Service Corps pushed me out of my shell and inspired me to serve others

Service Corps pushed me out of my shell and inspired me to serve others

When I first learned about the opportunity for Service Corps, I was not sure I wanted to participate in such an intimate social experience. Service Corps is a program that sends teams to areas of need around the world where The Salvation Army is currently serving. The team assists local officers and leaders with ministry, maintenance and community outreach.

I am an introvert with the desires of an extrovert. I enjoy spending time alone, playing the guitar, listening to music and socializing with a particular group. Embarking on a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska, with Service Corps would mean meeting new people and forcing me into social situations I work hard to avoid. After a few conversations with my parents and grandfather, I decided to take a chance and try something new. After all, it was only two weeks, and I used to live in Alaska and loved it there.

After my experience with the Fairbanks Service Corps, I know that any reason to participate in Service Corps is a good one. The reasons do not matter, whether you went to grow your faith, meet new people or even enjoy the cool weather (when I left San Antonio, Texas, it was 108 degrees); God will use you in ways you would never expect and show you that the rewards are worth so much more than a change in weather.

Service Corps pushed me out of my shell and inspired me to serve others

Photo courtesy Youth Department.

Over 10 days, I gained so many things, but the first that comes to mind are the friendships I made. When you work together as a team all day, you hope you will all get along. In this case, I got along with my team almost to a fault. My fears of each of us being so different quickly faded. Whether sorting clothes at the thrift store or canoeing and riding ATVs together, it was always fun.

Making friends was the best and worst part of this trip. It was great to grow closer with each of my teammates, and I think that we all helped each other in different ways; however, soon after becoming friends, I began to dread the countdown until we would have to say our goodbyes.

There were many ministry opportunities ranging from day camp, Sunday morning worship, playing in the worship band, delivering food boxes and sorting clothes at the thrift store. We were able to provide a day camp for local children.

It was shocking to see how little some children knew about the gospel—some to the extent of not knowing who Jesus was. It was great to share the good news that I have been fortunate enough to have learned from a young age. I had parents and grandparents who taught me how meaningful and life-changing a relationship with Jesus is. I was excited to share this with others.

Service Corps pushed me out of my shell and inspired me to serve others

Photo courtesy Youth Department.

It made me realize just how different people’s lives are from mine. It was an excellent opportunity to help the less fortunate and try to put myself in their shoes. Little things I take for granted, like the clothes on my back or the food in my stomach, all had new meanings. Seeing the joy on a person’s face when we brought them a food box or gave them clothing and a toy at our carnival made me appreciate all I have. I finally understood why my mother always encourages me to volunteer. Serving others does make a difference.

My only complaint about this trip is that it was too short. I wish we had more time to grow as a team and help the community. Fairbanks loves The Salvation Army, and our team enjoyed sharing that excitement.

Most of all, I think this trip changed fear into courage. I have never been the most social person, and being in Service Corps pushed me to come out of my shell. All my nerves and doubts about myself going into the trip were erased as soon as we landed in Fairbanks. God took care of all the fear, and in the end, all I can say is: Here I am; send me.

Do Good:

  • You’ve probably seen the red kettles and thrift stores, and while we’re rightfully well known for both…The Salvation Army is so much more than red kettles and thrift stores. So who are we? What do we do? Where? Right this way for Salvation Army 101.
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Caleb Griffin

Caleb Griffin was a member of the 2022 Fairbanks (Alaska) Service Corps Team. He is based in San Antonio, Texas.