A few years ago, Texas Pastor, Chris Williams, spotted a mother and child walking on the side of a dark road on a rainy night. He stopped to help and that’s when the “God’s Garage” concept was born.
Pulling over on the busy highway “PC” realized he recognized the woman from his own church! He offered them a ride and asked why they were out in such bad conditions. The answer struck him to his core.
"They told me that their car had been in the shop for months and they couldn't afford to get it out," Williams told PEOPLE.
PC had always dreamed of opening his own mechanic garage that would help those in need. This was just the situation he needed to realize that the timing was NOW.
"Right then, I decided that I needed to figure out a way to get my dream of opening a free garage off the ground."
After that night, PC Williams was a man on a mission. This children’s pastor borrowed money and accepted donations to make his dream come true. “God’s Garage” was opened mere months later.
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As a 501(c)3 non-profit, God’s Garage focuses on helping single mothers, widows, and military wives. Since 2012, they have repaired over 200 cars for free and given away many restored cars to those in need.
"I know what it's like to be short on money and long on car troubles," says 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."
God’s Garage In The Making
PC learned mechanic work from his father who was a mechanic before becoming a pastor.
"My dad taught me the basics of car care, and I grew up watching him help people stuck on the side of the road."
Williams followed his father into the pastoral path. He admits he didn’t know a lot about fixing cars. PC learned the basics watching his father fix cars on the side of the road. Williams instead, surrounds himself with volunteers who have mechanical experience. The garage has a resident Master Mechanic who oversees all repair projects and makes sure that they are sound.
On any given day, 5-10 men will gather at God’s Garage and spend the day repairing cars with donated parts. Some are given to them by individuals in the community and others come from local auto businesses.
Seeing a need in his community to help women with car troubles was the perfect answer to Ohis desire to connect with the community he pastors in a very real way. PC new that getting a car, keeping a car, and maintaining a car were not easy tasks.
“…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."
Why It Matters
Being a husband and father to two girls, Williams found himself particularly concerned about women who needed car repairs. The horror stories of women being taken advantage of in mechanic shops were all too common.
“Sadly there are people who will prey upon just about anyone," he says.
Shelby Grimet is a recipient of one of the cars from God’s Garage. Prior to their gracious gift, she was unable to get a job to support her 5-year-old son. Without steady transportation, no one wanted to hire her. The bus took too long and was unreliable, but without a steady job she couldn’t afford a car.
"God's Garage has given us freedom and has taken away a lot of our stress," Grimet tells PEOPLE. "Every day, they're changing people's lives. They've certainly changed mine."
PC Williams and his volunteer crew at God’s Garage see the immediate results of their help for these women. Another family was given a working but large and unsightly vehicle. But to the family, looks didn’t matter. They were so excited to have working transportation. Even the children understood the importance of the gift. The little girl made a lasting impression on PC with her excitement over the vehicle.
‘It means that I can go to the store, and mama can take me to school and the doctor.' she cried tears of joy.
That’s when Williams knew God’s Garage was the answer for so many in his community. He and the other men were truly God’s hands and feet for this rural town.
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“It was such an amazing and touching experience. I had to keep wiping my eyes that night."