“Repairing Cars – Repairing Lives” sums up the vision of the CARS ministry in Wingham, Ontario. The phrase is also printed on the backs of T-shirts worn by volunteers for Christian Automotive Repair Service (CARS), who gather weekly to do repairs and maintenance on the vehicles of people who could not otherwise afford to have the work done. Afterward they stay for a Bible study described as “a key part of the CARS ministry.”
CARS Ladies Night
Because of this very practical service to the community and the small group time for volunteers, “we have seen men growing in their faith and have had several people come to Christ,” said executive director Doug Kuyvenhoven.
Modeled after a similar program in Chicago, Ill., the service was started in Wingham as a ministry of Maitland River Community Christian Reformed Church. The program later branched out to become a separate nonprofit entity, though half of its volunteers still come from the church. Servicing an average of two vehicles each week, the garage sees close to 100 cars each year.
People receiving help from the ministry pay for the parts at cost; labor is free. To support overhead costs such as insurance, rent, and utilities, CARS receives donations of used vehicles. These are either stripped for parts and scrap metal or repaired and safety-checked, and then sold. The ministry offers occasional classes for people interested in learning the basics of vehicle maintenance.
In 2011, an affiliated ministry, which also sees two or three vehicles each week, opened in nearby Hanover, Ontario. According to the CARS website, organizers would like to see CARS ministry garages opening across Canada.
“CARS,” said Doug Kuyvenhoven, “serves a real need in the community, gets people involved in Christian ministry doing something they enjoy, and is a great witness for Christ.”