By Barbara Thayer –
You see, the sole financial provider for this family was the man who is now permanently disabled. I shall call him Ted, though that is not his real name. Love INC of Benton County was able to provide a donated car to this family, as they needed reliable transportation to get back and forth from Portland, where Ted would receive most of his medical care. Every Thursday, the Love INC Prayer Team in Benton County would pray for this family.
As time passed, the financial burden left this family homeless. They lived in a camp trailer for a period of time, in the Portland area, close to the doctors. Recently, the moved back to Albany and Love INC of Benton County again received a phone call. This time the call was for prayer for Ted, as he would be having his 41st surgery and there was question of his ability to survive. Love INC of Benton County contacted me to reach out to this family, to offer prayer. I thanked God for such an opportunity. Having been at the scene in the beginning of this family’s journey with trauma and heartache, it would seem almost surreal that the Lord would let me meet them and pray with them, now years later.
I was able to connect with Ted and his girlfriend, whom I shall refer to as Diane, though that is not her real name. Diane and I spoke on the phone the day before Ted’s surgery. I asked her if she would want me to come to their home (they now live in a duplex) and pray for them. I explained to her that I was there when Ted was struggling to live in the initial moments after the accident. I also shared with her that it was God who was merciful and gracious in answering my prayer that Ted would survive. She was amazed, you see, she had heard about this crazy blonde woman down on her knees praying for Ted, but never thought we would meet. She invited me to come over that evening and I gladly accepted the opportunity.
I showed up to meet Ted and Diane that evening. The Lord put on my heart to do more than just show up. Before arriving at their home, I looked in my closet for something I could give to Diane. I found a beautiful handbag that, shamefully I tell you this, had not ever been used. You see, I was saving this bag for a special time. Well, the special time was now and the handbag was never meant for me. Not only did the Lord want me to give something of mine away that evening, but He also wanted me to provide dinner for Ted and Diane. I showed up with a pizza, which was received by Ted and Diane with much gratitude. Everything we have is really not ours anyways, right? It all comes from God’s hands and belongs to Him.
As I reached my destination that evening, there was Diane, standing on the front porch, crying. She embraced me. We hugged and she invited me in to meet Ted. I could not contain the love that God put in my heart for this man. I immediately approached him with a hug, which he gladly received. Then, wanting to bring a little joy and laughter into this heartfelt encounter, I told Ted, “You sure look a lot better now than you did when we met.” We all laughed, then we sat down and talked. I mostly listened, but I also had the opportunity to speak about God’s love and His mercy and what Jesus had done in my life. As my visit neared an end, I asked if I could pray for them. They said, “Yes.” It was a beautiful encounter, arranged by our loving Lord.
Ted’s surgery was the following day and the doctor determined that Ted wasn’t strong enough to have the complete, fourteen hour surgery he needed. A partial surgery was done and two days later, Ted and Diane returned to Albany from Portland. Diane called me after they returned and told me she is really in need of a friend. I told her that works out well, because I too am in need of a friend. She invited me back over and I will gladly go. She and I had a lengthy phone conversation in which she shared much of her heart with me. She told me that both she and Ted had accepted Jesus into their hearts. Clearly, this was the result of many encounters and interactions with Christians, Love INC of Benton County being the catalyst by which these interactions were successfully carried out. God, in His infinite wisdom put just the right people in just the right places at just the right time because He loves Ted and Diane just as much as He loves you and I. It is no one person who gets credit or glory for this couple saying, “Yes,” to Jesus. The glory belongs to God.
As time goes on, this couple is going to need much love, support and prayers. Lord willing, I will be able to continue to offer friendship and support. Hopefully, what I bring with me when I visit Ted and Diane is the loving, healing presence of Jesus Christ, who lives in my heart. I have a feeling that they will be more of a blessing to me than I am to them. For now, I encourage Diane to take good care of herself. She longs to give back to community, having a goal of giving Trauma Talks to others in hopes of educating and inspiring. There is no doubt in my mind that she will, one day, in God’s timing, do just that.
So, how does a Love INC work? My answer is simple….. God uses His people to meet needs that go above and beyond our wildest dreams and expectations. To bring Jesus into the homes and hearts of people who need to feel His unconditional love and presence is the very element that produces life changing transformation and saves souls. Meeting physical needs is important and we must not neglect to do so, but perhaps even more important is to, as my friend, Curtis Miller would say, “Walk where Jesus walks,” which is into the lives of those who need to know His love.
Calls will come in to Love INC of Linn County from desperate, in-need people who do not know Christ’s love. There are many people in our community who are in need of experiencing God’s love through His people. Please purpose in your heart to join me and others who follow Jesus to give of yourself and share His amazing grace with those who call Love INC for help. Together, we can not only meet the physical needs of our community, but we can also meet the spiritual needs as we minister to people’s hearts through unconditional love.
As I close in sharing this Love INC experience, may I just remind each one that it should never be to our credit that a life is changed or transformed or that a need is met. We are only the instruments of love by which the Lord may choose to use. Let us be willing and available to reach out, together, to a community of people in need. All the glory and honor and praise be to our mighty Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
May God’s grace bless you in a special way today.