Oklahoma Church Provides Car Repairs for Low-Income Families

Car Care: Southern Hills Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Michelle Conrad and her husband, Steve, say they struggled financially after he lost his job. So when the engine in their 23-year-old van failed this summer, they lacked the money for repairs. Consequently, they could not transport their 20-year-old son who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.

So Steve Conrad contacted Southern Hills Baptist Church’s Car Care Clinic, a ministry that provides car repairs for low-income families. After a consultation, the ministry offered to buy the Conrads a new used van with a wheelchair lift.

“It was such a blessing,” Michelle says. “We never expected a gift like this.”

Lonnie Vaughan, a member of Southern Hills Baptist Church, which has 650 attendees on Sundays, founded the ministry in 2002 after helping a friend start a church in an economically depressed community.

“We heard over and over about transportation needs,” says Vaughan. “I said, ‘Lord, there’s no one around,’ and he said, ‘What about you?’”

Today the Car Care Clinic—which began on the Southern Hills Baptist Church parking lot with three mechanics—has 60 volunteers from Southern Hills and six other churches. The clinics are held on Saturday mornings at two locations. The labor is free, he says. The ministry asks clients to pay only for the parts. This past year, the Car Care Clinic performed more than 600 services, he says.

“We always think of Matthew 25:36-40, when [Jesus] says, ‘When you clothe someone, you’re clothing me,’” says Vaughan. “When we repair someone’s car, we’re serving him, too.”

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