Finding Joy in serving the Lord

Ervin TanFeature

Serving in the hospitality ministry together (left to right): Charles, Anne, Rodney and Winston. Photo: Church of the Holy Spirit

Finding Joy in serving the Lord

“Enter to worship. Depart to serve.” Etched across the parish entrance, this motto has inspired many parishioners of the Church of the Holy Spirit. Volunteer writer Philip Ho shares the story of Rodney Carlose who, against all odds, obeyed the call to join the ministry of hospitality, and continues to be inspired by his fellow ministers.

As with most hospitality ministries, the members of this ministry in the Church of the Holy Spirit ensure that parishioners can comfortably worship in Church. Their duties include directing traffic within Church grounds and ushering worshippers into the church. In 2019, the ministry faced a shortage of manpower, and began appealing to parishioners to serve.

Overcoming the fear of serving

Being an introvert and used to being served rather than serving others, Rodney Carlose never thought of joining a ministry, much less one that required him to interact with people.

He said, “I thought I was an unlikely candidate for the hospitality ministry. Having successfully evaded its members for a few weeks, I was unexpectedly singled out from the crowd of worshippers after Mass one day.”

Winston Wong, the chairman of the hospitality ministry then, had felt prompted to approach Rodney. Surprisingly, Rodney did not simply decline and walk away as he would usually do, but actually stopped to listen.

Rodney said, “I began to recall the times I witnessed their good work, like how they lovingly treated my elderly mother when she came for Mass. It inspired me to share this same love with others. Trusting in God, I decided to overcome my reclusive nature and say yes to Him.”

Learning from a God-centred community

Unsure of what to expect, Rodney was relieved that the other ministry members were warm and friendly. He found himself in a community that was truly focused on serving God. For example, he learnt that Winston had wanted to do more than attend Sunday Mass once a week out of obligation.

Recalling why he himself first joined the ministry, Winston said, “Something felt missing. I wanted to be more active in church, and discerned that serving would draw me nearer to God.”

Rodney began serving at the Sunday 5pm Mass, with Anne Skading as the team leader. Under her guidance, he saw how service for others, and for God, was vital in the community. She led her team to show love to parishioners who came to worship God.

Anne emphasised, “We do not get to ‘un-volunteer’ at a whim because we aren’t volunteers! We are serving God and the parishioners through the church. This attitude has meant that whenever any team is short of manpower for a particular Mass, even at the eleventh hour, brothers and sisters from the other teams will always step up.”

Fellow minister Charles Garnell, agreed, “We are answering the call of God through our teammates.” Added Winston, “In this ministry, we serve God before anything else. Everyone is here to help one another, no ‘airs’ about it.”

Growing through challenges

Serving as a hospitality minister is not without its challenges, and in fact may seem to be the ministry of last resort for those looking to serve. Rodney would counsel parishioners against speeding on church grounds or parking indiscriminately. With the strict safe management measures in place, he also mediated between unhappy parishioners while keeping up the morale and motivation of his teammates.

Ministers have been verbally abused, and one of them even suffered injury when a car ran over his toes! These isolated incidents helped them grow in faith, humility and patience. Rodney said, “Personally, I am filled with joy when I see positive changes in behaviour, resulting in a better, more conducive place for worship. Before Mass, it can get quite hectic for us as no one wants to be late. Then, once Mass begins, I get a sense of fulfilment and peace when I witness parishioners’ joy in worshipping the Lord.”

A life of love and service

By God’s grace and by observing the example of love and service from fellow ministers, the two years Rodney spent serving transformed him into a more confident and approachable person. When Anne recently stepped down from her leadership role, she passed the baton to Rodney.

Humbled, Rodney shared, “Just as Anne was inspired by her team leader, the late Bertie Danker who lived his life modelled on Christ, I have been inspired by Anne. ‘A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another even as I have loved you’ – Christ’s teaching in John 13:34 guided her then and is now also my guiding light as I lead the team.”

Thanks to Anne and Bertie whom Rodney regards as his mentors, Rodney now understands why his late father had put God first and surrendered everything to Him, and has the same approach to life today.

Rodney concluded, “In giving myself to Him, God has blessed me in return. If your fears or apprehension are holding you back from serving God and His Church, He will give you the grace to overcome them. God can use you as His instrument and help you to grow. The first step is just saying ‘yes’ – I’m glad I did!”

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