Christian fellowship is the linking of lives with one another as the Body of Christ. It goes beyond like-minded people pursuing common interests, although that is definitely an aspect of Officers’ Christian Fellowship’s 350-plus small groups and its conference center ministry.
OCF has provided transitory military Christians with two static places—Spring Canyon in Colorado and White Sulphur Springs in Pennsylvania—for abundant opportunities of Christ-centered fellowship, programs and fun. The ideal end result: being equipped to reach others for Christ throughout the military society—and form lifetime friendships.
Keeping OCF’s spiritual refuges shipshape and running smoothly is a titanic task. The moving pieces and parts of year-round ministry demand more time than the directors and staff members possess. Enter a fellowship subset from decades of service and friendship at OCF’s conference centers: the spring and fall work period volunteers who help make ongoing ministry possible.
Here are some insights from a few of the entire volunteer army participating in Christ’s kingdom work through OCF: Max and Sharon Chastain, and Gene Powell (Spring Canyon); Steve Domoslay, Don Moore, Rob and Anne Stewart, and Dick and Carol Zahn (White Sulphur Springs):
Why do you do volunteer?
Powell: There’s a mystery that takes place between a guest and God at the conference center. You don’t always know the outcome, the miracles that have taken place. The SC staff has come alongside me more than I have come along them, during my divorce season. I just get teared up thinking about it because I don’t know if I would have survived.
Domoslay: Having retired from the Navy, there are limited ways to pay back OCF for all it meant to us during our active duty years, but volunteering is one of the few ways we can.
Moore: I enjoy serving, feeling like I’m doing something of value. I also feel God’s (and the WSS staff’’s) pleasure. The camaraderie is fabulous.
Stewarts: OCF and WSS perform a wonderful service to the military in growing and developing Christian leaders. Putting time and resources to support that mission is more than worthwhile.
Zahns: We knew what a wonderful place it was. After seeing Command magazine articles about volunteering, we decided to help in furthering Christ’s kingdom among the military.
What are some of the things you’ve done as a volunteer?
Chastains: Facilities construction, repair and maintenance work (Max); lots of cleaning, painting, sewing curtains, etc., (Sharon).
Powell: Fiscal plan, outdoor stuff. Change out broken things. Work on old Fort Shine. Ambassador at the summer weeks. My claim to fame now may be washing dishes.
Moore: Set furniture in Heritage House; kitchen, dining room and facility clean up; installations; repairs; rake leaves; make beds, etc.
Zahns: Repair roofs, painting, build horse fences (Dick); reupholster furniture, sewing and embroidering projects (Carol).
How has the fellowship with other volunteers impacted your life?
Chastains: We have developed life-long friendships through the fellowship of working at SC. And we have a tremendous respect and appreciation for the staff and the sacrifices they make daily.
Powell: These brothers and sisters have helped me look at my life, to see the shortcomings I needed to work on. We all learn from each other.
Domoslay: This group has become a second family. We have a reunion with them every six months, in many ways becoming closer than blood relatives—the way it should be among believers. This group has given me more than anything I could return to them.
Moore: The volunteers and staff members are good friends, fun to be and work with, and a special family to me. Some of the best days of my life.
What is one of your most favorite/fondest moments?
Max Chastain: One fall the SC staff had drained the ponds to rebuild their overflow towers and refill them before winter. Gail Friemark and I were the only ones able to be there—and Gail came with a broken arm in a cast. In the midst of our discussion and prayer about how to accomplish what needed to be done, three German carpenters drove into camp to ask if there was any work they could do for room and board. They completely rebuilt the overflow towers—with a little bit of help from us. Truly angels in disguise!
Domoslay: Knowing the volunteers and becoming closer and closer with all those involved. This aspect has enriched us continually and we find ourselves, once we leave, already looking forward to our next return.
Stewarts: There have been many great moments and experiences—fun to work with the other volunteers and staff members. We enjoy coming back and seeing the projects we have worked on over the years.
Zahns: Sitting in the lobby and hearing the stories. Lots of laughter. Rocking on the Harrison House porch. The dedication of Heritage House. Just being there.
What would you say to others about the Christian fellowship opportunities through conference center ministry?
Chastains: There is nothing to compare to the fellowship we’ve experienced at SC. Anytime we’re at SC with staff and other volunteers, we often feel it’s a little foretaste of what heaven will be!
Domoslay: Volunteering is a perfect way that we older OCF members can contribute and remain an active part of OCF. We have much more time now to do this and I am glad it’s available.
Moore: The Christian climate, fellowship, and eternal “pay” are all fabulous. There is something that everyone and anyone can do and needs to be done.
Stewarts: Volunteering is a rewarding investment of time that directly impacts the OCF mission and the military. You should try it—you will appreciate it.
Zahns: Just do it. Consider what the Good Samaritan did in the Luke 25 parable: he went…bound up…took care. This is what “love your neighbor” looks like, and it involves practical action. Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.” So go and do. You won’t be sorry!
Types of projects: When you volunteer at an OCF conference center, there are any number of possible projects, including: Roof inspection and repair; lots of deep cleaning; decorating, painting, repainting, touch-up painting—more painting; landscaping projects; sewing repairs such as linens, bedspreads, curtains; building/repairing bridges; maintaining hiking trails; inspecting decks/repairs; plumbing repairs/installations; and much more…