More Than A Car
Gateway is a giving church, but the generosity of our members extends far beyond weekend tithes and offerings. I discovered this firsthand when I spent a morning with Pastor Gunnar Johnson learning the ins and outs of Gateway’s car donation program, which gives cars to needy families.
Here’s how it works: when a Gateway member donates a car, Pastor Gunnar drives it around for a few days to see if it needs maintenance. If needed repairs are minimal, Generous Life (Gateway Financial Stewardship) fixes it up and gives it away. “If the cars are not in good shape, we’ll sell them,” says Pastor Gunnar. The money from these sales funds repairs and maintenance for the cars that are actually given away. Since the program started in 2006, Generous Life has received around 500 cars and given away more than 300!
When Generous Life gives a car away, it’s more than a simple handout. The goal isn’t a quick fix, but complete financial restoration—the car is just one part of the process. In Generous Life classes, people struggling in their finances learn the principles of biblical stewardship. Pastor Gunnar says, “Our heart is to walk with people through a hard season, discipling them … helping them walk out of a position of poverty.” Through mentoring and prayer, the Generous Life staff identifies individuals whom they can bless with a car. He often tells people who receive vehicles, “We want to help you so you can one day give a car away!”
This is only possible because of the generosity of Gateway members. “Our people are some of the most generous people in the country,” Pastor Gunnar says. Still, he hopes to expand the program even further: “We always have a waiting list. I look forward to the day when we have an inventory of cars. I want this ministry to grow so we can give away 300 cars a year.” Donations of any kind will help Generous Life reach this goal. Any car is accepted, and cash donations help fund car repairs.
The results are absolutely life-changing. I watched as Pastor Gunnar gave away a 2000 Acura to Gateway member Robert Childers. Robert, at the time of the donation, was in-between jobs and completely dependent on friends for transportation.
When Robert arrived at the Gateway Ministry Center, Pastor Gunnar and his children, who helped him clean the car, gave Robert his new vehicle and prayed with him. Afterwards, Robert told me the car would help him tremendously. When I asked him if he wanted to say anything to the anonymous donor who provided the Acura, Robert, grinning from ear to ear, said, “Thank you, and God bless you!”
For more stories like these, check out our Gateway Life magazine!