Volunteers are a vital part of the ministry of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children (OBHC). Across four campuses, multiple volunteers from all over the state, keep the wheels turning year after year. These servants sign up for a number of jobs including housekeeping, maintenance, event planning, teaching, mentoring and many other tasks behind the scenes. The one common denominator amongst the volunteers at OBHC? They like anonymity. In fact, most don’t even want OBHC to tell their story in fear people will look at them as some sort of hero. Reluctantly, they allow us to share their impact for one reason only, so that when people do look at them, they see Jesus. That is the case for Oklahoma City volunteer, Emil Jantz.
Years ago, Emil and his wife began seeking the Lord’s plan for their lives after retirement. Emil did not want these years to be filled with sitting around doing nothing. So he began praying about volunteering. He asked the Lord if he would provide an opportunity to be around children, which he had always loved. Through a family connection, Emil learned about OBHC and was very interested. He didn’t wait to tour the facility or for an invitation to help, but instead just drove to the campus and walked inside. “They asked me what I wanted to do and I said I would love to read to kids. The man talking with me said ‘Well, we need someone to mow,’ so I said yes!” Emil admits that’s not how he envisioned serving. After all, he wanted to work directly with children, reading or mentoring, even rocking babies, but not mowing.
However, through obedience, Emil learned so much more. “God has taught me so much by serving. Volunteering is not always what I want to do, but it’s what is needed. So I serve out of obedience and view each opportunity as a blessing. I just go where God says and it has changed my life.” Fifteen years later, Emil’s role has evolved from grounds-keeping to event planning, maintenance, answering phones, and even hanging out with kids. He and his wife now serve together at OBHC for the Miles4Smiles Bike Ride in Oklahoma City.
One of Emil’s favorite parts of serving is becoming part of a new community. “I love being able to accomplish a task with other men who want to serve. I’ve met some of the greatest people while serving at the OKC campus. These are lifelong friends. We do life together and it’s a really great blessing that has come to me while trying to bless others.” Just by being available around campus, Emil has opportunities to build others up in everyday life. “I love talking with houseparents and staff. I always try to encourage them no matter the situation. I say ‘You may never see these kids again after they leave here. They may be adults before they can even understand or tell you what you did in their life! Just keep doing what you’re doing because they need help.’”
Emil knows God has called him to live as a sacrifice and serve others in need. “It’s not about the thanks, but about obeying what God called me to do.” His work with OBHC never feels like a task because of the reward he gets from giving back. “Seeing so many people come together for a community event or helping the staff with tasks they don’t have time to accomplish, it’s an incredible feeling that results in such fulfillment for me. I always get more than I give and walk away feeling like I’m the one getting the blessing every time.”
Emil‘s volunteer experience has inspired him to continue giving back to the community any way he can. He wants others to be inspired to volunteer, too. “Just start somewhere. Maybe your church, maybe your neighborhood, anywhere is great. Just do something! There can never be too many volunteers. My friends ask me why I volunteer. My ‘why’ is because I’ve been given so much. I just want to make a difference in someone else’s life. Volunteering means doing things bigger than yourself and that’s what I love.”
To learn more about volunteering at any of OBHC’s campuses or Hope Pregnancy Centers, visit here.
By Lisa Leininger, Freelance Writer