Do unto others
Love in the Name of Christ (INC) wants to get people out of the pews and into the public.
Love INC wants people to do unto others.
Love INC believes that when everyone works together, lives are transformed.
Love INC shows the love of Jesus and brings hope to the poor and needy.
And Love INC truly believes that everyone has a God-given gift that can somehow help someone in need.
The concept of Love INC is simple - to mobilize churches to transform lives and communities "in the name of Christ."
"What we basically do is connect resources of churches and community agencies with those in need, with the potential of transformation," said Monte Zilmer, executive director of Love INC in Alexandria.
Love INC is a national organization with headquarters in Minneapolis. Three years ago, the president of the organization spoke in Alexandria at a Faith at Work breakfast. His speech was so inspiring, it motivated several attendees to start a chapter in Alexandria.
Last Thanksgiving, Love INC officially opened its doors and began its helpful mission.
Zilmer has communicated with all 43 churches in Douglas County and presented the mission of Love INC. Every church has the opportunity to become a member of the organization. After just six months, 28 churches in the county have come on board.
"The development committee, before we began to progress, had the audacious goal of 20 churches," Zilmer said. "We did that after two weeks, and it's just been growing."
The churches inform their congregations of what Love INC does, and then ask for volunteers who would be willing to share their time and talents to help those in need.
"We believe that we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that God has given each person a specific gift," said Kristi Schabel, clearinghouse coordinator for Love INC. "It provides an avenue for believers to get off their pews and live out their faith."
So far, about 400 volunteers have stepped forward, offering more than 1,200 services, such as delivering hot meals, snow removal, financial counseling, car repair, medical services, construction, landscaping, lawn care, donating appliances, furniture and clothing, transportation, and sometimes just simple friendship.
"There are so many resources in our pews," Schabel continued. "People want to make a difference, they just don't know how. If churches come together, they can meet the needs."
Love INC receives requests for help from churches, individuals or from Social Services. They screen the requests to determine the need and the legitimacy, and set out to ensure that the need is met through the network of volunteers. They also offer spiritual support.
People who ask for help do not need to be affiliated with a church and there are no conditions or qualifications that must be met.
"Wherever the person is at, we are going to love them," said Schabel, whose passion for their mission brings her to tears. "We're supposed to be Christ-like and representing God's love. We don't wait until people get their lives straightened out and then say, 'Now you're worthy.' "
"Our goal is not to reach out only to those who have made the right decisions," Zilmer agreed. "It's to reach out to as many as we can so their lives can be transformed in the name of Christ."
Helping people in need isn't the only benefit that Love INC achieves. According to Schabel, the beauty of the organization is that it brings unity to different denominations in the community. Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian - it doesn't matter. All the churches are working together to find common ground to help those in need.
Love INC also provides a central organization that can keep track of what resources, volunteers and services are available, and disperse them appropriately.
"By having all the information in one place, not only do you get to see all the different ways you can help, but you can see the holes in the community - where the greatest needs are," Zilmer explained.
In May alone, close to 100 people received assistance through the benevolence of Love INC and its volunteers.
"God is orchestrating something absolutely incredible in this community," Schabel concluded, again brought to tears at the goodness of people. "It's not about Love INC, it's about believers and churches doing what we were called to do.
"Love INC can't do it, but together, all of us can."
To become a volunteer, or to offer services or material items to Love INC, call (320) 759-3022 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.