“Need a Lift, Mr?”
Matthew 25:35-40 Parable of Jesus
[The King says] “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you
in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of
mine, you did for me.’”
In the old days before the craziness, a fellow without transportation would stick out his thumb alongside the road. Sooner or later a passing car or truck would pull over with the magic words, “Need a lift?” Women rarely travelled in this fashion, but a man down on his luck could get from Virginia to California.
Sometimes tales from the road were heart-warming, sometimes a bit hair-raising. But hitchhiking was an accepted part of life. Not today. Hitchhiking is illegal on many roads. People whiz by, locked in
their insulated domain on wheels, paying little attention in any case. Buses are handy, if they run near one’s home. JAUNT is great if you have certain qualifying conditions. Friends are great, too, if you happen to have a generous one—with a vehicle that runs. Cabs and Uber are an obvious choice if you have the money for that. Trains, planes, and Greyhound or Trail- Need a Lift, Mr.? ways are also fine, but again, you need the money for a ticket.
Without resources it’s hard to find a ride these days! Some of the folks we work with fit into the NONE OF THE ABOVE category—no money. Recently an elderly woman, unsteady on her feet, needed a ride and someone to stand with her in the line at DMV. A goodly number of folks, with few or no social network supports, have needed transportation to doctors’ appointments. Nowadays, medical establishments require an accompanying person waiting to transport the patient home before they will even agree to do the procedure. They will not allow JAUNT or a cab or Uber. The patient cannot take the city bus. How scary it must be to need a life-saving procedure only to be told that certain parameters must be in place before the test can even be scheduled.
Then there are elderly or infirm people who need to go grocery shopping or pick up a pre-
scription. How does that happen with an empty wallet and no one around to trust?
For some time now Love INC has been using our network of volunteers to help with this need. But we have long been thinking that perhaps a church or two would like to take this ministry on as part of its outreach, a bridge or GAP ministry. Love INC generally knows the clients in need of transportation or gets information from others before agreeing to find a ride. In rare cases, we do not know them, but a pastor or church secretary does and telephones us about the person.
We are asking our church members to think and pray on this need. Could your small group or your congregation be part of this chance to witness and minister to another person while driving them somewhere? Please consider!
A Match Made in Heaven
Six years ago, Love INC sent out a spiritually sensitive request from a Region Ten case manager. An elderly lady, we will call her “Liz,” was facing death with great anxiety. She had been estranged from
both church and family. She had attended church for a while, but had a “bad experience.” Unfortunately, people sometimes suffer negative encounters at a church—they become gun-shy and never want
to hear about our Lord again. As a result, they don’t understand His love and forgiveness. This may have been Liz’s story. She also spoke of a childhood full of anxiety and neglect. And now she had mental health issues along with health problems. She was fearing death.
Instead of sending this request out in a blanket email, Love INC staff prayed about the right person to take on the case. It had to be someone strong, faithful, and caring, someone who would share the love of Christ—all the while taking genuine interest in the story of one of His “least of these.” Finding a match would be quite a challenge.
After much prayer and deliberation, our staff decided to write Brad. “Here is an ongoing request tailored just for you,” we said. “We think you are just the right person!” We waited for a reply.
As it turned out, yes, Brad was exactly the right person. He took the assignment and did more than we ever could have expected. Our Liz is now nearly 80 years old and doing much better, though she still lives with some residual anxiety. And Brad is still meeting with Liz six years later! Brad wrote to us recently: “This is a request that you sent to me six years ago. We are still meeting with her today. She is functioning much better than she was. Praise God! Your work is a blessing to so many people. Thank you for the invitation to help. You changed both of our lives forever.”
We beg to differ. YOUR work is the blessing! YOU, those of you who volunteer to help another person in the name of Christ, YOU are the blessing! YOU, those of you who pray for Love INC or who support us financially, YOU are the blessing! It is WE who thank YOU!
A Christian Wife’s Resolve
She crossed paths with Love INC briefly again when she needed help with a volunteer position through a program with the Department of Social Services. Without reliable childcare, the job wasn’t a great fit. Again, we were a little skeptical but we helped as best we could. And once more, Love INC didn’t see her for
When next we heard from her, however, everything had changed!
Our worries had been for nothing. The Lord had blessed her faithful efforts. She’d finished her schooling and was working as a peer counselor with the city. She led a group of women in Scrip-
ture study and daily wrote encouragements on her FACEBOOK page. She was helping a great many people. Her child was now in school and her husband was due to get out of jail soon.
She prepared to greet him as a faithful Christian wife. Our friend was unwavering, despite discouraging setbacks. She had complete faith that God wanted her family back together. We were not privy to all the struggles that they went through, but just as the pandemic was easing, her husband called Love INC. He had landed a very good job and needed a car for work…could we help one more time? You bet we could.
In God’s perfect timing, it so happened that Roger and his wife Donna were downsizing and looking to donate a car they no longer needed. Over the years Roger and Donna had given lavishly of themselves on behalf of Love INC and had also provided material goods by the bushel full! But this time they were giving
something quite different. To a man who had been down and out, they were giving a new lease on life, along with self-respect and a way to support his family.
The gifts of God are many, and they come from many different places. We thank the Lord for this one wife’s strong Christian faith, and we thank Roger and Donna for their wonderful support over the years. Through folks like that- and donors like you!- Love INC continues to stay afloat and change lives throughout our community.
Well Beyond All We Had Asked
We’ve told you some of our stories. There were whole families who had contracted Covid or who, because of health conditions, dared not go into the community. They needed food deliveries but couldn’t afford the delivery service—or the food! Good people had burst through the safety nets of social services. Some didn’t even have the gasoline to travel to the food pantries.
Meanwhile, Covid sufferers were ending up with disabling long-term effects such as permanently scarred lungs or neurological issues. We had clients who were hospitalized with Covid and in the process found out they had cancer, too. Now weakened from Covid and cancer treatments, they found they were unable to work as they had just months before—and even if they could work, their jobs may have evaporated. Families were powerless to help their sick relatives because they had no financial cushion left to meet their own needs.
In addition to this, the elderly and infirm feared going to important medical appointments because of the very real danger of contracting the virus. Then there were single mothers unable to work because they had children at home struggling with the rigors of remote learning. They had counted on their children being in school during the day so that they could go to work. And there were more homeless
families than ever.
We advocated strongly for those who were desperately ill and had exhausted their public safety-net options. They couldn’t work or gain immediate access to SSDI disability insurance. Our church partners asked us to do more investigative work, background research on individuals seeking help. These intakes took time and required more than one pair of eyes looking over them.
Through all of this exhaustion, it was God’s strength that held us up. And the battle’s not over yet! We still need the Lord’s strong right arm to sustain us, so please pray for Love INC as we begin climbing out of the turmoil—after all, we here have had our own personal struggles to contend with during this pandemic.
During the worst of it, dedicated church volunteers put themselves at risk to assist the needy with transportation and shopping. The abundance of gift cards that came in over the holidays served as an amazing lifeline for our families, tiding them over until the next unemployment or Social Security check ar-
rived. And we never had to say that we were out of resources—isn’t that remarkable? We always had some way to help the needy who came to us. Our church partners have been wonderfully generous and we have even been able to meet needs far outside our usual limits. Ephesians 3:20 speaks to this, reminding us all that God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
In closing, we want to present some notable numbers, some stats that show the Lord’s hand in the marvelous churches and organizations we work with. We don’t have room to list every-
one, but here are a few standouts:
Connect Church has met personal care needs more than
200 times since January.
Olivet Presbyterian has assisted with diapers 120 times
Our office has received 64 household-item donations since
Wal-Mart, through the Kiwanis Club, has donated new clothing to nearly 50 families, and each material donation helped alleviate a financial burden.
Transforming Lives in the Name of Christ
Now that the worst of the pandemic seems to have passed, we at Love INC are quite hopeful about reopening our very successful Transformational Ministry, which we instituted four years ago. All we need now is you!
The ministry concept is a significant part of our goal to empower our neighbors in need, teaching them how to overcome certain challenges without outside assistance. In the program, we train volunteers to be mentors; through courses that offer both financial education and life skills, our wonderful volunteers learn mentoring skills to benefit the participants. The process is unique in that everyone involved grows spiritually, emotionally, relationally, and occupationally. Such teaching
makes a tremendous difference in peoples’ lives—so much so that many of those who take part refer their
friends and family to this outreach. Covid broke the successful momentum of the program because of quarantining, but we are now working to reestablish it as soon as is practical.
We use as our guide Redemptive Compassion, by Lois Tupyi, the executive director of Treasure Valley,
Idaho. Redemptive Compassion is a seven-week course for those who want to understand how to mentor our
neighbors in need by having a relationship, not by acting as an instructor. When completed, the mentor really understands the strategy and the philosophy of Love
INC. Please consider it and let us know if you are interested in this remarkable opportunity. It even makes a
good Life Group topic when looking for another series—several churches have used it as one of their series.
In the Transformational Ministry, our clients’ first course is designed to help them examine their life choices and take steps toward positive change. It’s intended to build self esteem—people need to know they are not a mistake, not a hopeless mess, but are made with purpose and in God’s image. This is not to impose our thoughts, values, or way of life on other people but to help them discover what the biblical perspective is and what God wants for them. So we invite people we frequently work with into the Transformational Ministry to show there is a better way to approach life, and that’s through determining God’s will for us.
The value of the program is best measured in personal testimonies. Our clients report substantial changes in their lives—life-changing moves that open up a whole new world for them. And the mentors benefit greatly as well, with the bonds they form feeling an awful lot like family! While Covid paused our momentum, we know the Lord is undeterred. We’re working hard on our end at Love INC. It’s our hope that your financial support and prayers will soon reinstate the Transformational Ministry and get this life-changing help to our neighbors in need. Please help us help them!