The first week in June is Volunteers Week! And it’s the perfect time to celebrate and cheer on all those who give their time and skills to help children and young people grow closer to God on SU holidays and missions. Jonny Williams tells us more about how and why he became a volunteer at Port St Mary Beach Mission on the Isle of Man.
My family weren’t churchgoers, but we lived in Port St Mary and the Beach Mission was always something fun to do in the summer. So Mum started taking me to it when I was about six. I enjoyed it so much that I kept going back.
I started getting more interested in the faith side of things as a teenager. I always thought there was a God, but I didn’t have any sort of personal encounter with him until I was 17 and volunteering on the Port St Mary Beach Mission team for the first time.
At one of the evening services, suddenly I felt that connection and everything clicking into place, and God saying to me ‘This is where you belong’! It was a very emotional moment; so was getting baptised in the sea the following March. Some of my friends from the mission came, and Mum and Nan watched from the promenade.
I always used to look up to the mission leaders and think ‘I want to be like you one day’, so when the opportunity came to volunteer, I signed up. I had no previous experience of working with children but I needn’t have worried because the other leaders were so helpful and supportive. Six years on, I’m now training up the next generation of volunteers!
I love the variety and getting stuck in, whether that’s helping to lead the morning Bible studies or afternoon’s games. And given that I’m not normally outgoing, I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed meeting new people – I’m much more confident than I thought I would be.
Growing in my own faith
I find that I am still learning about faith myself on the mission. For example, if I’m preparing to share a Bible passage with a group, I’ll really study it and look up any words I don’t understand. I want the children on the mission to get the most from it, but it means I grow in my understanding too.
One of the funniest moments was when us leaders had to dress up in costume and go and hide somewhere on the beach or around the promenade for the kids to come and find us. I was dressed up as Donald Trump, and a small boy came up to me and screamed in my face when he saw who it was! A few of the locals around gave me a second glance though – they’re all ‘oh that lot are back again’ and used to the madness of the Mission now.
'The Beach Mission is the first thing I put in my diary every year'
I’m at university now, but I hope I’ll keep coming back to the mission once I graduate. The Beach Mission is the first thing I put in my diary every year, and anything else has to work around it. It might be tricky once I get my first job, but it’s become part of my life and who I am, so even if it’s just for one week instead of two, I plan to be here!
Can we count you in?
We’re always on the lookout for new volunteers, so if you’d like to have a similar experience to Jonny, then we’re sure there’s a role for you.
Take a look at the full range of volunteering opportunities on offer today.
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