What drew you to A Rocha?
Curiosity. My daughter had given me a copy of the book about A Rocha Canada, Planted, and I was intrigued by the holistic picture of Christian living that it presented, one which attempts to foster harmony not only with other people but also with the natural world.
I wondered to what extent A Rocha was free of the doctrinaire know-it-alls and tribalism that sometimes plague the church. And was A Rocha discovering healthy ways of engaging with the secular world, rather than acting in parallel to it or getting co-opted? These types of musings prompted me to want to learn more about this unusual organization.
What is your background and where did you think your gifts and experience would (or would not) fit?
During my intake interview to become an ongoing volunteer, I described my curiosity about A Rocha and confessed that I had no background in conservation or agriculture. I saw myself simply as providing unskilled labour wherever it might be needed.
I mentioned that my only expertise was as a bureaucrat sitting in an office. Well, did my interviewer’s eyes ever light up when I said that. It seems that A Rocha was getting plenty of inquiries from people who wanted to get their hands dirty, but rather fewer from those seeking to help with clean-hands tasks in administration, hospitality, and the host of behind the scenes stuff that helps any organization run smoothly.
What sorts of things have you done as a regular volunteer?
I started tucked away in the Brooksdale administration office doing monthly meal tallies, helping document procedures, assembling some information for annual reports and so on – all the things that every little boy dreams of doing some day. Then a long term volunteer in the gift shop moved away and the staff decided to make a valiant attempt at turning me into a merchandiser to replace her. I don’t think sales will skyrocket during my shifts, but I like the broader exposure this role gives me to the wide variety of people who are touched in some way by A Rocha’s activities and mere presence in the community.
Why do you keep coming back?
The pragmatic answer is that it gets increasingly difficult to back away from helping people I enjoy being with, especially when they’re putting so much heart and soul into tasks while working with a shoestring budget. More fundamentally, I’m still curious. Although the organization faces plenty of challenges, something vital and important seems to be happening through A Rocha. This, I suspect, is typical of how the grace of the Holy Spirit gets manifested. I stay in the hope that I might have the eyes to discern and participate in this grace.