Engine Story – Summer 2016 Recap

Engine Story – Summer 2016 Recap

July 2016


While on outreach in late July, the Media Van was starting to overheat again. John surmised that it was the old carburetor giving them trouble. With the carburetor overheating and stalling on the street, the Media Van wasn’t as effective as it could be. Worries of long and dangerous rides, stalling on the freeway, or in the middle of an intersection plagued John for days, until he had to put the summer season on hold while the Van could be repaired.

John called in a mechanic he knew, and he concluded that the carburetor had never been cleaned, since it had sat, unused, for years in a lot, before John could use it. The mechanic offered to take it out and clean it, and John later got the call that it was all done while he was out of the garage.


When he returned, John started up the engine immediately, only to hear something else rattling around deep inside. He shut it off and quickly called the mechanic back. After another overview, he diagnosed many possible problems: a spark plug break, a cam shaft snapped, a push rod break… they all sounded terrible. Either way, the problem now was the engine, with an unknown broken piece rattling around. The mechanic said it would set John back quite a bit.


This was, of course, disappointing, but before he would have to pay to have the Media Van towed into another garage and have the engine completely pulled out, John called in another mechanic he knew well to get a second opinion.


The mechanic sent out one of his guys and he arrived with a stethoscope to better understand the origin of the unknown piece. He found the source of the trouble in Cylinder One. The second mechanic surmised that the only problem was the loose piece in the cylinder, but it would still be necessary to take the engine out and apart to retrieve it… hardly cheap or practical for an old vehicle like Big Blue.


Later, John ran into an old friend at Elmbrook Church who reminded him of yet another mechanic, one they’d met on outreach in Mayville a while ago. They had asked to be called at any time an issue arose. Luckily for John, she had the phone number.




Image by John Jones


When the third mechanic finally arrived to look at the engine, he found the same problem, the rattling piece in Cylinder One. There wouldn’t be any running the engine, since it was entirely possible that the piece was damaging the cylinder walls. So, the mechanic proposed a solution: he would use his own stethoscope tipped with a microscope to go in and find the piece, and if the piece was metallic, he could use a magnet to safely remove it through the spark plug hole. The only condition… John would have to cut out a portion of the Media Van floor under the spark plug hole so he could get at it.


And so John did just that, and he counted it as a blessing since it wouldn’t mean removing the entire engine.


After a few days, the mechanic called John, and explained that while John was out, he’d come and gotten the piece out. “While you had your carburetor taken out and fixed, a loose screw got knocked into the cylinder in the transfer. Your engine works as good as new.” Praise the Lord!


The Van was out of commission for at least three weeks – not fun for outreach opportunities. But while this was happening, lots of riots had broken out in the Sherman Park area and shootings stopped everyone in their tracks. God may have used this little rogue screw to keep the Van and team from getting caught up in the middle of a chaotic attack.


John recounts this story as a way of God “connecting the dots” in his life. If he’d never gone back to Elmbrook that day, he may not have met his old friend, who then connected him to the mechanic, who he’d met before on outreach at a church in Mayville, who had also volunteered to help at any time the MMM needed it.


“So God was in it all along, I just had to not lose faith. And so, we were up and running again…”


God certainly moves in unexpected ways, yet is always in control. Looking back at the way He works in our lives, it’s humbling, encouraging, and inspiring to see what He does in and through us.