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 | By Mike Frieseman

John feels God’s presence in serving others

John Thelen began volunteering with St. Vincent de Paul in St. Johns in 1995, and is now the executive director. He oversees the work of the St. Vincent de Paul store as well as the client assistance office.

Prayer: When I began in this position six years ago, I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to this role, so I don’t hesitate to lean on the Lord to ask for guidance. At the start of each day, I ask God to help me “see the face of Christ” in those I meet. At the end of each day, I think about the people with whom I interacted and thank God for his presence in my day’s work.

Witness: We regularly experience “God moments” in our work at St. Vincent de Paul. We try to share those moments to give witness to God’s involvement and presence in our work. Some of the people we meet in our client assistance office may not belong to a church, and we encourage them to consider exploring a church, as their church family can be very supportive to them and can possibly relate to what they are experiencing.

Invitation: Our mission of serving others could not exist without our 100+ active St. Vincent de Paul store volunteers. We regularly invite others to be a part of our ministry and mission to serve others. You just have to have a kind heart with a desire to serve others. Many of our volunteers have invited others to be a part of what we do because of the satisfaction they receive knowing they are serving others.

Accompaniment: As families seek assistance from St. Vincent de Paul, we try to listen to what they are experiencing. We often see people asking for assistance for the first time. Life happens and the car breaks down, so they pay to fix the car and now they can’t pay rent or their Consumers Energy bill. That’s when they reach out to our St. Vincent’s. We try to ease their fears and help them through the process and encourage them to “pay it forward” when their situation improves.