By Roger and Kathy Edmark, Brethren Volunteer Service Unit #319
Loving our neighbor usually involves people we run into everyday–the people next door, those in stores we frequent, those we encounter on the streets, our family, friends, and work associates. There are many opportunities to help people in their time of need, or maybe just with a smile. In our day-to-day lives these encounters make a diﬀerence and change the world around us. This is something we all can do each day.
But sometimes we get an unusual opportunity to meet new people in a place we have never lived before. An opportunity to help serve and love our neighbors in a little diﬀerent way you may never have thought to do.
My wife and I did just that in August of 2019. We were sent by Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) to Hiroshima, Japan to serve with World Friendship Center (WFC) as the volunteer directors. We were met by dedicated volunteers, English class students, and staﬀ who all became our friends.
For seven months, before the pandemic closed the borders of Japan to tourists, we also received people from all over the world who wanted to study peace at WFC. World leaders of many countries consider atomic bombs to be “strategic” weapons of mass destruction. Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors (hibakusha) know of the personal pain and devastation that atomic bombs indiscriminately wreaked havoc on everyone within the shadow of their destructive heat, hurricane force winds, and radiation. Barbara Reynolds, in 1965, established WFC as a place where people could come to hear the stories of the hibakusha and to work together for peace. The hibakusha’s cry is “No More Hiroshimas, No More Nagasakis!”
As you can imagine, this opportunity to live and serve in Hiroshima had a great impact on our lives. We are thankful that BVS works to connect people willing to serve “in a little diﬀerent way.” BVSers serve with organizations all over the world needing volunteers, side-by-side with amazing people and groups making a diﬀerence.
You may have a heart to do something a little diﬀerent too. If you decide to do something unusual or go someplace you have never been to, it may, like it did for us, change your life.
This article was originally featured in the summer issue of The Volunteer newsletter published by Brethren Volunteer Service. Learn more about this Core Ministry of the Church of the Brethren at www.brethren.org/bvs or support its ministry at www.brethren.org/givebvs.