As families grope for funds in the face of the country's rising inflation, several churches across the United States have taken the initiative in the past weeks to spread the love of Christ through free gas.
The most recent is the Lone Wa Worship Center of Monroe, Louisiana, which provided not only free gas cards but also prayer and communion with those in need. KNOE reported that 200 vehicles lined up the church's parking lot on Sunday for the free $25 gas cards.
Churches' Free Gas Is An Experience Of Christ's Love
Lone Wa Worship Center Pastor J. Garland Smith disclosed they intended to relieve residents struggling to buy gas, especially those living on a fixed income or minimum wage. They also hope the undertaking will provide the opportunity for residents to experience the love of Christ.
"We've had a wonderful time--sweating, hot! But we've had a wonderful time today as we endeavor to share the love of Christ and meet basic needs," Smith said.
Lone Wa Worship Center Assistant Pastor Charles D. Jones told KNOE that they only prepared 200 gas cards for the giveaway, which was scheduled at 10 a.m. By 9:30 a.m., he said there were already 25 cars on the church's parking lot and that all the cards have run out by 11 a.m. Yet, Jones shared, there were still 10 or 15 more persons hoping to get the free gas cards. Members of their church took the initiative to bring these persons to the nearest gas station and "bless them with gas."
According to Jones, those who received the free gas cards expressed gratitude for what they did. Recipients raised that they would have not put gas in their cars had it not been for the church's giveaway.
"Several persons indicated that they were on empty. They just had enough gas to get to the church," Jones stressed.
Last March, North Carolina's Freedom Of City Church gave away free gas cards to 300 individuals worth $35 each. This is on top of its pastor, Brian Carn, spending $10,000 from his own pocket in the hope of becoming a conduit of Christ for others.
Churches Meeting Basic Needs
Life Changers Christian Church in West Allis, Wisconsin, on the other hand, spent donations of $900 to buy 170 gallons of fuel from Creation One BP gas station to help families in their transportation needs. Life Changers Christian Church Pastor Jay particularly chose Creation One BP for it was the only Black-owned gas station in Wisconsin.
Creation One BP Gas Station Owner Kai Trimble-Lea recounted to WISN how honored and thrilled they were for being chosen by the church for their undertaking. Trimble-Lea said it was so wonderful to see the people so happy and grateful for receiving free gas, which spread like crazy.
The church's gas giveaway was held last June 11 and was able to fuel 60 cars in a matter of 60 minutes. Word quickly got around that many piled up to the gas station on W. Atkinson Avenue and N. Eight Street for the $15 worth of free gas.
"That's the need right now. People have to get to work, they have to get their children around. Some people, that $15 goes a long way," Pastor Jay said.
This was the same intent behind Ray of Hope Christian Center in Decatur, Georgia's QuikTrip giveaway last April. Ray of Hope Christian Center Senior Pastor Cynthia Hale said they wanted to meet one of the people's basic needs, which is gas.
"People must go to work and must carry on their normal activities but with the price of gas, people are not able to afford it. We want to make sure they can live their lives and do what they need to do," Hale told CBS46.
Families queued outside the church to get $25 QuikTrip gift cards. The church was able to give away 400 cards in addition to other items, food, and clothing it regularly distributes to people in need.
On the other hand, First Baptist Church was among a group of churches in District Heights, Maryland that gave away a total of $25,000 in free gas through Marlboro Pike's Sunoco Gas Station. The church's pastor, Bobby Manning, told WUSA9 that the endeavor meant to show they cared for the needs of the community.
Sadly, the gas station exploited the church's kindness. Manning said church members noticed Sunoco hiked the price of their gas on the day of their giveaway and then lowered it after they left. Manning said they decided to return to the gas station, this time to show their protest, for he is certain that was no accident.
"If you look around...you see this community that cares about the community, that cares about each other, that cares about our economic well-being, and we'll show up to show that," Manning said.
Church member Steven Lee told WUSA9 that they are protesting to raise the awareness that good neighbors want "businesses to be good neighbors as well."