Church without Walls Shares a Love without End
Love in action. It was a phrase that came to Imani Robinson in a dream and stuck. “Love only has power when it’s put into action, and so that’s what we’ve done – go outside the church walls to meet people where they are and spread the infinite love of God,” she says.
Robinson and her husband, both youth ministers and certified bible counselors with over 20 years of experience in youth development and rehabilitation, have created an organization – Love in Action (LIA) STL – with a vision of equipping St. Louis communities to be sustainable. That begins, she says, with ensuring underserved and displaced families have access to the things they need and putting youth on a positive trajectory.
Receiving its nonprofit status in 2018, LIA is an all-volunteer organization thriving through its community collaborations – most notably with St. Stanislaus Catholic Church – sponsors and grants. In 2020, LIA was awarded a $2,000 YEP STL! grant from YouthBridge, which Robinson says supported its PowWow summer youth camp at a time when kids especially needed a safe and healthy outlet.
“We were able to (safely) bring the community together for a respite from the pandemic, let the kids have fun and play, provide resources to families, share the word of God and let them know they are not alone,” she says.
PowWow, standing for People of Work Working on Wholeness, is an annual part of the organization’s youth services, which also include mentorship, tutoring, counseling/trauma informed care provided by licensed professionals, and spiritual support. “We’re not only trying to prevent behaviors before intervention is necessary but to build up our leaders of tomorrow,” says Robinson.
She explains that to serve a child well, LIA also is focused on providing wraparound services to the entire family, addressing food security, health and wellness, transitional needs and more. At the Polish Heritage Center of St. Stanislaus in North St. Louis – its temporary headquarters – LIA hosts Free Food Fridays and prepares food kits for delivery to homebound individuals.
During these weekly events, Robinson met a grandmother dealing with some serious challenges. “She was raising her four grandsons while their mother – her daughter – was in drug and alcohol rehabilitation. She struggled with her own literacy and wasn’t sure how to get the boys back in school and on a normal routine,” she says. “We were able to put a plan together for re-enrolling the boys in school, sign up grandma for literacy classes and even help them move into a new place. I’m especially pleased to report that mom is through rehab and taking college courses.”
This is what she means by love in action, says Robinson. The words may have been placed on her heart during a dream, but the inspiration has been a long time coming. Her first marriage was an abusive relationship that left Robinson and her two girls homeless for a time, without access to the resources they really needed, she says.
“I’ve learned that God sometimes allows us to go through things in order to give us compassion toward others. Everything I’ve been through has guided our mission and prepared me for this work.”
If you would like to donate or have any questions about this organization, please contact Allison McDonald.