Broken Down at a North Georgia Baptist Church

We took a short vacation.  On the evening of the first day, Thursday, our 2006 Ford F-150 died. We were stuck. Fortunately, the engine died just at the parking lot where I was able to coast in at Baptist Church or so we thought.

Throughout the Christian Bible there are teaching where Christians are encouraged to help others.  Sitting without travel power in the parking lot of a Baptist Church I initial thought was “we’ll be okay until I can get help.”

It was a huge church.  It was the tallest building in town. It has a magnificent parking lot.

Unable to find help via either of my two roadside assistance subscriptions I walked over to the police station.  The police department had closed at 4:30 PM.  I called and left a message explaining my problem.

I also called the Baptist Church and left a message.  It was a simple message, “Please don’t tow my truck.  I will have it removed as soon as possible.”  It was the same message I’d left with the police. Both messages contained my phone number.

See, in the parking lot of the church I was warned should I leave my truck where it sat it would be towed away.   What I needed was a wrecker service and a destination for a repair.

I then went online and sent the church a message.  I went to their prayer line and wrote I was praying the good Baptists wouldn’t have my truck hauled away.

My wife is a Baptist.  I’m more of a Methodist.  When I was a child we moved away from our family Methodist Church. Mama had us try the closest new Methodist Church and it didn’t take.  Mama switched us to Baptist.  My loyalty remained Methodist even though I religiously attended the Baptist Church.  In fact, I met Brenda on a Baptist Church retreat.  I was 14 and she was 15. The decades together haven’t narrowed the distance of our two affiliations.

We’d once consider a compromise and thought we might find the Episcopal Church a happy medium.  It didn’t take hold.

During the frantic protection of my F-150 we tried to rent a car, no dice.  Tried to find a taxi, Uber or Lift – no luck.  We were stuck.

Lucky for us there was a group of boys milling about nearby.  Once they heard our dilemma they helped by driving us to the property we’d rented for vacation. Before I left the truck I put out orange cones, wrote notes explaining the situation and placed them on the truck windscreen, driver’s door and added one to what looked like a popular side entrance of the church. The door preachers and church staff most likely used when not opening the main front doors.

When the boys took us to the property we’d rented I checked to see if the good folks at the First Baptist Church had answered my prayer line request or email.  No response.

The next morning no response from the Baptists.  I hoped they hadn’t towed my truck.  I sent another message to inform the Christians I was working on a solution.

Finally, I got a response letting me know they’d gotten my prior email and prayer request.  I wished they’d have let me know sooner.  The response someone (no name was signed to the reply) said they’d give me a little longer to get the truck out of the massive lot. The note was short and sounded serious in the matter of truck removal.

There isn’t anyway the First Baptists could have known of my Methodist alliance – could they?  Perhaps, I should have asked my Baptist wife to initiate the attempts to contact her fellow Baptists.

From the rental property I found a Ford dealership 22 miles away and a wrecker service.  The owner of the wrecker service was unfamiliar with the address where we were staying and suggested I walk back to the truck – 4.7 miles away.  He said he’d look for me on the road and pick me up if he saw me. I started running.

A little over 2.5 miles into my run I saw a wrecker heading in my direction.  I waved it down and indeed it was the wrecker service I’d called. The owner operator of the wrecker is 82 years old!  Not only does he operate the wrecker service he is a paramedic. Our backgrounds in emergency medicine gave us a lot to talk about during the operation to recover the vehicle.

The entire drive the 82 year old talked to me or was on his phone.  The drove at two speeds – full throttle or stop.  His seat belt was never applied.  You can believe my seat belt was fastened.

Approaching the behemoth church I saw dozens of people doing church activities. It was Friday however it was busy.  Where my truck was parked the massive lot held just one other car.  Naturally, it was parked directly in front of my truck a few yards away from the front orange cone,  at an angle to ensure removal of my vehicle would be more difficult.

The older fellow and I managed to position the wrecker and my truck so we could remove it.  During those wrangling a church member drove her car perpendicular to the intersection of my truck and the wrecker then paused providing us an angry look.  After a few minute he drove to hir left and departed.  There wasn’t even one car on that side of the open lot. (Aside from my truck, the wrecker and the one other care parked in front of my truck and to the right of the angry Baptist.  The crowd of other Baptist were using another parking section altogether. But, this driver appeared pissed off I was there and seemed to want me to know it.)

There is no shortage of verses in the old and new testaments on the subject of helping others.  I wasn’t asking for physical help by contacting the Baptists.  I only wanted an acknowledgement of my predicament and some statement of leniency. When, after eight attempts, I received the short and serious reply implying that my truck needed to be hauled away soon or they would manage it for me I thought about a better response.  One that a Christian might have sent without obligation to provide physical assistance.

When I was off the property of the First Baptist Church I felt relief no member of the church had done more than offer an angry prolong stare.

Sadly, the F-150 repair estimate is $8000.00.  The price for a new engine.  The old engine provided 238,000 miles.  There won’t be a new engine.  There will be a new vehicle, soon. I considered asking the good folks at First Baptist to pray that I make a good decision on the choice of my next vehicle, then thought better of it.