Over the years, we have always given our cars names. When we got our 95 LaSabre three years ago, I named it “Tubby” because it reminds me of an upside down bath tub on wheels. Of course, Jane,
as a Weight Watcher lecturer of many years has an aversion to my name, but I am making progress. I refer to it as a term of endearment.

The Lord’s day of October 22nd was spent with some new-found friends in the Dayton, Ohio, area, where they graciously invited us to take part in their church activities of the weekend, speaking there three times. It was very nice.

After the evening service there, we said “goodbye” and left, making our way through the west central part of my native Buckeye state.

The evening for driving was nice. We made a food stop in Greenville and began the northern trek with which we are quite familiar, through the rural corn country in that flat land of western Ohio. We were quite alone on the highway and after an uneventful trip, we arrived home in Jonesvlle about 11:15.

After a slightly short night of sleep we loaded our luggage for our two-day stay in the Grand Rapids area at the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches’ annual conference. I have a rather methodical way of loading for trips and always set my shoes I am wearing that day on the toe pan in front of the driver’s seat. On long trips I prefer to ride in stocking feet, so prepared that way.

Our morning trip north and west was routine, leaving home at 7 o’clock. As I entered the Battle Creek area on I-94 I suddenly realized my shoes were not with me–I had left them, apparently,
in the stairwell during the loading process! Wow!

Though we wanted to arrive at the conference a little early, we had no choice but to stop and shop quickly for shoes. I’m glad nobody (I hope) noticed me in the store in my house slippers.

On our way again in about 20 minutes, we made our way west and turned north on U.S. 131 that leads into Grand Rapids. There was a light rain falling and the traffic was moderately heavy. Running in the outside lane, I set the speed control at 64 as traffic moved around me at somewhat faster speeds.

As I was approaching a short patch of roadway where the finish was rough I suddenly realized I was having trouble guiding the car. Taken aback for a moment I took a firmer grip on the wheel and realized that I could guide but it was difficult. “Oh, I just lost power steering,” I called out to Jane.

Before I could process any of this, the charging system warning light, red, flipped on and stayed on. “Oh, we’ve lost the power steering pump and the alternator,” I called. “We must have dropped that serpentine belt that drives that stuff,” I remarked.

It was daylight, a little overcast, but I dumped all the electrical I could since we were running straight off the battery. As if that weren’t bad enough, after a minute or two the engine temperature warning light came on and stayed on. I immediately dropped my speed to 50 and began thinking what to do. To add to our problem, the “check engine” light came on and never blinked out. We were in a jam!

Since we pastored in the Wayland/Hopkins area many years ago we know the area fairly well. It is quite rural. At this point we were approaching Martin where there is one service station. The problem, though, I knew by now, involved water pump, drive belt and I didn’t know what else, well over the heads of service station people.

As we limped north I decided to keep going and felt a little helpless as we moved beyond the exit ramp at our now slowed pace. “Fourteen miles to Wayland,” I called to Jane. Oh, Lord help us make it,” she replied instantly.

Realizing the engine was, by this time, running hot, I tried to take stock of our situation. “If I pull off at the next exit ramp and call in a tow truck it’ll be hours before we can get lined up for service anywhere. There goes our conference,”I thought.

I’ve done my share of engine work and knew drive belt and maybe water pump are a handful. It is not done at ordinary service stations. Trying to remember, I vaguely recalled seeing a television commercial of a dealership in Wayland, but I didn’t know what kind. I felt this was our only reasonable option. But could we make it? We struggled on north.

As the Wayland exit ramp neared we began looking hopefully for an auto dealership sign. Suddenly, we saw one– a Ford dealer. They would have to order parts and even if they could work us in there would be a lot of time involved.

Just then, on the right, a big bright “Chevrolet” sign loomed up before us. “The full size Chevy runs the 3800 engine,” I called to Jane. “They might have the right parts,” I mused.

Quickly pulling in, I ran down my door glass and called out to a couple of employees standing at the drive, “Is the service entrance around in back? “Yes,” they replied. As I pulled away I could hear some unwelcome rattling in the upper valve train, but, fortunately, nothing worse. I pulled to the back door, shut the engine down and, of course, steam greeted us everywhere around the engine compartment. “Thank the Lord,” I said we’re here!

As if from nowhere, a mechanic appeared,opening the shop’s rear door. Upon seeing steam rising from around the car, he walked around, opened the driver’s door and popped the hood latch.

He and I peered into the engine compartment. Just as I expected, the serpentine drive belt was clearly visible, a loop of it sticking defiantly up over the top pulley to the right of the fuel injectors.
We both knew, without exchanging words, that serious engine work was required to correct this.

I made my way through the back door to the cubicle where the shop foreman’s station was. Explaining my predicament, namely that I was still over thirty miles from the site of our state conference which was due to start in an hour, I was expecting him to say he would schedule me for the next day.

To my great encouragement, he apologized that he could not start on it for “another hour or so.” Perhaps it helped that this was Monday morning and they were still in their first hour of work. Jane and I were shown to the lobby where there was a comfortable waiting room. We sat down and put our heads together to take stock of our situation and the likely outcome.

After about a half hour, the foreman opened the door from the shop and stepped into the lobby. “The belt wasn’t the main problem. Your water pump gave out and let everything go slack. Naturally the belt ran off and quit driving the systems it runs.” I was grateful for his candid report and what seemed to be sincere regret.

“Do you think you can get to it today?” I asked. “Oh, yeah,” he responded. ” We should have you out of here in early afternoon. We have the parts.” He then showed me the estimate. Water pump, drive belt, a few miscellaneous items and labor showed clearly on his “Mr. Goodwrench” form. I knew the bill would be stiff as in the transverse mounted engines like G.M.’s 3800, there isn’t much room to work and precise, clean work is required. The estimate total was just under $479. I didn’t think that was bad.

Before he left I quizzed him about any evidence of damage I may have caused by running the engine hot. “No,” he didn’t think it sounded bad. Praise the Lord.

We settled back in our chairs and I pulled out my New Testament to look over a passage I had been reading in the Sermon on the Mount. In a few moments a young woman, nicely dressed, stepped into the lobby and took a chair to our left. We greeted each other politely. I set my Bible aside and noticing her pleasant appearance wondered if we could engage her in a meaningful conversation.

“…you have a vehicle in for repair?” I asked her. “Yes, my Chevy pick-up. It’s in for an oil change and check-up,” she replied.

We continued to exchange comments about our vehicles which led to our relating the desire to get to our destination. In a few moments she pulled out her cell phone and offered it to us. “Do you need to call anyone?, she offered. I thanked her and explained that the shop had allowed us to call our son, Kevin, who was on his way into the conference from the north. He would be able to pass the information along to any of the other family members who might wonder what happened to us.

Slowly, we were able to work our way around to spiritual things. We related that years before we had pastored the Baptist church there in Wayland and the first building had been built there on our watch. We learned that the lady, “Rosemary,” was just months older than Ken, our eldest son. Jane related family facts and provided some pictures for Rosemary to see.

God seemed to open her mind and heart to us and we continued to talk for most of an hour. She had a nominal knowledge of spiritual things and mentioned her church which was the local “St. Teresa” with which we were acquainted.

In a few minutes we were able to provide her with some good literature and an encouragement to attend “our church” there in Wayland. She seemed interested in doing so.

At that point the foreman reentered and said, “Rosemary, your car is ready.” She came over to where we were, a few feet from where she had been sitting. She and Jane exchanged hugs. I looked at her and touching her left arm said, “Rosemary, let today be the day you trust Christ in a new way. I’ll be praying for you.”
She seemed deeply moved as she turned to make her way across the lobby to the billing office.

At that point, Jane and I tood stock of what we ought to do for lunch. Rosemary had left the office window and I walked over to the clerk there and told her, “I’m sure it will be some time yet before our Buick is ready. We’ll go across the street to eat and we’ll be back in plenty of time to get the car.” She nodded her understanding and we left for lunch.

After about forty-five minues we made our way back across the busy 135th Street there and into the lobby again. Jane sat down and I stepped over to the billing office again and was surprised to hear the girl say, “Mr. Pierpont, your car is ready,” as she approached me with the bill. Just as I was paying the bill, I heard voices and was startled to see Rosemary, this time with her mother in tow. They had come back together to meet us.

To summarize this event, the Lord had allowed us to have car trouble at the precise time He did, including the time we took out to get replacements for my forgotten shoes, in order to meet Rosemary. Jane had obtained her full name and address and we are communicating with her in an effort to see Christ take over her life. We are confident He will.

Our faithful “Tubby” Buick is no worse for the wear and God provided for the repair costs in a marvelous way. We are sure He ordained this “trouble” for His glory. In that light, “Tubby’s ordeal” was merely mild but so very meaningful


  1. Dad; I have such warm memories of your routines, and of your witnessing and doing good for people whenever you found someone who was in trouble. It warms my heart to think that you have inspired generations of your children and grand-children to live the same way.

    I love you so much. I love to read your writing.

    Love … Kenny

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