this.
“Those special 28 days”
Danny came in to the shelter with nothing. “I lost everything … I was at the end of the road … worthless, a nobody. I saw no way out,” he told us. “I thought it [GrowTH] would be a place to put my head down and carry on the next day,” he added. “I didn’t know that God had a plan”. For Danny, what was initially seen as only despair and hopelessness began to reveal itself as something quite different. This was to be the place where Danny would meet with God ‘in his fullness’. With issues from his past, God began to work in and through Danny’s situation. “He stripped me of everything … The very thing you think you need is the very most thing you have to deny and God said, ‘No, you need me, forget about money, and people’ … He took everything away from me and I know that there is no one else in the world that can help me. I will never forget those 28 days in the shelter … [they] changed my life because I found Christ.”
Through the support and love of the The Good Shepherd Mission, Danny began his journey of faith. “I found Christ and really wanted to know who Jesus was and get close to the people in the church.” Two years later, Danny was asked if he would like to volunteer with GrowTH and then in the 2017-18 shelter season, Danny coordinated for the first time.
Why did you decide to volunteer and why have you continued?
“Ryan asked. I said I would love to do it … I like talking and encouraging people … I can tell people my experience as I was here once and tell them ‘this is what I felt and I came on the other side and have a place now and you can do it too’. Volunteering all these years has had direct impact on my life and helped me grow, it makes my feel whole, there is a peace in me that I am where I’m supposed to be. You are helping the needy, helping the lost … that’s one of the reasons why Jesus Christ came.”
How was your experience coordinating for the first time and what has God taught you?
“At first a bit daunting … the person who trained me was not there with me at the time so it was all hands on deck for me. I was very nervous on the first night … you have to address the guests and tell them the house rules … I was thinking, ‘what would I say?’! They could tell I was nervous; they could tell I was a rookie but I got through the night and had a lot of help from the other volunteers.
“Coordinating has taught me patience and compassion; the difference between compassion, sympathy and empathy; being firm and fair and most of all about love and duty. Being patient – that was one of the hardest things – you pray and you have to wait for an answer … God will walk you through the process to build me … you grow in that way.”
What would you say to encourage something who is thinking about Volunteering?
“It’s the most beautiful thing ever. I will always encourage that. There is nothing like it. You are a foot soldier for Christ and carry a banner. You are not just helping other people but building yourself through Christ to help other people. I think that is what he asks us to do – love your neighbour as yourself.”