Church provides a different kind of ministry to widows, singles

Volunteers, front to back, Nate Hinkle, Justin Hohlen, Stephen Kondakadupa, and Murray Clifton wash a car. They are part of the Christian Life Oil Change Ministry. Employees at Shields Auto Center change oil for single women of the church who sign up, and volunteers wash the women’s cars, all for free. The ministry pays for the cost of the oil change.

RANTOUL — A Rantoul church, in partnership with a local car dealership, is helping women of the church over 18 with their car maintenance.

Once a month, men of Christian Life Church meet at Shields Auto Center, where employees of the business change the oil of the women who have signed up for the service. Afterward, volunteers from the church wash their vehicles.

And it’s all at no charge.

Joy Hardin of Rantoul is one of those who benefits from the service and said it is a big help.

“It’s a wonderful service. I really appreciate all they do for us,” said Hardin, who has taken her car in for the past two years.

Church member Al Vogelsang heads the Christian Life Oil Change Ministry.

“It’s for any single woman who attends our church over the age of 18. We have a pool of 73 women in our fellowship,” Vogelsang said.

The male volunteers perform the service from 8 a.m. to noon the third Saturday of each month at Shields. The volunteers work in two two-hour shifts with six men in a shift.

Car wash group posed Nov. 27

Front row, Bob Piecheck and Terry Shepherd; back row, Eric Jones, Haley Bell, Pat Herbert, Nathan Lord, Matthew Lord and Brandon Lord. The group, part of the Christian Life Oil Change Ministry, posed for a photo after changing the oil in Bell's vehicle. 

There are also two volunteers who sit with the women in the customer lounge “to talk with them and pray with them if they want prayer,” Vogelsang said.

“We partner with Shields. They do the oil change. They give us a great deal,” Vogelsang said.

In addition to a car wash, the church volunteers clean the interior of the vehicle.

“They get more excited about their clean car than they do about the oil change because this is something they can see,” Vogelsang said.

He said the volunteers get as much out of the service as the female recipients.

“They really enjoy it,” he said. “It’s been very rewarding for them. I have one guy who works both shifts from 8 to 12  — Pat Herbert.”  

Men of all ages take part, ranging from their teens to older than 70.

Vogelsang said the program came about because the Bible, in 1 Timothy 5:3, says the church should take care of “widows and singles and the ladies who are alone.”

He said it provides more than just servicing a car. It helps the women to feel more connected, like someone cares.

“What’s interesting about this, this is not part of our church budget, but it’s financed by men of the church,” Vogelsang said.

Christian Life isn’t the first church in the country to provide such a service, but he said many churches do it once or twice a year in their church parking lot.

Vogelsang said the employees of Shields go above and beyond. They will check the car while they are servicing it and point out any problems.

“They will say, ‘You might have an issue with your brakes or whatever,” Vogelsang said. “We have had several of those. One woman’s mirror was falling off. Another woman had to disconnect her battery every night. It was an electrical problem. Somebody paid for that one, too. There was a $700 bill and a guy paid it.

“They’re a great partner with us,” he said of Shields.