Thank You Lord for the privilege to serve You through helping others in practical ways! Thank You Lord for being a God of restitution! Thank You Lord for bringing other people with Your heart of restitution to help make this possible!
It was fall of 1967. Larry got a job at a full service gas station in Bethany, OK. He was a teenager and was hired to be what they called, a “Pump Jockey.” It didn’t take long when he began to notice the unscrupulous ways of the management and employees as people brought their cars in to be serviced.
They had a bottle of motor oil mixed with gasoline and made a regular practice of squirting it on the side of the customer’s engine. They spread it, letting it run down the side of the engine and then called the customer in to look at it, telling the grim diagnosis of what it would take to “fix it.”
Many times, back in the day of carburetors, they’d say, “Do you smell that gas?” Most times, the power of suggestion played right into the customer’s fears and they approved “the fix.” They took off a part, cleaned it, painted it, put it back on and called it new. They charged them new parts prices and sent them on their way.
They also did this with perfectly good parts. If they didn’t have time for the paint to dry after cleaning and painting it, they put other customer’s parts on and “shelved” theirs to be used on future victim’s cars.
One of their most common scams was quickly reversing the wires on the starter solenoid in the process of checking the oil. The placement of the solenoid on Ford products in that day made it easy access. They called the customer over and pretended to start the car which wouldn’t start. They told them of “the fix” needed that would make them a lot of money. Then they switched the wires back around, took their money and sent the customer on their way.
These “thieves” made it a practice to run two scams at a time, never three because they didn’t want the customers to compare notes. Many times they would suggest a restaurant across the street to get a bite or drink so they weren’t there while they did their dirty deeds.
Larry said several times, the employees came to work bragging and laughing about picking up hitchhikers, taking them out in the country, beating them and leaving them there.
Every now and then a male customer figured out their scam and would call their bluff, so the guys decided to only prey on women. When Ladies came in to have their car worked on (many times with their babies), they fell for the mechanic’s fear tactics.
One night a lady couldn’t pay for their “fix” so the manager sent Larry to the front of the establishment and told him to stay there while he took his pay in raping this woman.
Larry was sick to his stomach and couldn’t sleep, so he filed a complaint with the police. The police came to the establishment and questioned the employees which resulted in Larry’s windows being beat out of his ‘55 Chevrolet 210 in revenge. When Larry got home and his dad saw his car, he questioned him. Larry wanted to take it to “BRAD, IN YOUR CORNER” (which had just started on Channel 4) but his dad advised him not to. Exposing Larry’s story could result in endangering him and his family.
Larry drove by the establishment many times after that and it wasn’t long before a sign hung out front that said, “UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT.” He doesn’t know what happened to the team of employees, but at least they weren’t there scamming and hurting people at that establishment anymore.
Now for The Rest of the Story...
This life experience profoundly impacted Larry at that tender age and placed a deep desire in his heart to make some sort of restitution someday for the things he witnessed. Larry had no idea about the greater purpose God had planned for him coming out of that horrible exposure to the world of evil! As only He can, God took what Satan meant for evil and turned it into something good.
One night while Larry was still working at that service station, a man was passing through Bethany on Rt. 66. (This was before Interstate 40 was finished.) It was cold and rainy and Larry was hoping this man would choose “self-service” but of course he pulled up to the “full-service” and came inside where it was warm and dry. Larry was grateful when the man said he didn’t need his oil checked and the other services, so he pumped his gas and came back inside to collect his pay. This gentleman began to talk about Jesus and asked Larry if he would like to ask Him into his heart. Without conviction or any tears, Larry answered, “Sure,” as if taking him up on a fire insurance policy. It sounded good to him, so why not? The man handed him a pamphlet and drove away. Larry thinks the pamphlet may have been something like “The 4 Spiritual Laws.” There was no discipleship, no idea what he had done; nonetheless, seeds were planted in his heart. Larry took the pamphlet, read it and went about his life.
Larry graduated high school, went into the military, got married, had two sons, moved to Phoenix, moved back to Oklahoma; had several jobs, a wayward son and a divorce. At the end of his rope, he cried out to God for help and God was there with His outstretched hand, waiting to fulfill His plan. He began to go to a church, which wasn’t following the truth of the WORD, so he tried another one. He shared with the pastor what had happened in his life and his desire to have a Godly wife. The pastor prayed with him. That’s when we met at a young boy’s birthday party that happened to be a mutual friend of both of our boys, Bill and James. I will save that story for another time, but you know how that turned out since we’ve been together now, by the grace of our Lord, for over 26 years!
Larry had witnessed Satan steal from and kill the dignity of good people in the past and he still sees businesses take advantage of people to this day. He wants to be a part of God’s restitution. What God revealed to him was to use TRUTH, EDUCATION AND PRACTICAL HELP FOR SINGLE MOMS, THE ELDERLY, VETERANS; ANYONE IN NEED OF CAR REPAIR.
Larry told his story to a Promise Keeper’s group 24 years ago. That was the beginning of putting feet to his vision of restitution. With the help of a good friend, Walt Strong, and a trip to Chicago to observe an established Car Care Ministry, Godspeed/Car Care was birthed under a shade tree in front of Metro Church (which is now Life.church), April of 1995. Over the next 23 years, God brought many others into our lives who share the vision of restitution. The anointing God has placed on this empowering ministry is evidenced in so many ways; one of which is looking into eyes previously full of worry and anxiety, and afterwards seeing tears of relief on the faces of those who are able to drive away with peace and hope for their future.
We thank our selfless volunteers who respect and honor people with kindness and honesty, not expecting anything in return.
THE BIRTH OF GODSPEED CAR CARE MINISTRY
Larry's Story - Written by Linda Smiley