“Pastor Chris” Williams was driving home from church one rainy night in Montgomery, Texas six years ago when a mother and child from his congregation walking along the side of busy Highway 105. He immediately pulled over to offer them a ride, asking why they had decided to walk on such a stormy night.
“They told me that their car had been in the shop for months and they couldn’t afford to get it out,” said William, who now lives in Conroe, Texas. “Right then, I decided that I needed to figure out a way to get my dream of opening a free garage off the ground.”
Williams immediately came up with an amazing idea to help others like this woman. After gathering many donations, he opened God’s Garage, a non-profit auto repair service that focuses on helping single mothers, widows and the wives of deployed military members.
Since 2012, this group has repaired over 200 cars at no cost and given away more than 100 restored vehicles to women who need them.
“I know what it’s like to be short on money and long on car troubles,” said Williams. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed that my car would start in the morning so I could get to work.”
Williams now spends his days making tuneups and engine repairs at a shop he set up next to his home, even though he has always hated working on cars.
“My dad went to tech school to become a mechanic before he became a pastor, and I followed him into the pastor side of things, but didn’t know much about cars,” he said. “My dad taught me the basics of car care, and I grew up watching him help people stuck on the side of the road.”
“As I grew older,” he added, “I kept telling myself, ‘When I’m in the right position, I’m going to help people.’ So when I saw this need in my community, I decided the solution was to surround myself with guys who know more about fixing cars than I do. Together, we’re making it happen at God’s Garage.”
He decided to specifically help women because he had heard too many stories of auto shops taking advantage of females.
“Sadly there are people who will prey upon just about anyone,” he said. “Also, car repairs are so expensive, and where I live, it’s rural. So if you don’t have a car, you can’t get a job. And if you don’t have a job, you can’t buy a car. It’s a cruel dilemma to be in.”
Shelby Grimet, 25, was stunned when God’s Garage renovated her Honda 2004 CRV last year.
“It was hard to get a job because I had no way to get there,” says Grimet, who has a 5 year-old son, “and there’s no way that I could have afforded to buy a car of any kind. It would take forever to get anywhere on the bus.”
“God’s Garage has given us freedom and has taken away a lot of our stress,” she added. “Every day, they’re changing people’s lives. They’ve certainly changed mine.”
Williams fondly remembers the time he gave a single mother with three children the keys to a large town car, wishing that he’d been able to find her something smaller and more attractive.
“It was a huge boat of a car,” he said, “and as I handed over the keys, one of her little girls started crying and reached up and grabbed hold of my shirt. ‘Do you know what this means?’ she told me. ‘It means that I can go to the store, and mama can take me to school and the doctor.’ It was such an amazing and touching experience. I had to keep wiping my eyes that night.”
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