By Chris Meehan
About 6:00 on a Saturday evening in late January, missionaries Rus Lyons, Peter Putzier and Joe Bulger were standing at a gas station in tiny Hartford, Kentucky—64 miles from Evansville. They’d walked 36 miles over three days of hitchhiking and sharing the gospel with people in small towns. The trip had been one of their toughest—at least in terms of catching rides.
Previous trips had always brought them home in time to open the Lord’s Day with their fellow missionaries, to tell stories and rejoice together in what the Lord had done. But it was already too late for that. Darkness had set in, limiting their options. They’d learned by experience that it’s practically impossible to hitchhike after dark.
They had been exchanging text messages with Nick Holovaty in Evansville about their predicament. “Call Evan Reinhardt,” he wrote. As the missionaries sat down to open the Lord’s Day, Nick led them in a prayer for their brothers, asking God to bring them home by 7:45.
With hope and a prayer, Rus dialed Evan. Evan is a 29-year-old Christian who lives in Owensboro, Kentucky, a town about halfway between Evansville and Hartford. On a previous hitchhiking trip, he had stopped his truck to pick up Nick and two other missionaries, telling them that he felt his truck was a gift from God and that he wanted to do something good with it.
To their surprise, Evan was already in Hartford, visiting a friend about a quarter mile from where the missionaries were. He eagerly agreed to wrap up his visit and drive them as far as his gas supply would allow.
When Nick found out that Evan was driving the missionaries, he called and invited Evan to come to Evansville and spend the night with the missionaries. Evan happily jettisoned his evening plans and drove the missionaries all the way back. “You gotta chase after God,” he said.
They arrived in Evansville just after 7:45, after most of the missionaries had eaten. Everybody was eager to meet Evan and hear stories from the trip. (The previous evening, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the hitchhikers had prayed with three college students for baptism in the Holy Spirit.) As he ate, Evan kept pausing to comment on the food: “This is amazing! Five-star restaurant quality!”
The next morning, Nick and Rus showed Evan how to make a Scriptural meditation, and Evan made one before he needed to leave to make it to his church service. Before he left, he commented on the fellowship he’d experienced in that short time, telling Nick, “This is what everybody wants, but not many people have it.”
He hopped into his truck, waved and took off—but stopped after 20 feet, stuck his head out the window and thanked the missionaries one more time.
“We’ve met lots of people like Evan in our missionary work,” Nick says, “Christians who are hungry for fellowship and willing to chase after God, even if that means driving 60 miles to be with us for the Lord’s Day. The Lord is connecting the Christians in the Mississippi Valley. He is building a network of believers.”