From this year’s Dinner/Auction message by Pat Schwartz, board chair, and Carl ‘Spark’ Ball, Executive Director:
We have experienced another great year of service by the churches in Lake County for our neighbors. There is no way to adequately convey the breadth and depth of what God has done through his Church this year.
The mission of Love INC is to mobilize local churches to transform lives and communities in the name of Christ. Servants from our partner churches can recount story after story of the immediate impact on people’s lives- and they are great stories.
What is humbling is that we cannot see the totality of God’s plan and the depth of the changes He is making in the lives of the people we serve. We often speak of the prison of generational poverty, but what God is doing here is working on generational change.
By the Numbers
These stats show just a few of the ways the churches in Lake County have served our community so far this year. From Bethel Lutheran’s Baby Shower Ministry to Gurnee Community Church outfitting 80 kids with Waukegan Public School uniforms, the numbers of people serving and being served are overwhelming. And each instance is a story in itself.
A Year Ago
Last year, we shared that the board and staff believed that God was leading us to do even more through His churches. We gave many examples of how He was opening doors to additional ways to serve and how He was providing blessings that exceeded our expectations. Tonight, we’ll review a few of those and let you “See What He Has Done”.
Loved Twice Thrift Store
We shared plans to open a thrift store to provide additional funds for the ministry. It would also be a dignified, caring place to shop in our community where God’s love would be felt by everyone who entered the store.
This was a BIG step of faith. As the board looked at each other as we were deciding whether to sign a multiple year lease, we were pretty nervous. We expected it would take six months for the store to be profitable. Instead & through God’s provision, it has been profitable from the very first month!
More importantly, it is another example of the mobilized local church. Volunteers from ten different churches join each week to demonstrate God’s love to those that enter the store, sharing kind words, prayers, and hugs with those that need them. Ministry is taking place each and every day.
Friends Around the World
This summer, a few Chinese students who were working at Six Flags for the summer came in looking for bicycles. They found bikes at the store but more importantly, they formed a friendship with our Store Manager, Lynn, and through her on-going efforts, several young adults from China who had never been to a church began moving toward a relationship with Christ. The students are now back in China and at least two of them are actively attending Christian churches at home!
Our Prayer Couch at Work
A young couple with a newborn were shopping in the store. The staff noticed how the young father was angry and rude to his wife. He eventually stormed out of the store to go sit in their car. The young mother was upset and embarrassed but continued to shop. Members of the staff reached out to comfort her. Soon they were on the prayer couch together weeping. Then, the door to the store opens and in comes the young father. He strides toward them sitting on the couch – this made the team a little nervous. As he saw what was taking place, he proceeded to kneel down on the floor next to the couch and apologize to his wife. Soon three volunteers surrounded the couple with love, reassurance, and understanding of the struggles of an early marriage and parenting a newborn. The young father was deeply moved, vowing to be a better husband and father and to be the man his family needed him to be.
This is the kind of store YOU worked with God to open on Grand Avenue!
Last year, we announced the launch of our Transformational Ministry, offering life skills classes and mentoring relationships to provide hope and encouragement to our neighbors. We want to help people establish goals to change their circumstances and live the life God designed for them.
Through our first two ‘semesters’, twenty people have graduated from our initial class, “Affirming Potential”. Half of those students were volunteers who were training to support the program, the other half were neighbors who have called on Love INC for assistance.
Through this class and the servants from ten different churches, God is changing lives. Our neighbors have shown significant changes in their personal outlook. Six are actively working with volunteer mentors from our partner churches to make progress on their goals to change their current circumstances.
Feedback from the students has been tremendous. But nothing compares to hearing about the impact first hand, as in this video.
We firmly believe this kind of change in outlook is at hand for many people. We launched a third “Affirming Potential” class in October. God is most definitely at work the people attending.
Is God Calling You to Serve?
These are only a few examples of how God has been at work through His church in Lake County – will you join us? If you have a heart to serve those in need, Love INC can help channel you into meaningful service, using your unique gifts and talents.
Serving at Love INC is more than lifting furniture! We need specific skills that you might not normally associate with serving at Love INC – marketing strategy, communications, accounting & bookkeeping. Connect with us to explore how you might be called to serve.
Through your prayers, financial partnership, and sharing your time, you have provided care to those in need in our community. Thanks be to God for what He has done!