“Something can be done about it!”
To bring the good news of the Volunteer Ministers to all people, the Church of Scientology has sponsored an international tour to introduce ministerial services offered free to all. Left: the Mayor of Sunderland opens the Volunteer Ministers’ travelling services and training tent.
When Winnie passed away, her family wrote to the volunteer group who had cared for her — the Scientology Volunteer Ministers — in gratitude: “On behalf of Auntie Winnie, thank you for all your kindness to her. You must have enriched her life so very much. We shall think of you all fondly and hope that life’s kind to you all.”
Enriching people’s lives encapsulates the purpose of the Volunteer Ministers, a programme initiated in an apartheid South Africa in 1976 by Scientology founder
Now exceeding a network of 15,000 volunteers throughout the world, the Volunteer Ministers are achieving that purpose through a broad variety of skills in which they are trained, and an underlying strong sense of human compassion.
Throughout the U.K., families in bereavement have received succour from the Volunteer Ministers, who have spent time with them and helped them through their trauma. In the same way, they have helped people whose partners have left them or who have been embroiled in tough relationships — as in the case of one young lady who ended up in hospital after a domestic fight. A Volunteer Minister stayed with the woman and supported her until she could manage on her own.
There are many people with health problems who, in addition to medical care, have gained relief from the work of the Volunteer Ministers in their visits to hospitals or homes.
Typical is the man who had a heart condition who was in the hospital; Volunteer Ministers, called in by the family, visited him, helped him with his finances, handled his concerns about his rented room with his landlord, seeing to all his needs and wants.
One of the most basic helping skills Volunteer Ministers are trained to use is the Scientology “assist”. Assists were developed by Scientology founder
These skills have especially given Volunteer Ministers a unique place in relief work for natural and man-made disasters. While they help in all aspects of such efforts, they focus on assists, particularly with relief and rescue workers, helping them to perform their vital duties.
Volunteer Ministers from all nations have been found at the scenes of many disasters, including earthquakes from Mexico to Turkey, the war zone in Chechnya, the hospitals of Rwanda, the refugee camps of Kosovo, and at countless other locales; hundreds of Volunteer Ministers participated in all aspects of relief work at “Ground Zero” in New York after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States.
As New York City Police Chief Joseph Esposito wrote to the Church of Scientology in New York in December 2001, “The organization, the caring, and the dedication of your Volunteer Ministers were exceptional, and very much appreciated, and will long be remembered by those who received their help. I cannot thank the Volunteer Ministers enough.”
Since September 11, demand for information about the Volunteer Ministers soared internationally.
In response, the Church established a Volunteer Minister website, www.volunteerministers.org, and is sponsoring an international programme to train thousands more Volunteer Ministers and travelling exhibits to inform others of the programme, as was done recently in London.
“The purpose is not only to help connect those in need with the Volunteer Ministers, but to continually expand the volunteer corps,” said Paul Dolan of the Church of Scientology in London.
The Volunteer Ministers Corps is continually growing, enabling teams to respond even more quickly to disasters large and small.
The tragic earthquake in India last year stirred the U.K. Volunteer Ministers into action further from home with one of them travelling there to alleviate some of the suffering with assists and counselling, as well as helping with basic human needs — food, clothing and shelter. The other Volunteer Ministers supported him both financially and in looking after his home while he was there.
When Volcano Nyiragongo erupted in Congo in January 2002, sending 200-foot-wide rivers of lava flowing through the city of Goma, 150 Volunteer Ministers from Congo and neighbouring Rwanda mobilized to provide help to the half-million displaced residents.
In southeastern Australia, where bush fires raged out of control for weeks at Christmas last year, Volunteer Ministers came to the aid of firemen who had to withstand the scorching temperatures of the blaze, on their feet for hours on end and with many sleepless nights in the effort to protect homes, wildlife and vegetation in the region. Volunteer Ministers gave more than 700 assists to firemen and also helped other volunteer workers supply water, food and other essentials.
Closer to home, Volunteer Ministers act in a regular capacity at such locales as health fairs and marathons. Many hundreds of athletes have gone on to complete the marathon after the relief they gained from the assists on the way.
“I was really struggling in the Marathon for about fourteen miles... I stopped for an assist,” said one runner from this year’s London Marathon. “I didn’t know what one really was but decided to take the gamble of giving up precious time, because I was so sore. I never stopped once in the last miles and actually started enjoying the race. I more than made up the lost time. Two weeks later I even feel the effects. I have felt brilliant, even setting a personal best in the Waterloo 15 K. I felt so good! Not bad for somebody who could not walk nine months ago because of a broken right femur.”
The Volunteer Ministers have also helped the local Amnesty International Group with their outreach to public in the High Street and with their fund-raising show. They are staunch supporters of the drug rehabilitation group Narconon U.K. and have assisted many times with addicts in trouble.
In the autumn they put on a harvest festival, collecting many donations of fresh, canned and dried produce including nuts, seeds and lentils so enjoyed by the infirm. These were presented, as usual each year, to St. Catherine’s Hospice.
“Once again, St. Catherine’s Hospice is most grateful to you all for your wonderful harvest festival gifts.... May I take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support, which without the generosity of the local community, would find it difficult to meet the daily running costs.”
Similar results are achieved at points all over the world, in all manner of circumstances great and small: from helping children learn how to study, resolving problems with children and teenagers, getting friends or associates out of drug or alcohol dependency, and putting the criminally-inclined back on the road of self-respect and honesty, to resolving disputes at work and at home and helping associates to organize their lives.
“When Church of Scientology Volunteer Minister Lorraine Baritz used her spiritual training to revive a 13-year-old motorcycle accident victim from a coma in a prestigious Boston hospital recently, it was considered a miracle,” reported a newspaper in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States late last autumn. “When she revived a baby from a coma a few days later, it was obvious that there is a workable way to save many lives,” the article continued.
No matter the scope of the task performed, it is knowing that they have helped, and made a difference, that drives the Scientology Volunteer Ministers. The programme is open to people of all creeds. If you would like to find out how you can learn the simple but effective methods that are a Volunteer Minister’s hallmark, contact 08000 HELP 4U (08000 4357 48) or write to: Volunteer Minister Programme, Church of Scientology, Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 4JY.