As a writer for the Journey, Christian newspaper, I get to interview some of the remarkable men and women God positioned here in the upstate to accomplish his purposes. The stories they tell of the modern day marvels and miracles God brought about to provide for their ministries when all else looked grim encourage and delight me.
God is just so not stodgy. He puts together the most unlikely of companions and circumstance.
For example, there’s the story Reid Lehman, CEO of Miracle Hill, SC largest provider of homeless services, tells in his book God Wears His Own Watch about Louise Smith, fearless stock-car racing woman.
Louise’s spirited reputation for fast driving and outrunning the police on the back roads of South Carolina caught the attention back in the 40s of racing promoter Bill France. France was looking for ways to fire up interest in what would become NASCAR. Although Louise had never been to a race either as a spectator or a participant, France convinced her to enter one at the local speedway. Her instructions: Drive fast. Stop if you see a red flag.
No one told her to stop and go to the pit if she saw a checkered flag though. So when she rounded the track, coming in third place, and saw a checkered flag, she kept on going. It wasn’t until someone waved a red flag that they were able to pull her in.
Another popular story about her is about the time she borrowed her husband’s new Ford coupe and drove down to Daytona to “watch” the races. Apparently the temptation from the sidelines was too great so Louise entered the race and ended up wrecking the car. When she got home she told her husband the car had broken down. Thing was, the news had already made it home and the picture of her and her husband’s wrecked car were on the front page of the paper he held in his hand.
Known for both her speed and her feisty spirit, Louise Smith went on to become a legend on the track and was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
According to Reid Lehman, Louise had another passion, and that was to help establish a home for needy children. She had noted the changed lives in some of the boys who used to steal from her husband’s auto salvage yard, but who now, under the care of the Children’s Home, were growing and learning.
Problem was, the Home was filled beyond capacity—some of the boys had to sleep in the back of a truck! So when Louise saw the effort to build a new facility, she took it upon herself to provide the concrete block.
She somehow managed to get a spot on the TV show “Queen for a Day” (Oh how I faintly but fondly remember seeing whoever was chosen from the audience get cloaked and crowned and imagined my mom!)
Lehman writes that when the game show host asked Louise what she wanted to win, she said, “Concrete block to build a Children’s Home back in South Carolina.”
And in true Louise Smith style, “She returned to Greenville with funds to buy all the block needed for the building.”—Lehman.
Don’t you love it!
A ministry in dire need of housing + A stock car racing woman+ A pilfered salvage yard+ A queen for a day TV show+ Concrete for a new home=
An outrageously wonderful God.
So hoping someone out there today will take heart and be assured as the psalmist says, I know the Lord hears when I call. Psalm 4:3