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The Good Stuff: Jesus took the wheel

Teen given a shot at redemption after being arrested for being in backseat of stolen car that crashed into a church sanctuary
A police officer walks through a hole in a wall that ripped open when a car thief crashed at...
A police officer walks through a hole in a wall that ripped open when a car thief crashed at the end of a police chase.(KSLA)
Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 11:24 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 8, 2021 at 11:25 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — If you ask Jesus to take the wheel enough times, don’t be surprised when He does.

For a Shreveport mother named Tyneka, those prayers were answered at a time when she least expected it.

“He’s in church,” she laughed when thinking about the mysterious way she feels Jesus worked to get her 13-year-old son in church.

He was in the backseat of a stolen car in April of this year that crashed through the front doors of New Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church in Shreveport.

A stolen car sits in the sanctuary of New Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church shortly after a...
A stolen car sits in the sanctuary of New Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church shortly after a car thief crashed into the church while running from police.(Pastor Danny Mitchell, Jr.)

“When you have a track record with God and see what He can do, this stuff here is just a building,” said Pastor Danny Mitchell Jr., looking over the heavily damaged sanctuary that includes an entire middle row of pews, an interior wall and front doors of the main building.

Just a few hours after he finished Sunday services and church members had gone home, Shreveport police say, two older teenagers stole a car from a nearby gas station and later picked up two 13-year-olds, one of those Tyneka’s son.

After hearing that his church had been struck by a car whose driver was fleeing from police, Mitchell raced to the scene.

“I said, ‘Where’s the car?’, and the officer said, ‘There it is.’,” pointing toward the middle of the church’s sanctuary.

Mitchell said his jaw nearly hit the ground when he saw how far the car had traveled inside his church.

“I’m not going to say that all of my thoughts were holy,” a shocked Mitchell recalled.

After the crash, the four teens took off running but didn’t get far. The four accused of being involved were arrested and eventually given dates to appear before a judge in juvenile court.

“I am a witness, no matter how far out you may be with God, all things are possible,’ stated Mitchell, which explains why he decided to go to court to see if he could help those teens.

“I’ve shown up today to let them know they’re forgiven,” Mitchell stated just moments before walking into the courtroom.

He says he was unable to talk to the families, but he was able to talk to the prosecuting attorney to let him know he wanted to help these young teens, especially being at such a make-or-break time in their lives.

Pastor Danny Mitchell, Jr visits with a young Shreveport teen who is now working off his...
Pastor Danny Mitchell, Jr visits with a young Shreveport teen who is now working off his community service hours at the church.(KSLA)

“The streets will esteem you and say, ‘Hey man, keep up the good work’,” said Mitchell, commenting how the streets are constantly trying to pull today’s youths away from their families.

He continued, “That’s why our kids are in the streets, because that is where they find their value system, in the streets.”

Tyneka says she was grateful to both Pastor Mitchell and the prosecutor in the case who are allowing her son to work off part of his sentence with community service at the church.

A couple weeks later, the 13-year-old reported to his first day of community service at the church where he was greeted by an optimistic Pastor Mitchell.

“This is the first day of a beautiful relationship for the rest of our lives,” smiled Mitchell to the young man now wearing an court-ordered ankle monitor.

Pastor Danny Mitchell, Jr meets with church members on Sundays in a much smaller room in the...
Pastor Danny Mitchell, Jr meets with church members on Sundays in a much smaller room in the back of the church.(KSLA)

His mother was just as thrilled to have her son in church, and off the streets.

“I’ve been praying for it.”

And that’s the very thing Pastor Mitchell preaches about from the pulpit each and every Sunday inside New Elizabeth Missionary Baptist, even if it is from a much smaller back room on campus until their main sanctuary can be repaired at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars.

“I want to show them what can happen when you put your heart and trust in the power of God and allow God to lead, rule and direct their lives,” Mitchell concluded.

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