With more than 1,000 vehicles received and nearly 850 vehicles given to people in need of reliable transportation, the car ministry of Orland Park (Ill.) Christian Reformed Church is going strong after 17 years.

In 2000, the ministry distributed 12 cars. Bruce Harnew, the director of the car ministry, said that was the year that the church’s deacons had the idea to somehow provide transportation for struggling families. That idea snowballed into a car distribution program for individuals and families, nonprofit organizations, college students going into ministry, and missionaries on a break in the area.

One of those recipients is Samantha Jakus, a graduate student at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and the director of children’s outreach at Reborn Community Church in West Garfield Park. It has supported her efforts transporting kids to and from church in a rough part of Chicago.

“God has been taking me on a journey of faith where I have to completely trust in his provision,” Jakus said. “This was just one of the many ways that God showed me that he has a calling on my life and he will provide all of my needs.”

Those seeking assistance from the program are required to go through an application process demonstrating church membership, recommendation by their pastor, and the ability to pay insurance and other ongoing vehicle expenses. “We want to make sure they are a part of a caring church family and that the pastor is aware of the need,” Harnew said. The application process gives the applicant a straightforward way to bring up needs with a pastor and seek assistance in other areas, if needed. The committee reviews applications and selects the recipients of the donated vehicles on a rolling basis throughout the year.

A committee of eight church members receives donated vehicles, which are then inspected by local Christian-owned repair facilities. Any donated vehicles that are not in good enough condition to be given away are sold for parts to benefit the ministry.

“We remind [the car recipients] that this is all about what God is doing; about how this is part of God’s plan and timing,” Harnew said. “We encourage them to be a witness to what God is doing in their life.”

About the Author

Lori Dykstra is a freelance writer.