By God’s Grace…

Wayne’s story of immeasurable thankfulness

When Wayne W. was released from a Lake County hospital after suffering a debilitating stroke, he came home to an empty apartment – no bed, no furniture, no dishes. He didn’t have a single creature comfort that most of us take for granted.

He had also lost the use of his right arm and hand. “I couldn’t cook for myself. I couldn’t dress myself. I couldn’t even fasten my pants,” Wayne recalls with frustration.

An army veteran, life-long commercial truck driver, and father of three adult children, Wayne had lived independently all his life. He wasn’t used to or comfortable asking for help from strangers even when faced with misfortune or bad choices of his own making.

Wayne had survived two divorces, misdiagnosed episodes of depression and the loss of his commercial driver’s license due to a DUI (driving under the influence) ticket—all on his own. But without the use of his arm and hand, he had no hope of fending for himself or being able to regain his livelihood.

An eternal God is our refuge

Even so, Wayne’s faith didn’t flag. Baptized at age 14 by the Episcopal pastor at St John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, WI, where he attended school, Wayne always had faith in a higher power. He believed then, as he does now, that “God gives us what we need.”

It’s not surprising that three years ago, God led Wayne to Bethel Lutheran Church in Gurnee. When Pastor Ben Squires learned of Wayne’s circumstances, he referred him to Love in the Name of Christ (INC) of Lake County. Within days, Bethel Lutheran Church members and others coordinated by Love INC began delivering meals to Wayne’s home. And within a few months, volunteers from Immanuel Church Gurnee delivered a bed for him to sleep on along with a new mattress, pillow, linens and a comforter.

“I remember a truck and car pulling up, and five guys getting out to carry in the furniture and household items to give to me,” Wayne says. “The best part was when they gave me a Bible. They all stayed awhile to pray with me. That’s the part I’ll never forget,” he says, eyes welling up with emotion.

A new hope and a new life

Wayne didn’t know it was just the beginning of his relationship with Love INC, and the transformation God would make possible through our partner church volunteers.

Over the next few months, Love INC volunteers continued to show him the love of Christ through practical and emotional support. Dave and Sue H. from Bethel Lutheran Church made sure Wayne had a ride to his twice weekly physical therapy sessions, which were essential to regaining use of his arm and hand. And Mark and Rose F. from Joy! Lutheran Church invited him to attend New Hope Ministry life skills classes, which they co-facilitate for Love INC.

During spring of the 2020 pandemic, Wayne was among the graduates of “Affirming Potential,” a class designed to help people achieve their God-given potential by establishing attainable goals. One of the goals Wayne set for himself was to complete training to have his driver’s license reinstated. Since all classes were held on Zoom and he had no home internet, Mark F. partnered with him to complete 16 hours of classes. While the process was slow due to the pandemic, Wayne received his new driver’s license on May 25, 2021 – an accomplishment of which he’s justifiably proud.

Wayne has continued with New Hope Ministry classes including “Healthy Boundaries” and is currently attending “Faith and Finance”. When in-person classes were impossible due to the pandemic, Mark F. and Jerry H., another Love INC volunteer from Trinity Community Church, brainstormed ways to make it happen.

For a while the threesome met at Wayne’s apartment weekly, and then at the Love INC offices. “We studied together, had lunch together, talked about our experiences and became friends,” Wayne says.

Mark, who is now Wayne’s mentor, agrees. “Wayne has been a blessing in my life. I don’t have a lot of male friends, and Wayne and I have shared some common challenges. We go out to breakfast, enjoy each other’s company and talk about our lives and our faith,” Mark says.

Thankful beyond all measure

During this season of thanks, Wayne is focused on “giving back” to others; an expression of his gratitude for all the good gifts God has provided him. He hopes by sharing his story, he’ll inspire others to not give up and not be ashamed to ask for help.

“Through the friendships I’ve made at Love INC, the love of my children and granddaughter, and the blessings I’ve received from the Lord, I have so much to be thankful for. I am more at peace with myself than I’ve ever been, and it’s all by the grace of God,” Wayne says.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” ~James 1:17


Hear More of Wayne’s Story

The 2021 summer sermon series from our friends at Bethel Lutheran Church was about Connected Community. Pastor Ben & Wayne shared the park bench during one service, where Wayne shared what the community at Bethel & Love INC of Lake County means to him. Check it out, starting at 41:45.