A Love In The Name Of Christ Experience (Part 2)

Read Part 1

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.


A Love In The Name Of Christ Experience (Part 1)

By Barbara Thayer

The mission of Love INC of Linn County is to transform lives and communities in the name of Christ.  What does that look like?  How does that work?  Many people ask the question and it is sometimes hard to articulate.  I hope my experience will offer a snap shot of what can happen through Love In the Name of Christ.  May each one who hears of this story give all the glory to God.

My name is Barbara and I was privileged to be a part of the development team for Love INC of Linn County.  One warm evening in May of 2005, my husband, Jarred and I decided to go grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant on Pacific Boulevard.  As we waited in line to place our orders, a woman suddenly burst through the doors and screamed, “Somebody call 911, there’s been a terrible accident out front!”  Jarred and I gave each other a quick glance and without words, we both headed toward the scene, not knowing what we would find.  I don’t recall which one of us made the call to 911 but evidently others had also called in because the dispatcher knew what accident we were referring to.

As we approached the scene, there were many people standing around but nobody seemed to know what to do.  My eyes could hardly believe what I was seeing.  I had never seen the results of a motorcycle and car collision but this was my introduction to the damage that can occur when such a tragedy takes place.  A man lie on the pavement, bleeding, struggling to take a breath, his face was unrecognizable.  The impact of the collision caused his helmet to leave his once-protected head.  While Jarred tended to the couple in the car, I ran to the man who lie on the pavement.  I remember praying, “Lord, what can I do?  Help me to help him.”  It seemed there was nothing physically I could do that was going to help this man survive.  I felt very inadequate and ill-equipped for such a situation.  The Lord spoke to my heart in an instant, saying, “Pray.  Barbara, you get down on your knees, lay your hands on his body and pray for this man.”  I did just that.  By this time, there were probably over thirty bystanders, just watching.  I was not concerned at the time with getting contaminated with blood.  The only thing that mattered at that very moment was crying out to God to spare this man’s life.  In my heart, I felt a sense of urgency regarding this man’s very soul.

There I was, on the pavement with a dying man.  One other man came to the aid of the man on the pavement.  He spoke words of encouragement, as did I, saying, “Come on buddy, keep breathing, hang in there, help is on the way.”  In between encouraging this critically injured man to keep breathing, I prayed, asking that God would spare this man’s life.  Though I don’t recall my prayer in it’s entirety, I do remember asking that the Lord would give this man a second chance to accept Him into his heart if he hadn’t done so already.  Time seemed to stand still and it felt like forever before the ambulance would arrive, though it was probably only minutes.

Soon, the ambulance arrived and I walked away, searching for my husband, who was still helping with the couple in the car.  A woman approached me as I walked away from the scene.  She said to me, “He’s not going to make it, is he?”  I responded by saying, “God can do ANYTHING.”  The intriguing aspect of her question and my response was that I really knew God could save that man’s life but the evidence wasn’t in his favor.  I believe that is what we call faith.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

After Jarred was done with what God had called him to do at the scene, we went home and prayed and prayed and prayed.  A couple days later, I read in the newspaper that this man had survived, though was life-flighted to Portland, in critical condition.  Every day on my way to work, I drove over the very spot where this man had fought for his life in the moments following the accident.  I prayed every day as I passed that place.

A couple of years after the accident, the Love INC of Linn County development team invited Wilma Van Schelven, the executive director of Love INC of Benton County to come and speak about how Love In the Name of Christ changes lives.  As she began telling the story of a man who had been in a motorcycle accident, it became clear that she was talking about the very man whom the Lord had me pray for as he lie on the pavement, dying.  Wilma told us that Love INC had received a call from this man’s girlfriend, requesting that someone come and visit the couple.  This couple did not have a church family and yet were reaching out for fellowship and unconditional love.  Love INC of Benton County was able to connect this couple and their children with one of their volunteers who would go and spend time and pray with them.  Through Love INC partnering churches, some tangible, physical needs were also met.

The initial trauma of the accident was only the beginning for this family…

Continue to Part 2