66 || Loving – One Load at a Time
Imagine having to wear the same dirty clothes that you discarded yesterday. Imagine wondering how you would be able to wash your clothes or even your kids’ clothes for that matter. There are some practical things in life that many of us take for granted – running water, electricity, appliances and such. What about the people who don’t have any of that? Believe it or not, it doesn’t take travelling to a third-world country to find people in need of the basics like washing clothes. You can start looking in your own back yard…downtown.
And that’s just what this ministry does. If you are looking for a ministry that is real and doesn’t shy away when the things in life gets dirty, I’d like to introduce you to Loads of Love. Loads of Love is based in Huntsville, Alabama that pragmatically delivers the love of Jesus to those struggling in many different ways by helping them meet the basic need of having clean clothes. Although providing the physical need for these struggling individuals is crucial, those serving with Loads of Love have discovered that an ear willing to listen, a friend ready to pray, and a heart eager to express love despite someone’s past and/or present is equally necessary. Volunteers meet the first Saturday of each month at the Five Points Laundromat to provide laundry services and food.
The Gentle Touch
Chris and Vickie Gentle are two of the many volunteers who faithfully give of their time and resources for this self-funded ministry. The Gentles share, “This is an opportunity to love on people who just need to know that someone cares.” The volunteers at Loads of Love develop friendships with those that regularly attend each month. When the opportunity presents itself, they readily share the hope and love of Jesus to those who are hurting and searching. The first time Vickie was invited to help at Loads of Love by a friend, she turned the opportunity down. Eventually she attended, but it was with great reluctance and with a bit of kicking and screaming. Vickie states, “It is now one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I am blessed with every visit. I think about my new friends often, and pray for them regularly.”
Touching Lives and Hearts
Loads of Love isn’t just for the homeless. The ministry also serves those down on their luck, those that are the hungry, those living in Section 8 housing, low income families, and more. Chris and Vickie shared about a man diagnosed with cancer who visits regularly. Even though he has a tumor on his side, he walks miles from his apartment to reach Five Points for food and the opportunity to have his clothes washed and dried. They also spoke of a woman that seems to be filled with a great anger. In the beginning, this lady did not want to be touched or even prayed for, but many months later Chris and Vickie were shocked to see that the lady was allowing one of the volunteers to pray over her. Although faced with many roadblocks, the Loads of Love ministry team is still able to show love to all who come by serving and meeting this important physical need.
The Many Who Care
Loads of Love accepts the help of many volunteers. Loads of Love is grateful for the help of Chick-fil-A, Gigi’s cupcakes, and others who provide food that they are able to distribute to the needy each month. In addition to the food, a local church provides a van to transport the homeless and those who are too far away to walk to the Five Points Laundromat. The increasing need in the Huntsville area is necessitating that Loads of Love look for a second laundry location to help the many needy residents in our area. This has been a most difficult hurdle to overcome because many businesses do not want homeless people in or near to their establishments.
Those that serve together…
Chris and Vickie have been encouraged and their faith enriched as they have seen God provide faithfully for the ministry. Often people will come off the streets and simply drop off a bag of quarters to help them fund the washing and drying of the many loads of clothes. The couple explained that serving together in this ministry has blessed their marriage as they have grown together on a deeper level. Vickie says, “It’s another way we connect together as husband and wife.”
Feel like doing a Load?
If you’d like to become involved in this great ministry opportunity please check out Loads of Love on their Facebook page Loads of Love: Laundry Project. They regularly need people to donate money, volunteer their time, and donate coats and food. Serving with a ministry like Loads of Love is an excellent way to create a mission-based community, one where friends serve together while serving others. And it doesn’t take a whole lot to make a big impact! For more information, email [email protected]