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Calvin's Car

Johnny Jones, July 1992

This story began in the '70's, when my brother-in-law, Calvin, was a sophomore in college. At that time he had desperate need of an automobile, and no way to get one.

The parents of his best friend, seeing his need, gave him their old car. But even an old car is a tremendous gift. Calvin asked, "How can I ever repay you for this?"

"Give a car to someone else someday," they replied.

Fast forward now to the 90's. Bill Lane told us in 1991, before Bryan turned 18, about the importance of summer jobs for engineering students. I all but covered my ears. That meant that the son I was preparing to send to college would not spend another summer home. I couldn't bear to think about it. But Bill was right. That first summer he got a job on campus, so he didn't need a car. But the second year he wanted to work in industry.

When Bryan went in to Career Services in March of his sophomore year, he was told that most of the good jobs were already filled. "But wait a minute," the administrator said. "We just got something in today from Compaq."

Compaq. I knew the company from the time we first looked at computers years ago. I remembered them as a Cadillac of the computer industry, a little company that succeeded by specializing in small, high quality PCs.

Within a short time of faxing his resume, Bryan had an interview. I knew he was being seriously considered when Bryan said four people talked to him. Soon after, they offered him a summer job.

There were a couple of problems remaining. He had no place to live near Compaq, north of Houston, and he had no car. Bryan knew a friend from Campus Crusade who had an interview with Compaq, so that was a possibility. But we still could not afford to buy him a car. If he bought one, that would squander the money he needed for next year's tuition.

That's when Calvin stepped in. He told Bryan, "I'll give you my car." Wow! Giving someone a car, even an old car, is a tremendous gift. It turns out Calvin's car, an '81 Chevette, had only 62,000 miles on it. That made it lower in mileage than either of ours. Calvin bought the Chevette new, and took good care of it.

Chip and Bryan flew to Alabama to get the Chevette, then drove it across to Houston. It whizzed down I-10, never giving them a minute's trouble. They drove it to church the next morning, out to eat, and then to Rice to get Bryan's things. They drove it north to Tomball, where Bryan's friend, who got the job, had secured the last available apartment from the rental service which works with Compaq employees.

There the car died in the parking lot. Chip and Bryan pushed it five feet into a parking space and called AAA. If it had to break down, this was the ideal time and place.

When you look at all the circumstances that fit together like pieces of a puzzle, you see God's hand. When I said, "Bryan, you were certainly fortunate that Compaq called Rice just at the time you needed a job," he replied, "God is just looking after me, as usual."

I don't know what other conclusion you can draw. To pay back a debt of years ago, Calvin offered his car at the time Bryan needed it. Bryan's car (Sancho) quit, not to leave him stranded in the swamps of Louisiana or threatened on a busy Houston freeway, but in the parking lot of the apartment complex with a roommate who could give him a ride to work.

I don't think that's luck. I think God is just looking after us. God can be trusted with the details of our lives. And I am so glad.