Volunteer Perseveres in Leadership Despite Challenges

April 6, 2020 • United States
Kathy Aiken volunteers in a leadership role in Talladega County, Alabama.
Kathy Aiken volunteers in a leadership role in Talladega County, Alabama.

Operation Christmas Child year-round volunteer Kathy Aiken overcomes obstacles to serve as an area coordinator in East Alabama.

After spending 24 years as a special agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kathy Aiken found a different calling. Today, Kathy serves as an area coordinator for the Operation Christmas Child East Alabama Area Team. Based out of Talladega County, Kathy leads a team of volunteers that promote shoebox packing year-round.

“I feel like I’m a conduit between the ministry and the volunteers—sort of pulling it all together,” Kathy said.

“My biggest joy is seeing people get excited when they’re new [volunteers]—to see them want to plug in and learn and do what God’s called them to do.”

Persevering After a Car Accident

Through prayer, Kathy felt God confirmed her initial decision to take on this year-round position. That assurance was tested, though, when she was in a serious car accident in July 2016, just over a month after she began her new role. Another car veered into Kathy’s lane and hit her head on.

You Can Volunteer Year-Round

The next moments seemed to take place in slow motion. As something sharp hit her eye, she thought, There goes my face. Next, she thought, My leg feels like Jell-O.

“My third thought was the peace that passes all understanding,” Kathy said. “I’ve only experienced it a very few times in my life. I was filled with understanding that ‘You are exactly where I want you.’ It still chokes me up. You just know that He’s with you.”

Kathy crushed her heel and broke her leg in the accident, and afraid that the car would catch fire, she worked herself out of the vehicle only to step on a pile of fire ants. She spent the next two weeks in the hospital and more than two years following recovering.

“I was completely non-weightbearing for almost a year.”

Still, she continued in her responsibilities as an area coordinator. “This is a calling—it’s not just something that is convenient to do,” Kathy said. “I prayed long and hard about taking this role. I didn’t feel I should give it up.”

“This is a calling. I prayed long and hard about taking this role.”

Navigating life in a wheelchair, she continued make calls to encourage involvement in Operation Christmas Child and to be a servant leader to her team. Kathy said that as other volunteers prayed for her recovery, they grew closer together relationally and spiritually, to the point of being like family.

She wants those who are considering serving as year-round volunteers “to be building spiritual muscle” so that when it is their time for suffering or spiritual warfare they will embrace it well.

“This is such a powerful ministry making such a big difference,” Kathy said.

View roles available as a year-round volunteer for Operation Christmas Child.