What does it mean to go above and beyond the call of duty?

Well, there are the obvious ways in which we typically hear the term — referencing military and first responders. But there are also the less obvious ways — pastors that travel across the country to assist in a national crisis; doctors that travel to third-world countries or even rural areas in the United States to offer medical assistance to those in need aside from their regular practice; and even volunteers that give up their time and resources to help the less fortunate. 

If you’re like me you’ve probably heard countless stories people have told about where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news that terrorists took down the World Trade Center towers in New York and crashed airplanes into the Pentagon and a field in rural Pennsylvania. It was undoubtedly one of the defining moments in American history that etched itself into the memories of all Americans. While most of us heard the stories and might have even donated money or offered our prayers, I remember hearing our pastor Jason Kraft talk about having a divine moment of clarity that prompted him to drive from New Mexico to New York and to physically be there in person to help out. Now I know he’s a pastor with a pretty big calling, but I would say driving across the country to help strangers in their most terrifying, life-changing moments can be classified as going far above the “call of duty,” even for a pastor. 

I also remember hearing about some local first responders who packed a trailer full of supplies and trekked across Texas to Houston, where they assisted in clean-up efforts after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Their paid duties include assisting residents in our area, so the fact that they took personal time to help hurricane victims in another state also puts them in the “beyond the call of duty” camp that we admire. And then there was the time in 2013 when a group of Artesia folks packed a trailer full of supplies and drove to Moore, Oklahoma to assist victims whose homes and livelihoods were turned upside down after an EF5 tornado ravaged the area, leaving 24 people dead and hundreds more injured. Again, those folks went far above and beyond their duties here in Artesia, NM to help their fellow man in Oklahoma. 

Listen, traveling to a disaster area is not for the faint of heart. Whether it’s after a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, the comforts of life we have become accustomed to are typically not readily available. Most days and nights are spent in cramped spaces, less than ideal climates, in close proximity to complete strangers, and surrounded by chaos. For anyone to travel, unprompted, for no other reason than to help others in their time of need is something most of us will never experience. 

And then there are those who go above and beyond by staying home and helping people in our own community. I have seen people like Lindsey Givens and Don Shell dip into their own pockets and sacrifice their time and resources to help homeless individuals find shelter and basic necessities with the On The Move organization. Volunteers have also helped build houses for the less fortunate through Habitat for Humanity, and they have helped abuse victims find safe shelter and clothing with Grammy’s House. The Pregnancy Help Center offers free and confidential pregnancy services to expecting parents, as well as abortion recovery for men and women dealing with past abortion. None of the services mentioned above would be possible without the love, sacrifice, dedication, and commitment of volunteers who go out of their way to offer assistance, or without the monetary donations so selflessly given. 

Over the years I have also seen the difference generous donations of money, land, and supplies have made in the lives of students thanks to organizations such as The Chase Foundation and the Estelle Yates Foundation. Artesia is home to state-of-the-art sports facilities, enviable scholarship programs, performing arts centers, and a world-class library, all thanks to the selfless contributions of people who have gone far above and beyond what was expected of them, and for that we should all be thankful. 

The Bible tells us in Luke chapter 12 that to whom much is given, much will be required. Whether it’s time or money, resources or abilities, we all have something we can give in order to help the greater good. What will you do to go above and beyond the call of duty? 

Article originally published in Focus on Artesia 2019: Summer Edition.