UP CLOSE WITH JEANIE
By Jeanie Summerville
(Part one of two)
Whatz up, babies?
At this time I need you to know, it makes me so proud that some of the community leaders and some of the residents in the community are really trying to come together for the betterment of all of our safety. But, they can’t do it alone. It takes all of us, working together, to make the kind of positive change that we all want. I’m doing my part, are you? If not, please think about it before it hits home. Also, as far as, our police department, it’s their duty to protect us in our time of need so why not assist them, if you can? Because, in this thing called life, you got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything!
On that note, I’m very pleased to have had the opportunity to meet another minister who truly loves GOD and is proving it everyday through his actions, as well as with his words—the Rev. Donovan Coley, of The Rescue Mission being the first and the second, being this week’s spotlight. I came into contact with this reverend as well, while putting together one of your Inspirational Pages that he was a part of. But even before I met him, I’d heard a lot of wonderful things about what he’s doing for GOD’s people and I love that kind of stuff and I’m sure that a lot of you do too. So in turn, I had to bring him to you, so we’ll all know of the beauty that this church is bringing to the community and even worldwide.
When I first pulled up in front of Love Church, it didn’t look very large at all. But, once I was inside and introduced to the reverend and he gave me the grand tour, oh my GOD, it’s huge, and I’m loving what I see. On this tour, he’s sharing with me what’s what and it’s purpose, it’s absolutely divine. Now, I bring him to you—the Rev. Wallace Butts—so that you’ll know where he’s been and where he’s going and this is what he has to say:
“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. I’m happy to share with you my life and my purpose. I grew up in Norfolk, Va., in a very rough part of town called Park Place. It was not the Monopoly version of Park Place. Lots of my friends never walked the high school stage to receive a diploma and neither did I. Several never made it out of the neighborhood alive. Me, I got my GED at Job Corps, along with a certificate in pre-apprenticeship electrical wiring. Prior to that, I spent a lot of my life doing things the wrong way. That was until I met Jesus and He saved me with a strong hand. I was so impressed with how He delivered me, I could not help but surrender to Him, my life and my way and receive His plan for my life.
“For more than a decade I waited with full expectation that since He saved me, the way He did, there must have been some great plan.
“My family and I moved to Fort Wayne in 1999. Tokheim purchased the company that I was with and moved our division here. We originally decided not to come but again the Lord intervened and we said yes. Again, His intervention in that matter told me He had a great plan in store.
“So, for several years, we waited to see what GOD had planned. In 2005 we launched a Bible study in our home and soon after a church service in our basement. In 2008, I was invited to volunteer for the Love Community Center (LCC) by a dear friend Todd Webster. This was a real turning point in my life. When I took on the responsibility, there was a list of 70 or so clients in a database and only three returned when invited to continue the GED program.
“L.C.C., was founded in 1998 by Pastor Phil and his wife Fran Mortensen. Pastor Phil had a desire to provide computers to families in the inner city. The vision soon expanded to provide a GED program, Employment, Life Skills, Fitness, Aerobics and a host of other services. Within my first year at L.C.C., our client base grew to over 300. This was a result of us having pushed into other areas like providing job and interview skills to families from the IMPACT program and Wayne Township Trustees office. We also helped co-found the Fort Wayne Fatherhood Coalition.
“Things were going great. In 2009, Pastor Mortensen, asked me if I would consider being senior pastor of Love Church. In his words: ‘I believe you’re the kind of man GOD could use here.’
“Love Community Center is the owner of a 44,000-square foot building, which is debt free. We also have over 60 church partners from various denominational and non-denominational backgrounds, who in the past, have provided over 70 percent of our financial resources, refurbished this former mattress and boat factory building and put countless volunteer hours in.
“After several months of prayer, I felt that the Lord had been preparing me all these years, for this opportunity. To do church, in such a way, that we could hand walk people out of their spiritual and personal struggles. It soon became clear, why God saved me the way he had and from what He had.
“During the transition from Pastor Mortensen to myself, we felt the Lord challenged us to do more than just give away food, money, clothing and the other L.C.C. services. We felt the Lord challenge us with the question, ‘What does it really mean to help the poor?’ The ministry has been a pillar in the community at helping the needy. The problem was, the people just kept coming back with no obvious change in their lives. Seemingly content with just a handout. GOD’s challenge made us look at everything we were doing and why. So, we began to change our programming and decided to combine our efforts between Love Church and Love Community Center, which we combined under a new umbrella brand called The Love Center.
“We began to realize it wasn’t enough to just educate clients in job etiquette. The market was in such bad shape that opportunities for families with little or no education, or those unfortunate enough to be in the court system, were becoming fewer and far between, as they were now having to compete with displaced degreed persons. So in 2010, we decided to put the 44, 000-square foot building GOD had given us to work.
“We have been so greatly blessed through the years by other church partners and there congregants. We received wood working equipment that filled a 5,000-square foot area which we used for maintenance on our building. We also received automotive repair equipment from another local car care ministry, which we used to maintain the fleet of vehicles for transportation on Sunday mornings. We received enough fitness equipment to fill a 3,000-square foot area in our building. We received tons of clothing from our partnering churches.
“Seeing how the current job market was not offering opportunities to the marginalized in our community, we decided to turn these areas into training opportunities specifically for those with the greatest need and the least opportunity.
“Our first project was creating Love Auto Repair (LAR). LAR was designed to train young men in an environment where they could receive a part-time wage, training and job advocacy at the end of their training. We’ve had eight men train in LAR since its inception. We were able to do this by staffing our auto shop with ASE certified mechanics and offering automotive repairs to the public, which almost always come in at half the repair cost of other ASE staffed shops in town. This service to the public allowed us to pay our mechanics and pay a living wage to our trainees as they were being mentored by the best of the best.
“The public also came alongside of our vision by donating automotive equipment and vehicles for us to repair and resale, or to simply junk for scrap value. We have been able to expand this program from a one bay garage to now a three bay garage.”
So now, in closing of part one I say, I had so much fun feeling the beauty on my tour, as well as, shining the spotlight on the Rev. Butts and all that he does in the name of love. Don’t miss out on part two that’s coming to you next week and find out more interesting information on Love Church and Love Community Center. So until next week, you’ve been Up Close with Jeanie. Bye, bye babies.
P.S. If you would like the spotlight shined upon you or someone who you know, all in the name of love, just send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from ya.
P.P.S. I’d also like to thank all of you that has been sending me e-mails to give me some feed back on our journey. Keep up the good work and to those who hasn’t, please feel free to do so because I’d love to hear from you too.