I had grown up resenting the church. Because I was bitter, I would send my children to church and wait outside in the parking lot to pick them up. One night just before I called Love INC, I heard one of my children pray, “God, please have my mommy step inside the church.”
Read Rebecca's Story
When Rebecca, a young mother of three children in southern California, had to leave an abusive situation in an emergency, she moved into a low-income apartment with nothing but a mattress, a kitchen table, and chairs.
She was working hard to pay the landlord for the security deposit when her car broke down.
Needing the car to remain employed, Rebecca found herself unable to keep up with the additional, unexpected bills. When she called the local Love affiliate, she was about to send her children, ages 11, 9, and 7, to live permanently with their grandmother because she couldn’t adequately provide for their needs.
Through the local Love In the Name of Christ affiliate, three churches rallied around this young family. Church members supplied groceries, household supplies, furniture, toys, and wood for the fireplace. Love INC alerted another community organization which contributed gift certificates for the children.
Most importantly, Love INC’s church volunteers visited with Rebecca and her kids, building a special relationship.
“I had grown up resenting the church,” said Rebecca. “Because I was bitter, I would send my children to church and wait outside in the parking lot to pick them up. One night just before I called Love INC, I heard one of my children pray, ‘God, please have my mommy step inside the church.’”
Rebecca’s mother had been praying the same prayer for her daughter for many years.
Because of the love shown to Rebecca by caring Christians during a season of need, Rebecca’s life was transformed. Not only did her living circumstances improve, she now attends church and has given her heart to Christ.
Rebecca gladly shares her story with others of how she was touched by the love of Christ.
This is the first time I’ve ever had people looking at the good I can do, not just waiting for me to mess up again.
Read Larry's Story
“I’ve been incarcerated since I was 21 for financial crimes-bad checks, forgery, and theft. This is my fourth time out of prison,” explained Larry, now 36.
“Being in and out of prison, I never used the opportunities to better myself.”
Because of his incarceration, Larry hadn’t even met his five-year-old daughter, Taylor. The consequences of his crimes reached further than he had imagined. He was not the person he wanted to be.
Larry was referred to a local Love INC affiliate’s Transformational Ministry program by his counselor at the residential treatment facility where he was staying. He began a 10-week budgeting class and was assigned to a mentor named Sid.
“Sid really cares about Larry,” remarked the Executive Director of the Love INC affiliate in Iowa. “Sid always comments, ‘I can’t believe how much my life has changed since mentoring Larry.’ It’s remarkable how well the Lord matches up clients and their mentors.”
Larry continued, “I went to my first class not knowing what to think or what their agenda was. The first night the doors opened, I knew it was a good fit for me. Love INC has given me a lot of hope. I’ve come up with a spending plan. I know how I want to see myself in the future and what my goals are. I’ve had enough of jail. It’s time to get my life right.
“Since I’ve gotten to know Sid, he’s like a grandpa figure to me. I had immediate respect for him. The way he presents ideas makes me want to listen. He’s really concerned about me and my future. He’s trying to help me see obstacles ahead of time.
“I always considered myself a Christian. I grew up in a church and Sunday school. In high school, I fell away from that. But Sid bought me a Bible. I’m reading that every day, and realizing that there’s God’s will for my life in everything I do.”
Sid explained, “In Larry, I see somebody who is in need of being encouraged-he needs somebody to say ‘you can do it.’” Sid is an 81-year-old farmer and World War II veteran, and promised, “I’ll be working with him as long as I can be helpful. Larry’s quite a guy. I’m proud of him.”
Larry is now employed at a grocery store, working toward becoming a manager. He is also studying computer networking at a community college. And he has begun to spend time with his daughter, Taylor, to be the kind of father he wants to be.
“You know, I’ve never had anyone help me before, except my parole officer,” Larry said. “This is the first time I’ve ever had people looking at the good I can do, not just waiting for me to mess up again.
“I have never experienced the level of concern and compassion from a group of people such as Love In the Name of Christ. I’ve got an ace in the hole with the support of Love INC.
“My life has been changed, and I will forever be grateful.”
I’m so amazed that perfect strangers have helped me in ways my own family could not!
Read Jennifer's Story
“Jennifer came to us homeless, pregnant, and isolated,” said Janel Beidel, program coordinator for a Love INC affiliate in Pennsylvania.
“She had to move to a shelter where she could only have two of her three children with her. It was extremely difficult to send her oldest child, age 6, to live with relatives. Jennifer heard about our Love INC and called to see if there were any openings in the program.”
Within a month, Jennifer was able to move into one of the 14 Love INC “Homes of Hope,” supported by Love INC’s partner Christian churches in the community. For the next three months, eight churches worked together to keep Jennifer’s particular home supplied.
“The churches provide financial and volunteer support for the home, including paying the utilities, keeping up with any needed repairs, furnishing the home, and stocking the home with dishes, linens, towels, personal care items for the family, and groceries for the family’s arrival,” said Janel.
During this time, Jennifer was being mentored. Three women from one partner church gave Jennifer time, mentoring and support, and connected her to community resources for food and clothing. Women from other churches purchased gifts for the family. Others provided transportation for her to many doctor appointments and to the hospital when her baby was ready to be born.
“I wanted to do something for someone else and give back to someone in need,” said Annabelle, one of Jennifer’s mentors. “Jennifer knew that things had gone wrong in her life. She really wanted to turn her life around and make it better.”
With the help of the Love INC affiliate and her case worker, Jennifer was able to obtain a job doing secretarial work, and has moved into a townhouse with her family. She and her kids regularly attend one of the Love INC network churches, and her mentors still visit with her regularly.
“It’s kind of a family reunion when she gets together with the church volunteers who helped her,” said Janel. “They are like mothers, sisters, and grandmothers to her. Jennifer has not only moved into a physical home, but she has finally found community.”
Jennifer reflects, “I’m so amazed that perfect strangers have helped me in ways my own family could not!”
“Jennifer was a stranger when she came to us, but that didn’t matter to the churches,” said Janel. “Church members simply gave of their time, talent, and treasure in the name of Christ.”
Reflecting on her time at this affiliate’s “Homes of Hope,” Jennifer said, “I felt God’s peace and presence in the home. Love INC looked past my mistakes and loved me for who I am. They loved me as a child of God.”
I was 17 when I found out I was pregnant. It was rough. I spent my whole senior year of high school being pregnant. I just cried and cried.
Read Sarah's Story
Sarah had been living with her dad in a two-bedroom apartment when, during her senior year of high school, she discovered she was pregnant.
Because of the small quarters, Sarah began looking for a place of her own to raise her baby. But with a move into subsidized housing came the challenge of furnishing an apartment with necessities – especially the important things needed by a newborn baby.
“I was 17 when I found out I was pregnant,” Sarah explained. “It was rough. I spent my whole senior year of high school being pregnant. I just cried and cried.”
Because Sarah was put on bed rest two months before her baby son was born, she had a private tutor and spent the last several months of high school at home.
When Jeffrey was born, Sarah didn’t have many toys or clothes for him or even a decent place for him to sleep.
“I had a fold-out crib, but he wasn’t sleeping well on it.” Sarah was referred to a Love INC affiliate in her home town in western Oregon. Her case manager who was helping her become self-sufficient advised her to give Love INC a call.
She asked Love INC if they could help her find a crib for Jeffrey.
The church volunteers at the Love INC affiliate contacted a member of a partner church and a mother of two small children who had “coincidently” called Love INC recently with an offer to donate a crib if someone could us it. Cathy’s two-year old daughter had outgrown it, and was ready to move to a bigger bed.
Cathy readily agreed to give Sarah her crib. Not only did she want to bless another mom with Rachel’s crib, she also expressed a desire to become involved in the young mother’s life.
“Love INC called and said they had a recipient for the crib that I’d wanted to donate, and that I even could deliver the crib personally to her,” said Cathy.
“When I first met Sarah and baby Jeffrey, it really tore at my heart strings. I’m almost twice her age and we both have very young kids.”
While delivering the crib, Cathy immediately noticed other things Sarah needed. She called the Love INC affiliate to talk about what else her family could do to help Sarah and her baby.
Through Love INC, several churches and local agencies contributed items for Sarah and her baby.
“I received furniture, clothing, cleaning supplies, and toys for Jeffrey,” Sarah said. “And they also brought us many things that we would need later on. It was awesome!”
Cathy went a step further, getting others from her church involved.
“The Sunday school kids sponsored Sarah and Jeffrey and gathered offerings for them. A local agency matched our donations. The kids then joined in a shopping trip where we tried to find all the things Sarah needed, like clothes for Jeffrey, dishes, and a new car seat,” Cathy said.
The students presented Sarah with the gifts when she and Jeffrey attended a puppet drama at Cathy’s church. One church member lovingly made a child’s stool for Jeffrey with an engraved plate of the church’s mission statement: “Sharing God’s love through word and action.”
We needed hope.
Read Kelly & Renee's Story
When Kelly and Renee first came to a Love INC affiliate in Idaho, they had separated and uncertain about the future of their marriage.
Addictive behaviors were destroying their relationship. Their financial situation was dire. Their future as husband and wife, and the future of their five children were at risk.
Kelly and Renee were not sure what help this Love INC could provide, but they had reached the end of their rope. They knew it would take a total transformation of their lives and circumstances to recover from the tough spot they were in. They had heard remarkable stories of others who had found help through Love INC, and those real-life tales were enough to give them the tiniest ray of hope.
The first thing that the Lois, Executive Director of this Love INC affiliate, did was to encourage them to fight for their marriage.
“We needed hope that there was something worth fighting for,” Kelly said.
They were invited to participate in this affiliate’s Comprehensive Transformational Ministry program, so Kelly and Renee began budget counseling with Lloyd, a volunteer mentor trained by and assigned to them through Love INC.
“Our relationship with Lloyd created the kind of honesty and accountability we needed,” said Renee.
“It was not always an easy journey,” Kelly recalled. “We had to learn to communicate, to be accountable to each other and to Christian leaders, and how to sacrifice for the good of our family.”
In their first year of budget counseling, Kelly and Renee paid off their debts and doubled their giving to their church. They participated in a Christian addiction recovery program and sought marriage counseling. They forgave each other, and God restored their love for one another.
“Broken people need restoration,” Lois said, “and I believe it is only found in the Christian church. So many caring Christians come together to serve families like Kelly and Renee – teachers, mentors, prayer warriors, child care providers, and the hundreds of people who donate products and services as they work toward health.
“Through Love INC, God takes our individual gifts and weaves them together to work transformation in people.”
No one had ever given Billie a party before, not even for her birthday.
Read Billie's Story
The presence of the Lord was there,” said the Executive Director of a Love INC affiliate in Florida. She described a housewarming celebration for Billie, a Love INC client.
Billie is a single mom with three children. She holds two jobs, one of which is at a women’s shelter where she shares her personal experience of abuse. The children’s father is incarcerated. The roof of the home where she and her children live leaks badly.
Billie’s two teenage daughters have never had beds. Night after night they shared a raggedy old futon. When Billie called the local Love INC affiliate’s Clearinghouse, she desperately needed housing.
“Billie only called Love INC when she was at the very end of herself and had nowhere else to turn,” said the Love INC Executive Director. “I shared her housing need with a partner church in the Love INC network, and they responded immediately. A real sense of urgency developed among the church members. Their response to helping Billie was ‘we need to, we have to, we must.’”
One church member offered a home that Billie could rent that provided a secure environment for her family. But the church didn’t stop there. They held a surprise housewarming party. No one had ever given Billie a party before, not even for her birthday. Gratitude overwhelmed her.
Church members purchased twin beds for the girls, complete with new sheets and towels. Recalled the Love INC director, “The church even bought two chairs for Billie’s new porch, and a flat of flowers and potting soil, because they knew she wanted a garden.” Members of the church moved the family into their new home, set up the furniture, and even brought food.
But most of all, they shared the gifts of joy and hope with Billie and her family.