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Changing Lives

… One car at a time! A group of men in Calgary have launched an amazing ministry to help families in need. The "MARS" guys fix old cars and give them away.

"Greasy hands can build the Kingdom too," said Rob Robinson, founder of an amazing new ministry in the city called MARS (Men's Auto Repair Service) geared to help people in need.

Changing Lives
MARS guys and "Venus" gals at work.

"God calls some to minister with clean hands," Robinson observed, "but for MARS—we delight in getting in there and getting our hands dirty!" Robinson is seeing his dream of engaging men who have skills and experience in repairing cars to make a difference in the lives of people who can't afford car repairs and maintenance.

"We are not just fixing cars—we are building the Kingdom of God through practical acts of kindness and servant-hood," noted Walter Twiddy, Executive Director of NeighbourLink and part of the MARS Executive Committee.

Last year, MARS set out on its mission to repair cars and to accept donations of older cars, fix them up and give them to families in need, absolutely free of charge.

A crew of men descend on a vehicle in Robinson's garage and give the vehicle 'the once over'—everything from tune-up, to brakes, tires, paint, exhaust—whatever a vehicle needs, these 'auto repair guys' get it done, and have a blast doing it!

To date, six vehicles have been processed including four that have been given free to families.

While MARS is currently anchored at First Church of the Nazarene, the vision is to have this ministry expand to other men in other churches.

"Men in every church are looking for ways to help build the Kingdom," Robinson said. "MARS is a wonderful opportunity to get men engaged with hands-on ministry, and of course, there are lots of people in the city who need auto repairs and can't afford them."

Although MARS is designed to mobilize men and their skills, women are also involved with the finer things of this ministry like hosting the breakfasts and making care packages for the families to go with every vehicle given away.

"When we saw how excited and dedicated the 'men from MARS' are," said Carrie Millman, "and the difference they're making in people's lives, the 'women from Venus' stepped up and are helping too—cookies, brownies and coffee just seem to make auto repairs go smoother and faster."

MARS has several strategies in place for raising support to fix vehicles free of charge for people. They have held a couple of breakfasts, a highly successful 'Car Bash' during the Calgary Stampede and a car wash. They also collect Canadian Tire money.

MARS plans to do oil changes and minor repairs for people who then can make a charitable donation to this automotive ministry, which in turn is used to buy parts to repair vehicles.

Here's how you can help: Catch the vision for building the Kingdom of God with greasy hands! Decide to bless a single mom so she can take her children to Sunday School next week. Donate your Canadian Tire money. Donate your vehicle—older minivans are ideal. Donate repair supplies such as oil, good tools, safety equipment, etc. Have MARS change your oil and filters and make a generous charitable donation to buy repair parts. Sponsor a repair for one family—from $300 to $500. Get your hands dirty by joining the MARS team (free T-shirt!). Refer anyone who might wish to donate repair supplies. E-mail for further information.

Originally published in CityLightNews, August 2005.




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