“Emotionally my soul was adrift. Oh, I studied the Bible, but I remained intellectual in my faith. Because of the pain that has surrounded me since childhood, I was resistant to experiencing the joys of living out my faith. Instead of reaching out, my practice was to pull in. Inner emotional pain was killing my soul.” So begins Karen Taylor’s story of volunteering for over ten years at Jubilee REACH, after a long career as a public school teacher.
“I had a deep need within my soul to believe in the goodness of people and be surrounded by good people,” Karen confessed. Three dear friends encouraged Karen to volunteer at Jubilee REACH. “You just need to go there, walk through those doors,” they assured her, “you will feel something there.”
Karen continued, “Through the encouragement from friends, I found a place of solace. I had never experienced God’s presence as much as I did the day I finally walked through the doors of Jubilee REACH, over ten years ago. I felt a feeling of warmth, of welcome, a hug and a tug in my heart that I had been longing for so many years. I can’t articulate it. I just felt loved. The hunger in my soul was being nourished,” Karen beamed.
“Only by serving as a volunteer ESL teacher, did I realize just how much love I had to give. My life of hidden pain and emptiness was now full of joy and hope for good. I found through loving people from all over the world by teaching English, that we are all the same, no matter where we come from. We all want to love and to be loved.”
When cancer afflicted Karen three years ago, she said “Jubilee REACH became my shining light for peace, comfort and hope; not just for me, but for so many others. The notes and flowers I received showed me I had a new family full of love and encouragement. As soon as the doctors allowed, I asked my husband, Bill, to take me to Jubilee REACH, simply to fill my heart, nourish my soul and remind that I have hope and a place to come back to.”
Karen then quipped, “I appreciate how fortunate I have been to be able to visit the world through the hearts of so many people I have loved, and been loved by, at Jubilee REACH, and I never had to get on an airplane!”
Two weeks ago, Karen learned that her cancer has returned and metastasized to the bone. So once again, she must step back from volunteering. Even as her physical strength has weakened, her spirit lights up as she shares, “just coming to Jubilee REACH lifts my spirit, makes me smile, gives me hope and the strength to get up those stairs one more time. I also knew I would get a big bear hug and be loved by people I love.” She then reached into her purse, pulled out a bottle of pills and confessed, “coming here also gives me courage to take these, because they don’t make me feel good.”
Then with a warm smile, Karen concluded, “the joy I have experienced through volunteering with my Jubilee REACH family has been salve for my soul.” Oh Karen, your Jubilee REACH family is grateful for your ten years of loving service. You have been salve for our souls!
We hold you and Bill in our prayers for hope, healing and knowing you always have a place to come back to!