Archdeacon Michael: When my car foiled a bank robbery

The Ven Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster
The Ven Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster
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I have never had a ‘flash car’. My most interesting car was the one I had when I was in South Africa.  It was a large 14-year-old Nissan Skyline and indestructible.

It coped with the potholed roads in the townships and the dust roads in the countryside. It failed only once and that was a good thing.

It had been stolen and used as a get-away car in a bank robbery. The starter motor refused to work, and the thieves were caught!

One day I was driving an English priest to a nearby city on a straight road with only seven bends in 100 miles and no traffic.

As we were travelling, I turned to the priest (a ‘petrol-head’) and asked, “Would you like to take the wheel?”

“Yes, please!” he replied with his eyes glinting at the thought of driving on such a straight empty road.

I began to lift the steering wheel off its column while noting the colour drain from his face. (I duly pulled over to let him have a drive, after I had stopped laughing.)

Not surprisingly with the quality of the roads and vehicles, the accident rate in South Africa was very high.

We got into the habit of praying for ‘travelling mercies’ for people as they set out on their way.

It is a habit I have kept to especially with our myriad motorways in Lancashire.

The Bible is full of prayers for travel, especially through dangerous places or to special places. To ask for God’s protection when out on the road is a good thing to do.

A few months ago, I spent time with the Lancashire Police’s traffic division, during their ‘Safe Drive Stay Alive’ campaign. It is a sobering programme, highlighting the need for care on the roads and the human costs involved in accidents.

It certainly has changed my attitude and behaviour, as I hope it did the hundreds of young people attending.

We need to properly maintain our cars, even old ones with character like mine. We also need to pray for people to be safe on the roads. And we also all need to take responsibility for our own actions; to travel safely and drive carefully.

This threefold dynamic of ‘Care, Prayer, Action’ needs to be at the heart of all our journeying, no matter how straight or winding the road.

In fact, you could say it’s not a bad approach to have to life itself!