A former pastor who struggled with lack and car trouble promised God he would help others that found themselves in his situation once he was in a better place. He's now helping vulnerable women with free auto repair services and cars.
Through a nonprofit venture called God’s Garage in Conroe, Texas, which he started in 2012, PC “Pastor Chris” Williams and his team of volunteers have been triggering tears of joy in the lives of single ladies, widows, and wives of deployed military who are struggling to make ends meet.
In a recent interview with People magazine, Williams, 49, explained that while his father was a trained auto mechanic before answering the call to be a pastor, he never learned much about the trade from him.
“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.”
It wasn’t until he got older and found himself struggling financially, according to a story posted on his nonprofit’s website, that he fully appreciated his father’s talent.
“Unfortunately, as I got older, the things that I should have learned, I didn’t, as I found myself short on money and long on car troubles. I prayed to God many times that my car would start in the morning so I could get to work. No money for parts, much less labor!” he explained. “I told God that if I could make a difference for people in my situation, I would gladly help them.”
It wasn’t until about seven years ago though that while serving as a youth pastor Williams was forced into action.
He explained to People that he was driving home one rainy night in Montgomery, Texas, when he saw a woman and her child walking in the rain. He recognized them as a part of his congregation and offered them a ride. What he learned next stayed with him.
“They told me that their car had been in the shop for months and they couldn’t afford to get it out,” Williams said. “Right then, I decided that I needed to figure out a way to get my dream of opening a free garage off the ground.”
He said he decided to focus on helping women because he noticed that dishonest dealers and repair shops tend to prey on single mothers and widows.
“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.”
Since 2012, with help from about 12 rotating volunteers, said People, God’s Garage has repaired more than 200 cars at no cost and given away more than 100 restored vehicles to women in need.
“There’s no greater joy than seeing a mom finally be able to start her car up and drive it home,” volunteer Harvey Yaw, 67, told People. “And when people donate their old cars and we fix them up and give them away, there’s a feeling that’s unbelievable. The people are so grateful — their emotion always brings tears of happiness.”