LeeAnne Unruh saw a problem and worked to find a solution. The problem was raising funds for mission trips and the solution was Love’s Calling. Founder and Executive Director of Love’s Calling International, Inc.,
LeeAnne explains, “We serve those called to love. If they feel called to go out into the world, they need funding. They need support. We rally around them.”
When a youth comes to Love’s Calling with their desire to serve in the mission field, LeeAnne and her team begin the process of fundraising for them. A young girl came to them this week wanting to attend CTI, a praise and worship training ministry. The course is a one year program that costs over $12,000. The first thing that Love’s Calling set out to do was to research the community of the young lady, because it is this community who will ultimately fund the mission.
“It’s not going to be us with this huge bank account saying, ‘Okay, here you go.’”
They start with a t-shirt. Then they begin to create awareness and to give the candidate a platform to which to sell the idea that this is what he or she is doing. They look for three basic elements of the mission, that can be illustrated on a shirt and used to start a conversation about the trip.
The young lady who wanted to attend the praise and worship training wanted to combine songs that she loved with a globe to represent the mission of sharing the Gospel with the world through song. Love’s Calling designed the graphic, printed the t-shirt and sent it out.
The person in need of funds then takes a picture of themselves in the shirt and Love’s Calling puts the image on their website along with their story and a link to the organization they are working with. They write out their testimony and explain why they want to go on this mission.
“They then share the link with their community, and like that [she snaps] money starts flowing in. People start ordering the shirt. We put them on Instagram and spread the word out there.”
LeeAnne shared the story of one girl in Seattle who was having a hard time getting her church to let her sell the shirts at church. So they sent her a picture that captured what other Love’s Calling clients are doing to raise funds. The picture was of a youth wearing her t-shirt with the caption “Sent”. Sitting around her was her entire community rallying around, wearing t-shirts with the word “Sender” on the front.
This particular young lady needed to raise a commitment of between $1,400 and $2,000 a month for a two year program in the Netherlands in order to get her Visa. Nearing the deadline, she was $700 a month short. With the help of Love’s Calling, her church permitted her to set up a table and in one Sunday morning she had sold about 50 shirts and raised the full $700 per month that she needed.
“So what did we do? Not much, but we gave her the tools to be able to get her community engaged. She’s still over there now. She’s in her second year, doing the mission with YWAM. The idea is that we’re just filling a gap and once the church catches on to what they should be doing, there’s not a need for us, which is perfectly fine,” LeeAnne said.
LeeAnne Unruh connected with One Christian Voice several years ago when she was looking for Christian events that her daughter could attend. “We were just looking for things to get Emily involved in, taking her to concerts, getting her into camps, so we went online to find events in the area and that’s when I found One Christian Voice, and I was in the process of starting Love’s Calling.”
LeeAnne believes strongly in the importance of exposing youth to Christian camps, concerts and mission trips. The mission of Love’s Calling began when her own daughter, Sam, wanted to go to Hillsong in Australia at a time when the economy was down. Sam sent out letters. Due to the depressed economy she got very little response compared to what she normally would have gotten, so she couldn’t go. She also witnessed other kids who were unable to attend mission trips due to lack of funds.
They began by selling whatever they could make, including pictures, signs, and anything that was Gospel centered. They gave the money raised to people who couldn’t afford to go on these trips.
“At the time five years ago, we were just like, ‘We’ll just sell our stuff and whatever we can put in the bank, we’ll give to whoever needs it.’ That is how it started. Very small. From our heart. We did that for a while and then it mutated into other things.”
LeeAnne’s vision for Love’s Calling includes branching out to offer support for kids returning from mission trips, which she calls Before-During-and-After. The preparation is important and the trip is important, but the life story and the spiritual support by the family and the church community upon their return is crucial to enabling the student to receive the full benefit from the trip.
To learn more about Love’s Calling, please visit www.Lovescalling.net.