For months the Special Events and Fundraising Team and I had carefully planned every detail of the Taste of Love INC fundraiser. There would be a pie tasting, a pie auction complete with pastries baked by local pastors, a silent auction, a classic car show and outdoor games. Tents were borrowed, a restaurant sized mobile refrigerator ordered; the only thing we hadn’t planned on was three inches of rain.
Looking out my office window that morning, my eyes threatened to pool over like the parking lot down below. Basements had flooded. Streets were impassable. It looked like our outdoor event was a washout. The board president and I had a decision to make, should we cancel? Thirteen churches had joined efforts to bake pies, collect silent auction items and plan this event. Our annual budget depended on its success.
Luckily, the church who had originally offered their parking lot, offered their building (despite the fact that their basement was flooding). A new plan was formulating. Because when the enemy comes in like a flood, God raises a standard. An army of volunteers appeared and began moving tables, setting up chairs and working together. Someone got word that the nearby “Taste of Chicago” event had been cancelled that day, but the show would go on in suburban Tinley Park!
A few minutes before the event officially started, the troops gathered to thank God and pray. Somehow we did it! We set up inside for an event intended for outdoors, and in a fraction of the time we had originally planned. But would anyone come? Sewers were overflowing and backyards had become lakes.
Visitors began to trickle into the church until the entire Fellowship Hall was filled with smiling faces. Guests were tasting pies and exchanging narratives about sub pumps and downed power lines. Over the past six months there had been struggles. Disagreements and disappointments had seeped in here and there. Yet on this day, the Body of Christ worked together, looking past denominational differences and beyond differences of opinion. In fact, at our followup meeting we all agreed that God had a greater plan. His had been far more successful than anything we could have thrown together.
Looking back, I realize that the whole experience captures the core of what Love In The Name of Christ is all about. As a nonprofit organization Love INC strives to mobilize the local church in order to transform lives and communities in the Name of Christ. We empower our volunteers who are predominately from our participating churches with opportunities to reach out to those who are hurting in our community. In order to accomplish this, we listen to the agencies that we partner with to determine what needs are not being sufficiently met. After we decipher these “gaps” in service, we rally our churches by collecting product and training volunteers to fill in those voids. Thus far, our affiliate has started four gap ministries: an adult coat closet, a personal care pantry, a bunk bed and bedding ministry and finally a fresh start kit for those in need of household items.
Just like our fundraising event, there are daily struggles. Working interdenominationally can be a challenge at times. We often misunderstand and miscommunicate with one another. Many times the enemy tries to divide and conquer us. He knows that a house divided against itself can not stand. However, when we are united under the common cause of showing Christ’s love in practical ways the Body of Christ is a force to be reckoned with. This work of administering the Father’s love is common to every Christian and in the end is the one thing that matters more than anything. What a privilege it is to be entrusted with the job of provoking others to love and good works in this way.
Kim Sullivan is the executive director of Love INC of Tinley Park, IL, a non-profit service organization that brings together local churches, volunteers, and community agencies to help people in need. Kim began this new career in 2012 after “retiring” from home educating her three children. Kim’s passion for writing began as a child with her love of reading, and her first manuscript was a children’s picture book. She blogs at Journey to Epiphany. Kim has been married to Steve, her best friend and biggest supporter, since 2000 and together they have reared a happy blended household of five. As a Christian, Kim believes that her relationship with Christ is the most important thing in her life. He is all that matters and she is very grateful to be His girl. Kim loves finding the extraordinary in the ordinary and finding lessons in unexpected places.
Sharing over at the High Calling.