Apostolic Church of Indianapolis buys gas for Hoosiers
More than a hundred motorists ventured out into the freezing air early Saturday morning, forming lines stretching from 38th Street well past 46th Street, in hopes of receiving free gas from Kingdom Apostolic Ministries.
The church, located on East 38th Street, held a free gasoline giveaway from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. — or while supplies last — at the Marathon Station at the corner of East 38th Street and the Emerson Ave.
With inflation and gasoline prices reaching record highs, the awareness event generated great interest. Motorists started queuing as early as 6 a.m.
“It was beyond our expectations,” said senior pastor Bishop Lambert W. Gates Sr. “When I looked and saw, I said, ‘Lord, have mercy. In what we are we on board?’ But at the same time, I said we’re doing this for God, we’re just going to do this until the time is up.
In these difficult times, the need is great.
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“We are coming out of a pandemic, hopefully we are now becoming endemic. People have been through so much on top of economic stress,” Gates added. “We just wanted to let them know that someone cared about us. And, at the heart of that care, we hope that God’s love is working in us.”
Kingdom Apostolic Ministries, formerly Mt. Zion Apostolic Church, invited community members to line up — with no appointment, donation or additional information needed — and have $20 of gasoline injected into their cars.
The church planned to spend about $5,000 on Saturday in a bid to ease the burden of high gas prices, Outreach Minister Denise Moore said. Members also prayed with motorists as they waited at gas pumps.
In the process, church members learned about the lives and challenges of those who accepted their offer of free gasoline. Some, Moore said, are homeless and living in their cars. In addition to gas, others also need food aid. The church has an open pantry to meet this need.
“People come with different needs, but today we want to make sure they get gas,” she said. “They can use that money to buy something else today. They can use the money they would have spent on gas to buy something they need at home, like food, Pampers or milk.”
Nationally, Americans are paying about $4.20 a gallon for regular gasoline at the pump Saturday, while premium gasoline costs an average of $4.88 a gallon, according to AAA. That’s up from $2.87 and $3.46, respectively, a year ago.
The average national gas price fell slightly over the week, falling by pennies. AAA said lower gas demand, as well as an increase in total inventory, contributed to lower prices.
But for many, gas is still simply too expensive.
On Saturday, several motorists ran out of gas – or were nearly exhausted – as they waited in long queues to get to the gas giveaway at the Marathon station. Church members rushed to find a can of petrol they could fill after hearing about a motorist pushing his car. They then walked the line, encountering others in a similar condition.
Lakhwant Singh, the petrol station owner, said the church came to him with the idea of donating prepaid petrol to the community. Normally open 24 hours a day, Singh closed his station and store to other customers for a few hours so the church could serve as many people as possible.
“I don’t have enough gas, so I called my gas company to send me some more,” Singh said. A big truck had arrived to fill the pumps.
Singh estimated that the church purchased gasoline for about 75 vehicles in the first hour of the giveaway and 140 by noon. He instructed an employee to bring water and coffee to waiting motorists.
“I’m one of them,” he said. “I need help too.”
In Indiana, where prices are below the national average, Hoosiers pay about $4.11 for regular gasoline and $4.80 for premium gasoline.
In the Indianapolis area, regular gasoline costs drivers about $4.06, down from $3.65 last month and $2.77 a year ago. President Joe Biden has announced daily releases of the country’s emergency oil reserves in a bid to reduce gas prices.
Saturday’s gasoline distribution is not the first organized by the Apostolic Ministries of the Kingdom. Moore said the church held similar giveaways in 2017 and 2018, topping up tanks in response to gas prices at the time.
Due to widespread demand this time, the church capped the giveaway at $20 per vehicle to spread the aid. They hoped to serve between 300 and 400 vehicles.
“People who came out today were very, very grateful — grateful for the gas,” Moore said. “And as you can see the need is great because the line is around the block.”
Seated in a line were Carl Harris and his wife, Dejuana Harris.
The couple arrived at the station around 8:30 a.m., joining those who were already waiting. They had been in the line for hours when they ran out of gas.
Other motorists rushed to help, offering to use a chain to pull their car to the gas station. “I need it to come and go…” Dejuana Harris said of the gas waiting for her. “It was a blessing.”
With a petrol can in hand, church members got to the couple before other motorists needed to pull the car to the station.
Shirwanda Boone-Harris, who had joined the line at least two hours before the start of the distribution, was far ahead of them in the queue.
Boone-Harris said she saw the event on TV news and went out to get gas to celebrate her birthday.
She was not surprised by the turnout.
“A lot of people need help. The gas level is high. They need gas,” she said. “I’m sad for people who don’t have jobs, who can’t afford them, and who have children. It’s just sad that we’re in this difficult situation.”