Weeks after one of their vans was burnt to a crisp, Christ’s Church Administrator Mac Hoover came into the church to find a voicemail on his office phone.
Outside, the charred remains of the van still sat — shattered windows and debris littering the ground, the interior reduced to ash and twisted steel.
So it was a welcome surprise for Hoover to hear on his answering machine that Andrea Peterson, the general manager of Weatherly Inn Assisted Living in Tacoma, had a proposition for the Federal Way church.
Weatherly Inn had recently purchased a new van themselves, and was gearing up to sell their old activity bus — a 15-passenger shuttle van the facility used to take seniors on scenic drives and trips to the zoo or the theater. The van ran well and was in good upkeep with only 100,000 miles on the odometer.
A few Saturdays before, Peterson, who lives in Federal Way, had read an article in The Mirror about the church’s loss of their van.
“I just felt horrible for that church,” Peterson said on Tuesday. “I thought, ‘What a big loss.’”
The story touched her, and the idea occurred to her later on that they could simply donate their used van to the church instead of selling it. Administration at Weatherly Inn signed off on the idea, which sounded good to the folks at Christ’s Church, too.
On Oct. 11, three members of the church leadership drove to Tacoma to pick up the van and give thanks for the donation, which allows them to keep up the pace of their activities taking school kids to retreats and shuttling church members around.
“In our worldview, God’s a part of everything. He orchestrates the details, and obviously, I think, gave us a blessing through this whole time,” said Jeff Moorehead, lead pastor. “That’s an encouragement to our congregation.”
The Weatherly Inn folks walked the members of Christ’s Church through operating the van, transferred a few documents and handed the keys off to the van’s new owners.
“We’re grateful that there are kind folks in our community who recognize the need, and meet it so quickly,” said Jim Low, assistant pastor. “We’re extremely grateful for that kindness.”
The new van even includes a feature the burned van didn’t have — a lift that will allow wheelchair users to hop on the bus too.
“As a care pastor, I know the wheelchair ramp will be a great tool to transport some of our elderly folks,” Low said.
Christ’s Church lost one of their vans last month after someone, or something, caused the van, parked in the church parking lot overlooking Dash Point Road, to erupt into flames. It followed other vandalism the church has experienced recently, including broken windows, theft and the targeting of gas and catalytic converters from their other vehicles.
The burned-up van itself is in a sorry state, and Christ’s Church has spent weeks jumping through the hoops to get it removed.
“It’s been a big hassle trying to get everything approved so they can tow it out of there,” Hoover said. “That’s hard on the neighborhood, and probably harder on the neighborhood than it is on us.”
The incineration is still under investigation, but Moorehead said they have been told police have identified a person of interest.
Aside from their obvious dismay, having one of their vans burned down was concerning for the broader community, Moorehead said — especially with Sacajawea Middle School right next door.
But if he had an opportunity to sit down with whoever caused the van to go up in flames, Moorehead said they’d like to offer a different approach to life.
“We’d talk to them about the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, how it can change your heart from the inside out, and how it can give you a purpose in life that is different than what, maybe you’re trying to find, pursuing the bad side of life,” Moorehead said. “We’d probably say, while we forgive you, there’s also … consequences that come with the things we do, and sometimes those consequences are helpful for us to turn a new leaf.”