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Most of us are familiar with the lyrics from the Beatles’ song, All You Need Is Love: “All you need is love, love, love is all you need”. But as Christians, we know that true love, which comes from God, is really all we need.
“God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16). The bible calls us – even commands us – to love. The Great Commandments, at the core of our Christianity, are these: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind”, and “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”.
How do we show this love? How do we fulfill God’s Great Commandments? For most of us, it’s usually easy to show love to our family and friends. But what about our neighbor? What does that mean?
The kind of love expressed in both of these laws is agape love. This love seeks for the greatest good for our neighbor. “Neighbor” in this passage refers to anyone who is around us: our actual neighbor or the person at the desk next to us at work. A primary aspect of loving our neighbor involves serving their needs and providing for their good.
When we think of others in need, we often think of the poor – the economically poor – who probably live in the inner city and don’t have much in common with our daily life. But what about the poor in spirit? Those who lack the relational support from others – family, friends, church?
We might be surprised to find out that many of these people are literally our neighbors! They live across the street from us or around the corner. There is a surprising amount of need right in our own back yard. How can we reach out to them with love? How do we find them and give them the help they need? That is where Love INC comes in.
Who is Love INC?
Love INC was started about 40 years ago by a Christian social worker who had a vision for matching needs in the community with caring Christians. Their name, Love INC, stands for: Love In the Name of Christ. That says a lot. Love INC’s mission is to mobilize the Church to transform lives and communities in the name of Christ. They do this not by meeting needs directly, but by bringing the opportunity and privilege of being the hands and feet of Christ to local congregations who want to reach out but don’t always know where the needs are.
The local affiliate of Love INC is a network of over 165 Lancaster County churches from 24 different denominations that allows individual congregations to come together to meet the needs of those in our community, one need at a time, by connecting caring church volunteers with people in need of their unique gifts.
Kim Wittel, Executive Director for Love INC in Lancaster, likes to say they have a “ministry strategy”. While other organizations may provide for the physical needs of others (ex. clothing, food, blankets, school supplies), Love INC seeks to meet more of their spiritual needs.
While some, but not all, of their clients have economic poverty, almost all of them suffer from what Kim refers to as “relational poverty”.
How Love INC Works
The process starts with referrals from local social service agencies, medical facilities, churches and individuals. Next, they assess the referred needs, and if no existing services are available, connect them with individuals in partner congregations who respond with help and hope. The needs represent gaps in current available resources, and give the Church an opportunity to reach out and provide support to those in the community who are isolated and in need.
The Love INC office receives referrals and requests over the telephone Monday through Friday. Every person with a need answers simple intake questions so that their staff has a complete understanding of their circumstances. The need is then assessed for legitimacy, manageability, availability of other resources, and established support systems. The individual is connected with the resources that can best assist them.
Love INC connects people in the church with those in need of things like: budget guidance, home cleaning, transportation, grocery shopping, lawn and minor home care, meals, mentoring, moving, tutoring, financial assistance, respite care, companionship and more.
Love INC also sponsors church-based ministries that provide community meals in Solanco (Flowing Oil Café), minor home repairs (Acts of Mercy), and transitional housing for those facing homelessness (Homes of Hope).
Love INC of Lancaster County just celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2013. St. Peter’s became a partner in 2009. Some interesting statistics:
- 90% of Love INC’s clients do not have a church home
- They receive an average of 40 calls of need per day
- In 2013, they met 2,347 needs in Lancaster county
- 90 local churches helped fulfill these needs
- Approximately 10% of needs go unmet due to lack of volunteers
How Can We Help?
Volunteer – St. Peter’s currently has 31 Love INC volunteers. Of course, not all volunteers can meet every need, every time. The needs of Lancaster County are great. Without partnering churches like ours to meet these needs, individuals and families will continue to fall through the cracks. Please strongly consider volunteering – even if only occasionally. What you give and what you get back are priceless. Here’s what some of St. Peter’s volunteers have to say about their experiences:
“I have done about six things thru Love INC. The most satisfying was when I was able to give a 60 year old gentleman workout clothes and a new pair of workout shoes so he could do his rehab for various ailments. The clothes and shoes were given thru the generosity of members from St. Peters. The gentleman was very thankful and he said it was the first pair of workout shoes he had since he was in high school.”
“…when I get a note that someone needs transportation, it’s an opportunity to meet someone in the community, share a smile or kind word and show Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC).”
All monetary donations to Love, INC are used to keep their offices up and running so they can continue to do all of their good works in the name of Jesus Christ. For more information about Love INC, visit their website at http://loveinclancaster.org/