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Fly out of your comfort zone

Being a volunteer with BMS World Mission can boost your faith in God and in yourself


You may not feel qualified to do the role you have been given. You may feel completely out of your depth at first. But volunteering with BMS could be an exciting adventure which makes you look at life and your relationship with God differently.

That has been the experience of Natasha Ridout. After studying French and linguistics at Southampton University, she was keen to spend time in a Francophone country and approached BMS. She is now in Haiti, working as Volunteer Co-ordinator at BMS partner the Haiti Hospital Appeal (HHA).

Natasha had no experience of working in healthcare until going to HHA in Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city. “I was sceptical about what I could do,” she says. “It was very much out of my comfort zone.”

The hospital is run by locals, but often has overseas guests offering their expertise or help in any way they can. Natasha’s job is to organise these visits, liaising with hospital staff and those planning to come. If volunteers want to see some of Haiti while they are there, Natasha will arrange that as part of their itinerary. She also manages the volunteers’ village, where guests stay during their visit.

When she began in August, Natasha admits it was daunting. She could communicate well in French with doctors and nurses, but most people in Haiti speak Creole, which she didn’t know. The welcome she received from hospital staff encouraged her.

“The staff here were wonderfully gracious and patient,” Natasha says. “They welcomed me with open arms and put up with my questions and my bothering them with weird things!”

Natasha has overcome her initial fear and just got on with it. An introvert, in the UK she would avoid phoning people, but regularly does so now. Her faith has been instrumental in increasing her confidence.

“A lot of the time I feel underequipped to do this role. But I really feel called to be working in this place at this time,” she says. “When I am faced with something I don’t particularly want to do, like going to talk to someone in Creole that I don’t really know, I know that I can rely on God’s strength.”

So far, Natasha’s proudest achievement is organising a group of 13 volunteers from Texas. None of them were medical professionals, so Natasha had to use her initiative to find them things to do in the hospital, as well as organising trips to a local fort and the beach. The visit was not without its problems, like toilets not flushing and the generator breaking down in the volunteers’ village, but each time she found solutions. “We managed to muddle through and everyone had a good time. It was a beneficial trip for both the volunteers and the hospital staff,” she says.

As a volunteer, Natasha has had to finance her trip. Her church back in Buckinghamshire, Broadway Baptist Church, held a fundraising event and has given her plenty of pastoral support too. When Natasha’s parents visited her in October, they brought many letters and presents from church members. “I’ve had a wonderful amount of prayer support, notes and cards,” she says. “It has been a huge blessing.”

Natasha is volunteering at HHA until July. She asks us to pray that, together with fellow workers Grace and Chris, she can make the volunteers’ village an even better place to stay than it is now. “We want it to be even more of a blessing for volunteers who visit,” she says. “Pray for the development of the village, that it will be a place where people get respite from difficult situations and come to encounter God.”

Fancy being a BMS volunteer yourself? Find out more about what’s involved on our short-term placements page.

This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission  



BMS World Mission, 19/02/2015
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