Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Church That Puts the Message Into Action . . .

My drive home from Clearwater was eventful, to say the least – but it was truly one of those “God is in control” situations that I need from time to time.


Alan Scott is the Lead Pastor at Cumberland Community Church in Smyrna, Georgia (this is a rotten picture because he is always moving).  He grew up in my hometown and we have known each other forever – his dad was my Little League coach in the late 60s.  He went into ministry more than 25 years ago, first as an evangelist with his sister and brother-in-law.  I had lost track of him until about a year ago when we reconnected on Facebook, and I surprised him when I showed up in his congregation on the way back from Clearwater last year.

This time, he knew I was coming.  I had just cleared downtown Atlanta and was only a few miles from the church when I glanced at my instrument panel and noticed that my temperature gauge was rising rapidly.  I pulled off at the next exit and shut down for a few minutes, hoping that the computer would reset and all would be well (I know so much about engines).  Not a chance – so I decided it would be better to be stuck in the Cumberland parking lot than along I-75 on a Sunday and tried to limp the rest of the way.


And I made it, though pictures weren’t on my mind when I got there (I took this one a year ago).  I went into church, sat down, and for an hour and a half was almost able to get my mind off my truck dilemma – the service was absolutely amazing.  Alan’s message was powerful, and I happened to be there on a Sunday when they closed the service with praise music from four different bands (grunge, rock, country, and bluegrass).  Wow . . .

After the service, Alan came over to greet me and I told him about the truck.  He took me to meet his friend Eric Mulville, who is a chef at Maggiano’s Little Italy but also knows more than a little bit about cars.  Eric came out with me and looked at my truck – as soon as the hood went up he started using words that made no sense to me like “tensioner”. 

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Then he showed me that my serpentine belt (in the old days, we would have called this a fanbelt) looked like spaghetti (this is what it looked like after we finally got it off), and a pulley in this tensioner had cracked and seized, causing all of this.

So now I had a diagnosis and needed a cure – but all of the International Truck dealers in Atlanta are closed on Sunday.  So we retired to Alan’s office, where Eric started calling parts stores.  Found a belt quickly, but a tensioner wasn’t available until Monday, so we were going to have to scrounge for a replacement pulley.  Then came the best part of this story – Eric told me, “I know someone who can fix this for you for about 50 bucks.”  My response was “If he can get me on the road this afternoon, I’ll give him a hundred and consider myself lucky.”  So he called his 17-year-old son, Loren – and started the conversation with “Do you want to make some money?”


While Loren went out to pick up the new serpentine belt, we went out to get some lunch at a nearby Schlotsky’s Deli (left to right, Alan’s wife Sherry, Alan, Eric’s wife Gloria, and Eric) – where I discovered one of the coolest things I have ever seen.  But I’ll save that for tomorrow . . .

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By the time we got back to Cumberland, Loren already had the old belt and the tensioner off the truck and was looking for a wiring diagram.  So we went back to Alan’s office to search for a wiring diagram, a pulley, and an open store that had one.

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A NAPA store about five miles away looked promising.  They didn’t have the exact pulley, but we went into the back and found one that was exactly the right size, just designed for a different vehicle.  Loren and a nice NAPA guy worked together to put the tensioner back together, and then the NAPA guy jumped into his car and came out to Cumberland to help us make sure we routed the serpentine belt correctly!  Then Loren finished up my repair job and I was ready to head for home.


There is one more important person in this story – the guy at left in this photo is Loren’s friend, Taylor.  Taylor acted as Loren’s chauffeur – because Loren knows everything about cars but does not have a driver’s license yet.  Taylor and I stood around and watched mostly – he may be one of the few people who knows less about cars than I do.

If my truck had broken down practically anyplace else but where it did, I would have been stuck until Monday.  But because I was able to get to Cumberland, I was able to get it fixed, meet some new people, and enjoy a great church service.  Eric, Loren, and Taylor gave up their Sunday afternoon for someone they had never met – and in doing so, put Alan’s message into action.  If you live near Atlanta and are looking for a growing church that lives its faith, I can recommend one.

Thanks guys!


  1. I knew there was something honest, caring about you. A fellow believer!! Julie

  2. hey... great write up, Greg. thanks.
    glad all of this worked out for you... glad God worked it all out. very cool.

  3. greg...
    posted this on our cumberland fb page