Ministry Spotlight: Michelle Virnelson, Love INC

Welcome to Real Life. In today's Ministry Spotlight, join my conversation with . . .


Michelle Virnelson
Love INC (in the Name of Christ)
Cuyahoga County, Ohio



Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly,
for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
There will always be some in the land who are poor.
That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor.

Deuteronomy 15:10-11 NLT

Michelle, tell us about your position at Love in the Name of Christ.

I’m the Clearing House Coordinator as we partner with local churches to help people in crisis. Every person who calls Love INC for help eventually goes through me. We take their information and then I match them with resources to meet their need.

How do people in crisis find Love INC?

They are often referred to us by their church, or an agency like United Way or Catholic Charities, and sometimes word of mouth.

Tell us more about the ministry.

Our mission is to mobilize the Church to transform lives and communities In the Name of Christ. Serving Cuyahoga County, we partner with Christian churches to meet the unmet needs of individuals and families. We connect the resources to the need.[1]

We contact agencies to help meet those needs. Levin Furniture provides free beds for kids through the Cleveland Furniture Bank. Busch Funeral Home donates burial services. HEAP is a federal program that helps Ohioans pay energy bills. Habitat for Humanity stores donate home goods. We will contact utilities and landlords on behalf of those struggling to work out a repayment strategy.

We have a clothing ministry. We gave away 1800 coats last year. Along with the clothing, we give full-size toiletries.

Love INC is also beginning to host classes on Budgeting and Affirming Potential in local churches. We hope to expand this. Our desire is to take people beyond financial crisis to thriving and growing. In the Affirming Potential class, dream coaches work one-on-one with individuals to help them formulate short and long-term dreams. Then, they evaluate those dreams using spiritual, relational, emotional, and physical dimensions. Dream coaches and mentors provide one-on-one emotional support and direction through the duration of a class. In addition, on class nights, we serve a meal and provide childcare. We love them, in the name of Christ, and want to help them succeed.

This ministry is powered by love and prayer. We pray with everyone who calls. When our volunteers call someone back, they pray with them again. The staff prays together twice a day. We ask volunteers to pray for each individual in our classes. We rely heavily on God! We send these postcards as one more way to let people know we care, we love them, and we're praying for them.


What do you like about your position?

This is my dream job! The church has always been dear to me. My father was a pastor. So, I grew up in the church and never left. Connecting people to God and the church has always been a vital part of my life. Love INC is an extension of that.

I like working with our volunteers. I love helping people in need—connecting them to resources. It’s very rewarding to see someone receive the help they need. Families have called and thanked us for the clothing and coats they received, saying it was exactly what they needed. We’ve seen people return to Christ and the church, and learn new things about God.

What is the hardest part?

When someone’s in a real crisis and we have nothing available to help them. It is especially hard if the person has no faith. Sometimes, we just can’t provide what they need. A single mother whose husband goes to prison may need help paying her mortgage. But even if we help, she can’t afford the utilities and other bills. It breaks my heart.

There is always hope in Jesus. I ask every person who calls if I can pray for them. Few refuse, Christian or not. Prayer is powerful. Many times, I’ve heard the difference in someone’s voice after we pray. God lightens the burden. They begin to feel hopeful.

Share a success story.

Recently, one man walked past a church. He stopped and talked to the person out front shoveling snow. He was out of work and his wife was injured and couldn’t work. The church referred him to us. We provided some financial help. But more importantly, the church kept in contact. After being away from God for many years, the man and his family began attending church. Even though their financial situation didn’t change all that much, God changed his heart. It made all the difference. That's love in the name of Christ!

One family with six kids had a pipe burst, flooding the house. The school contacted their church, the church called us. We referred them to the Cleveland Furniture Bank which replaced most of their ruined furniture at no cost. That's the love of Christ in action!

What are the current needs of Love INC? If we want to get involved, how can we help and show your ministry a little love?
  • Volunteers:
    To provide office support: three-hour shifts answering phones and making phone calls
    To help with data-base work
    Clothing room volunteers
    Dream coaches, mentors, and people to pray for those in classes (six-month commitment)
  • Clothing Donations—new or good condition
  • Full-size Toiletries—toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc.
  • Diapers—always in high demand!
  • Financial Donations (can be given through their website)
Donations can be dropped off at their office or at member churches. Call 216-459-0405 to schedule a drop-off or learn more about volunteering. Check out their website, for additional information.

Michelle Virnelson; Janice Cepulo, Executive Director (holding Spenser); Heather Cox, Volunteer

Heavenly Father,
You tell us to call on you when we’re in trouble.
You’ve never forsaken those who seek you (Psalm 9:10).
Please bless and abundantly provide for the ministry of Love in the Name of Christ.
Strengthen and protect the staff and volunteers.
Open our hearts and hands to help.
In the name of Christ we pray, Amen.


[1] Quote from Love INC Cuyahoga County website (http://loveinccuyahoga.org/)

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