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Love Inc is a mission possible

It was a hunt for clues recently at Calvary Chapel, at the Mission Possible Auction for Love INC [In the Name of Christ] of Greater Hillsboro, a local charitable organization. Participants gathered clues to solve a mystery together with their table mates. A charity auction then ensued to raise funds for the organization. 

Auction items included golf packages, an e-reader, Duck Dynasty gear and hand-tied quilts. 

Last year, the auction raised enough money to supply several computers for the Love INC offices. This year, the goal was set to open the office more days per week, and provide more computers.

Love INC was founded in 1977 as a way to encourage churches to become more engaged with the poor and inspire Christians to put their faith into action. The Hillsboro affiliate opened two years ago, incorporating the support of six churches. Now, 22 churches are involved in the ministry.

According to Carol Shafer, executive director, in the first year of operation the organization met 500 needs. This number doubled in the second year. Volunteer hours also doubled.

“I wrote a grant recently and I had to figure out the amount of our in-kind donations,” she explained, “I was surprised we had received $200,000 worth!”  

Shafer is excited by the growth of the new affiliate. She recalls a time, nearly a decade earlier, when she first learned about the ministry through her daughter, who was attending George Fox University.

“We started praying, and seven years later, God said, ‘Time to go!’” she said. “I always thought churches should be Christ’s hands across denominational lines. I believe he prepared me for this. I love the mission and agree with all the core values [of the organization.]”

The group supports what it calls “gap ministries.” When needs are found in the community, Love INC steps in and finds churches to fill those gaps. 

“We have 14 different gap ministries,” said Mike Kellar, board chairman. “We have a ministry for hygiene needs. That’s unique, I think.”

The suggestions for gap ministries come from the community and whatever happens to be the current focus among churches.

“We recognize there is a real movement to help with foster care,” Kellar added. “We have a church that has stepped up to take care of kids, while the foster parent takes a night off. We hope to see more of that kind of ministry developed for kids in the community who have special needs.”  

John Eger, associate pastor at Alliance Bible Church, said his congregation is involved in the “Furnished with Hope” gap ministry.

“We think it is incredibly important to connect with other churches; to help as many neighbors in need as we can,” Eger said. “We feel like the relationship with churches does more than just one church on its own.”  

The Furnished with Hope ministry allows those in need of furnishings to come and receive donated couches, beds and tables. These items are stored in a 2,000 square foot warehouse that has been donated to Love INC.

Lydia and Mike Durham from East River Fellowship manned a table with shoebox sized containers filled with items such as coloring books, crayons, toothbrushes and toothpaste. 

The boxes are provided to the Oregon Department of Human Services, to be given to children who are removed from their homes and placed in the foster care system. They are also provided to fire department chaplains so they can be used in emergency situations. 

“When there is a house fire you usually aren’t grabbing your toothbrush on your way out,” explained Mike Durham, chaplain of the Banks Fire Department.

As executive director, Shafer hopes her small office will be duplicated throughout the county. Currently, she is hearing buzz about the possibility of a Love INC affiliate in Forest Grove, which, due to its smaller size, might be able to take in Gaston and perhaps Banks. 

What is missing for a new affiliate to be launched, according to Shafer, is someone to spearhead the work.

“We have to have someone who is going to carry the vision,” said Shafer.



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