As the fourth annual Backpack Giveaway was commencing at C3 Church on Saturday, August 9th, Relational Ministry client “Martha” was not there to enjoy the festivities. “Martha” missed the distribution of her much needed backpacks because she was at the hospital’s emergency room with one of her twin boys. He had suffered minor injuries after falling out of his bedroom window. Martha relayed the unfortunate news to Love INC as soon as she could. Thankfully, the search for an alternate solution to her backpack dilemma did not last very long. Mary, a longtime financial partner with Love INC, heard about Martha’s story and agreed to help her purchase new backpacks and supplies. Martha was overwhelmed with gratitude. She had thought an ill-fated circumstance was going to set her back again; instead, it provided her with a fresh glimpse of the mercies of God. “Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”- Psalm 143:7-8
Erin Macy, a Relational Ministry mentor, sat down with a married couple she mentors over dinner last month. It’s astounding to see the kind of impact Christians can have by simply involving others in their daily life. Here’s a glimpse of that: “Last week we had “Kristina” and “Braden” over for dinner. As we were talking we discovered that Braden had actually had John's (my husband) mom for a teacher in high school. She passed away during Braden’s junior year and he even remembered his reaction to that news. He had some fun stories to share and it came at a really good time for John--he needed to hear about his mom.” “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”-Matthew 6:20-21
Not a week goes by in the clearinghouse where we aren’t surprised by at least one instance of God’s perfect timing with meeting one of our clients’ needs. Late in April, an older gentlemen named Larry dropped off a really nice desktop computer, complete with a printer, keyboard, and mouse. Love INC usually does not except electronic device donations but we had a suspicion that someone in our Relational Ministry program would be needing one and gratefully accepted it. Later that week, as the Clearinghouse Coordinator and Director read through the mentor reports, they stumbled upon an interesting comment; a client was in dire need of a new computer. Melinda’s computer had recently broken; without it, her four children would have a difficult time doing school work. We immediately contacted Melinda, and her family picked up the computer the following week. That hunch had been proven to be God’s direction so that this family could be blessed. Who else could have orchestrated such an opportune moment? “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”- Isaiah 55:9
Fewer things bring greater joy to Love INC than an announcement that one our clients have gained employment. It is especially exciting when the events surrounding the good news are the direct result of a special relationship the client has formed with one of our volunteers. Recently our Tuesday intake volunteer, Nicole, was making her way through the office when she noticed her former Relational Ministry mentee, “Audrey,” redeeming an incentive voucher at the reception desk. It had been a while since they had connected with one another and before too many words could be shared, “Audrey” gleefully proclaimed that she had got a job at a nearby retail store. Several months earlier, Audrey and Nicole had walked through the job searching and application process for this very job in Relational Ministry classes! Now they were crossing paths and enjoying the answer to a prayer they offered together many months ago. “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”- Psalm 90:17
Maria, a participant of Relational Ministry, and her family were living in government apartments last year when they applied for a Habitat for Humanity house, along with 25 other families. In February of 2013 they got the news that they had been selected to receive the Habitat house! Habitat for Humanity focuses on low-income residents, and it requires that families contribute 500 hours of “sweat equity” to build their house. For the past year, Maria and her children have worked on the entire house. Although Maria cannot lift heavy things, she spent three months cleaning and helping where she could. Saturday, March 15th was the last work day, and the following Sunday they hosted a housewarming dinner with all of the people from Habitat and the people who helped them work on the house. They moved into their new home the following week. “As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock.” Luke 6:47-48 *photo courtesy of Newberg Area Habitat for Humanity
One of the many benefits for clients enrolled in Love INC’s Relational Ministry program is the healing and strengthening of close relationships. “James,” who now attends the Healthy Living class, had an awesome story to share with us last weekend about how God is working to restore his most important relationship, his marriage. “James” suffers from a rare terminal illness and recently moved back in with his wife after being advised by his doctor that he should no longer live alone. Despite having been separated for three years, James’ wife agreed to let him move in with her and work on their marriage. Several weeks ago, as James was leaving for class, his wife gave him a hard time about attending Relational Ministry; she didn’t understand why he was so committed to attending. He emotionally described how Relational Ministry was sustaining him during a difficult time in his life. It was equipping him with the emotional and spiritual ability he needed to confront the obstacles he faces. Later that night, James’ wife, apparently very moved by his earlier heart to heart, apologized for her comments and told him she loved him for the first time in years. As clients explore how to pursue reconciliation and build healthy relationships, God is faithful to change hearts and produce genuine love between people. “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”- 2 Corinthians 5:18
Earlier this month, our GAP delivery volunteer, Bill, made a return trip to the clearinghouse with a large train set that he had been given by Mabel Rush elementary school. The train set, rather large in scale and complete with realistic train sounds, remote controls and a 16 ft. of track figured to be an extraordinary gift to a family in need! As is customary here at Love INC, special one-of-a-kind donations like these are raffled off to a family enrolled in our Relational Ministry program. The blessed recipients of this exciting new train kit were Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, a young married couple with two little boys. They have since decided to keep the train a secret until their son’s birthday in a couple of months! “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”- James 1:17
Love INC is pleased to announce another graduating class from Relational Ministry! 13 participants officially completed our year-long program on Nov. 21st. Through courses on money management, organization, nutrition, and Christianity, the grads have grown exponentially in their financial fitness, physical health, and spiritual/emotional wellness. A special thanks to all of our participants for a great year of learning and growth!