Two Miracles in A Pair of Boots

Love INC volunteers experience the truth of this scripture over and over. Here’s just one of the many stories that shows how volunteers from our local churches are working together through Love INC to meet the needs of people in our community.

Zion Lutheran Church referred him to Love INC. He had experienced a number of setbacks in his life. He had lost his mother, lost his girlfriend, lost his job, and had been evicted from his home. “Don” would have found himself on the street had it not been for a friend who let him stay with him temporarily. Don had every reason to feel hopeless, but didn’t. When Don called us he was upbeat and friendly. The only thing he asked for was a pair of steel-toed work boots so he could begin the new job he was just offered.

The volunteer from Christian Hills Church, who received the phone call, is no stranger to adversity. Unemployed for about a year and struggling to make ends meet, she was diligently job-hunting while volunteering one day a week at Love INC. Don’s story touched her heart and she felt drawn to help him, but didn’t see how she could when she was barely making it herself.

Love INC put out a call for donations via the Internet, but before anything came through a miraculous thing happened. The volunteer received an unexpected small check from her former employer and without hesitation gave it toward the purchase of the work boots. Another donor came forward with the additional funds.

We asked one of our volunteers from Faith Christian Reformed Church, who is familiar with construction gear, to take Don shopping for the boots. After the boots were purchased there was a little money left over. The client would not keep the extra money and insisted it be returned to the donors. Both donors asked that the funds remain with Love INC so someone else could be helped.

Very shortly afterward, the volunteer who received the original call from Don and gave her check for the boots was offered and accepted the job of her dreams, the job she was praying and believing God for. Her testimony is that you cannot out-give God.

This is just one of the several stories of how Love INC involves many churches in a shared mission so God can work through them for the common good and lives are being transformed. 

 

A Love INC Community Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2012 at Faith United Presbyterian Church

Thanksgiving 2012 at Faith United Presbyterian Church

My volunteers and I sit in the back pew, ready to run down to the fellowship hall and start another carafe of coffee if necessary.  The organist plays "We Gather Together" and sights and sounds from my childhood invade my thoughts.  The lump in my throat that remains for the rest of the service begins to build. Love INC of Tinley Park has offered to provide desserts for the Tinley Park All Church Thanksgiving Service and I am overcome by the simple beauty of it all.  It's true, I come from what some call a mega-church, and I wouldn't trade my family of believers for all the tea in China.  But all of the professional singing, videography and special lighting wouldn't have made this service any more effective.  A simple table adorned with pumpkins and surrounded by food for the local food pantry is the only decoration in this small timber beamed chapel.  And now the local Catholic priest begins the "Peace be with you," ritual.  I am strengthened with each hand that grasps mine.

I am reminded of days gone by, when holidays were nothing more than an event created by grown ups for me to enjoy and to celebrate.  A world filled with tradition, ritual and security.  My eyes now brim with tears.  I am grateful for my heritage of godly parents who served in a youth mission during the Chicago race riots, with toddler me in tow.  I never felt anything but safe.  I long for those days when danger can be all around and mommy and daddy make everything okay.

I remember where and who I am.  After all, I have a duty to fulfill, a task to perform.  Brushing away tears, I smile at my new friend next to me.  We have labored together she and I, talking to people who are desperate in desperate times.  Praying with them, and helping them carry their burden.  Blessed Be the Ties that Bind.  Though storms rage everywhere we look, we have an army together facing the future with God fighting for us.  It's time to sneak out of service and put the finishing touches on the table.

Fellowship time at All Church Thanksgiving Service 2012 

Fellowship time at All Church Thanksgiving Service 2012 


Happy cheerful faces, coffee mug in hand, chat about community events.  The room becomes a kaleidescope from those pesky tears again. I am grateful to serve.  To sow.  Grateful to have hands that can make homemade buttercream.  Thankful to have all of the ingredients at home.  Amazed at the opportunity that the present presents.  Heart to God, hand to man.


Aslan's Wardrobe donations at Family Harvest Church

Aslan's Wardrobe donations at Family Harvest Church

 

I drive to my own church building to pick up my kids.  Familiar feels good.  I want to hug everyone.  Son puts away camera, daughter gathers things and I glance at the table of coats for Aslan's Wardrobe.  It's full to overflowing, as is my heart.  The future is good when it includes those with whom I walk the walk.  He is present in my future, past and present.

Filling Up Empty Spaces

“The only things in the apartment were neatly folded bedding and one plastic outdoor chair and, the amazing thing was that Mom and her six children had been living there for several months,”  Executive Director Kim Sullivan said.  “In fact, several of the older children were sitting cross legged on the kitchen floor eating scrambled egg sandwiches off a napkin because there were no plates.”  But there is something special in that small unfurnished apartment.  There are respectful children and a strong mother who trusts in God to see her through this rough patch in their life.  In her not too distant past, she had a nice home and comfortable furnishings.  The things she was willing to leave behind, in order to flee an abusive relationship to seek refuge at a domestic abuse shelter. 

            Thirty miles away, a mother and adult daughter found themselves homeless and living in a car, but this CNA would not allow hope to die.  She found work and a very kind landlord, who allowed them to move into an apartment without a security deposit.  The two share a phone and a car, and they only have a few pieces of furniture.  Daughter sleeps on the couch, Mom sleeps on a blow up bed, and other than a kitchen table and two chairs, their home is empty.

            Because of a nasty custody battle, our last subject was worried about an upcoming appointment with a court appointed case worker.  She had been unable to provide her five children with beds and knew that her soon to be ex-husband would try and use this against her.  Recently employed as a CNA, she was working hard to provide what she could for her family.

            All of these stories have something in common, strong women are tackling overwhelming odds, in order to have a fresh start in life.  Two of them were referred to Love INC of Tinley by the Crisis Center and have had to make difficult decisions, in order to ensure a secure life for themselves and their children.  The other had to stare homelessness in the face with a good attitude and smiles.  But the one thing they all have in common is that furnishings were provided by the new Love INC gap ministry, Beds & Blessings.  Men from Faith Christian Reformed Church graciously volunteered to cut lumber and construct beds while Sleepy’s of Orland provided mattresses at a great cost.  Several churches within the Love INC community donated bedding and household items, while our new Fresh Starts gap, housed at Zion Lutheran compiled Fresh Start Kits for the families.  The Personal Care Pantry at Family Harvest Church joined in the fun by packing up a house warming package of toiletries for each family.

            In all, Love INC was able to provide and deliver:  1 TV, 1 coffee table,1 couch, 1 dining room table, 2 entertainment centers, 3 house warming packages, 3 Fresh Start Kits, 3 dressers, 4 chairs, 4 bunk beds, 4 twin beds and 11 mattresses!   Thank you to all who made this possible.