You can stay in your car and get burgers, groceries, even prescriptions. But in Temple, Texas, north of Austin, you can drive through for something even more important -- prayer! Cars humming along West Adams Road have been passing a handful of members from Trinity Church every day, all encouraging drivers to pull right up and be ministered to. It's a good thing there's no shortage of prayer, they say, because hundreds of people are taking them up on it!
It's just a simple 10-by-10 pop-up tent. But for the people of this West Texas town, it's been a place of real comfort. With hand-painted signs and a couple of lawn chairs, Pastor Ed Dowell says his church didn't need to spend a lot of money to have a huge impact on the area. Like a lot of church families during the virus crisis, his wanted to make sure they could still reach out to the community. "But with the church doors being shut, [the question was], how are we gonna do that?" Then, Cheryl Fausnacht had an idea. "How about a drive-through prayer ministry?"
They got to thinking about what they'd need to make it work, and Pastor Ed remembered: "I had a little 10-by-10 canopy at the house, and we brought it up here to the church and secured it to the parking lot. We got some little hand signs made up, set them out on the road and in the front, and ministry started within an hour." And it hasn't stopped since. Seven days a week, for at least six hours a day, a small team of volunteers and staff are out by the tent directing traffic. And so far, there's a lot of it.
"There are a good number of cars that come by our building here daily -- probably 30,000 to 35,000 cars a day. And the needs [go] from one extreme to the other. People are coming in requesting prayer just for peace in this time, because so many people are troubled, wanting protection over themselves, their families. We've prayed for marriages, children, finances. We prayed for President Trump that he'd have wisdom on how to handle these situations."
"We've had local police officers stop in for prayer, state troopers have stopped for prayer, and nurses. We've just had opportunity after opportunity to minister to the needs of people -- people that probably would not have come into the church normally, but because they are in need, and there's a readily available place they can pull into. We've had a few people [say], 'I've driven by multiple times, and I finally got the nerve to come in. And, you know, the Lord has met them, and He's ministered to them. We've seen people just blessed, just touched. We've seen healings. We've seen all kinds of good things happen simply because people were hungry, and there was somebody there to meet the need and offer him Jesus."
What the world is experiencing, especially here in America, is a lot like the early church. Everyone was comfortable in Jerusalem until they were driven out by opposition, persecution, famine, and difficulty. And what happened? They took the gospel to places and people it wouldn't have gotten to otherwise. As I've said before, this is an opportunity to move outside the four walls of the church -- not that there's anything wrong with being inside the church. But as congregations embrace the challenge and think creatively, more of our country will meet the hope, help, and peace they've been looking for.
In Temple, Texas, Pastor Ed is astounded at the number of people they've connected with who've never stepped foot in his sanctuary. All because a church family decided to go out and meet the community where they're at. For 21 days, Pastor Ed told me, his members have been out there waving at people on the street. "They'll be lifting up signs. One of my favorites is, 'Prayer is essential!' And thankfully, we're in Texas. We have a governor that's actually mandated that churches are essential. But we still have to work within the [guidelines]. No more than 10 and social distancing thing."
Fortunately, God doesn't keep His distance. And hungry people, thanks to this drive-through, are getting fed.