Many experiences happen to us along life's journey, but occasionally events take place in our lives that we never forget. Such as it was on a warm summer day a few years ago along a Boone County road south of Lebanon, Indiana.
I had just appointed church officers in our small church, Alpha & Omega Outreach,
of Thorntown Indiana. What was unusual about this church was that it was founded
by 12 teenagers, who set out to do the work of the ministry and reach other teens
with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I had the privilege of being their pastor!
On a Saturday morning, myself, and the new church officers piled in our old run down
1977 Chevy van to take a trip to Indianapolis to a large Christian bookstore to get some good Sunday school material for the church. The van was almost always on the verge of falling apart, and we always prayed at the beginning of every outing we took that we could get there and back in one piece.
After successfully getting some good material for Sunday school, we began the
50-mile drive back to Thorntown Indiana. Almost 3/4 of the way home, some had
to take a restroom break, and I needed to get gas for the old Chevy van.
As I finished putting gas in the van and the several young church officers returned
with snacks, we began the last leg of our trip. We had to take a side road to get
to the Interstate 65 entrance ramp. But only a mile up the road, the old van sputtered and died. Every time I was able to start it, it would run for about 3 seconds, and then shut back off.
Not a good situation, as the sun was going down, and I had a vanload of teenagers,
and a broken down van. My worst fears were that the poor old vehicle had driven it's
last mile, as it leaked oil and had some serious engine problems. The young people
tried to keep a positive attitude, but after about 30 minutes of fooling with the engine,
there was no starting of the vehicle.
I felt rather foolish, when Jeff, my treasurer, suggested we pray after quite some time
of sitting there! Here I was, the pastor, and hadn't even taken the step to pray. Not
having the best faith a man could have....(I knew the condition of the van)...I then asked Jeff to pray.
Jeff prayed a simple and direct prayer. He simply asked the Lord to fix the van, and let it start so we could go home. Then when he was done praying, he then asked me to start the van in faith. I turned the key, the engine cranked........and cranked...
and wouldn't start. Jeff then said: "Well, that does a lot for your faith!"
We nervously chuckled, and I sought for some "pastoral" answer to give the young people to enact spiritual "damage control."
It was now dark. It seemed Jesus didn't hear us or answer our prayers, and I felt the
only thing left to do was to walk back to the truck stop and call parents to come and
get us. It was then that two headlights came up the side road towards us, coming off the interstate. The headlights approached, and began to slow down. It then became obvious that the car was going to stop. Was whoever was in this car going to help us? Or was this a dangerous situation that I would need to react quickly to?
The car pulled up by the driver's side of the van where I was sitting. The passenger window was rolled down, and in the car I could make out the outline of a man, not young but not old. I suddenly felt a strange presence, as I could clearly see his
eyes burning on me. It was as if they looked right through me!
He then spoke in a very serious and direct manner. The teenagers were all pressed
to the left side of the van, wondering what was going on, as this strange man began
His words I may never forget: "I was directed by the Lord to take this exit and speak
with you. The reason you are stranded along this road is because you didn't put gasoline in this vehicle. You put diesel fuel in the tank by mistake. Now here is the
main thing I am to say to you. Jesus is coming VERY SOON, AND IT IS NO TIME TO PLAY GAMES WITH GOD." He then drove off into the night.
We all sat there stunned. Then, as if on cue, we all scrambled out of the van around
to the side where the gas tank was located. I slowly took the cap off, and the pungent odor of diesel fuel escaped and filled the air! I then realized that I had pumped it into the tank by mistake, as the pump was located right by the gas pumps, and I didn't notice!
It was a God moment.....a serious moment. For He had visited us and answered Jeff's prayer in a more miraculous way than we could have imagined, and had brought us a very serious message directly from God that we would never forget.