When Numbers Become Stories



There is a dilapidated stove on the back porch along with some broken furniture and a bag of tattered clothing. A volunteer and I knock on the paint peeled door, unsure of what to expect. Lock jiggling, we see a brown eye through the crack. “We are here from Love INC,” I hear myself say. The door opens quickly to the rest of the face and a smile erupts as our hostess graciously invites us in.

I try not to draw my breath in surprise. An immaculate flat with gleaming golden oak floors beams in front of us. Our friend introduces herself and her children. They also smile big and thank us for coming. They are sitting on the floor eating homemade breakfast biscuits balanced on a napkin. There is no furniture in this home, no plates for the food. Just a single plastic stacking chair in the kitchen which they reserve for mama. Teenage girls grin cross legged on linoleum.

My volunteer and I are here on a home visit. Recently our Love INC affiliate began a Beds and Blessings ministry providing bunk beds, mattresses and bedding for families in need. This is our first client and I like to observe the process at the start so that I can help write the procedures for these volunteer opportunities. Typically these visits are to verify need and check the space to ensure that there is room for our gift. The need was apparent and the empty rooms ensured plenty of space.

The solitary chair is surrounded by mounds of neatly folded bedding used to make pallets for this mom and her six children. They’ve been living like this for the past two months. After recently fleeing domestic abuse, this brave family spent time in a shelter and was now venturing out on their own. They were clearly happy to be together.

Much time is spent at our board meetings discussing people just like this as a number. “Forty three families were served by Love INC this month,” we might say. Or, “50 volunteers gave 412 hours this quarter,” I might boast. But this family? They are not just a number that nameless volunteers visit to fulfill community service hours. No, they are royalty. The children are princes and princesses who treat their brave warrior mama like the queen that she is. They have made a home out of the shambles of their lives. Grateful for napkins and a plastic chair.

What a pleasure it will be to deliver not only two bunk beds, but two single beds, a couch, a dining room table and chairs as well as several small pieces of furniture to this family. At the close of our visit we asked to pray for them. Prayers are welcome and the family gathered in a circle clad with hands of various shades of brown. When my companion and I finish our petitions, our hostess prays for us. She thanks God for sending generous Christians to help and asks Him to bless our homes and families. A familiar lump in my throat and stinging in my eyes threatens to reveal swelling emotions. Because sometimes experiencing the story of a life makes cold hard numbers a beautiful thing.

linking with the amazing people at The High Calling.

…and I chronicle His grace


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17 thoughts on “When Numbers Become Stories

  1. Beautiful Kim, in so many ways. I also get that familiar lump in my throat many times. If I lived where you are, I would most certainly want to work at Love, Inc. But I guess I am needed here at HOTEL INC 😉 God bless you in all that you do!

  2. Hi Kim! What a beautiful story, and what beautiful work you do too. A place where you can make a difference, and where prayers are welcomed.
    Numbers are gratifying, but they don’t tell the whole story. Each stroke of the keyboard is someone’s life, as you pointed out. Thank you for putting a face on the work you do, and the successes you achieve!

    From Unforced Rhythms,

    • Thanks for visiting Ceil! I do like numbers too. They make what I do concrete. But I don’t want to only live in the hardness of concrete. I want to live in the cushion of a soft heart.

  3. Thanks for opening our eyes to the truth of what lies on the other side of life. There all kinds of lives being lived out around us, and unless we commit to service, we often don’t see what you likely experience often. Thanks for your ministry of service. And for this truthful post and reminder.

  4. Kim, I love this story! It reminds me of my work with resettled refugees in Amarillo, Texas, a few years ago. I am grateful you submitted it to our linkup, and am pleased to tell you that we’ll be publishing and featuring it tomorrow (Monday, September 8) on the site. Congratulations, and great work!

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