Designed to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus in an arena packed with superstar athletes and thousands of screaming fans, the Miles of Smiles ministry is the brainchild of Tim Carrie, an Indianapolis resident and life-long racing enthusiast who now serves as the ministry’s director. Had it not been for an unexpected phone call and a very special love story, however, the idea behind the program might never have been sparked.
On the day the phone call came, Tim was thrilled to hear the voice of his old high school classmate, Jeff Zwart, on the other end of the line. It had been years since the two men had talked last. After college, Jeff had gone on to medical school and become a doctor and the natural busyness of their individual lives had caused the two friends to drift apart over time. But now on the phone, they wasted no time in catching up. During the course of their conversation, Jeff confessed he had been battling leukemia and was now in remission for a second time. It was, in fact, the sufficiency of God’s grace in his own life, he said, that had prompted him to reach out to old friends to see how the others were faring in their personal walks with the Lord.
Along with a passion for Jesus, the other common bond between the two men was their love for racing. Like Tim, Jeff was a diehard racing enthusiast and quickly admitted that he longed to take his wife, Adrienne, and their three children to Indianapolis to the racetrack he’d loved visiting in his youth. So it just seemed natural that before the call ended, Tim would promise Jeff a special day at the track. They scheduled it for the following May.
Prior to that call, Tim had been praying for months for a way to combine his love for God with his love for motorsports. In his heart he knew instantly that Jeff’s call would play a part in that prayer’s answer. As that first spark of knowing and inspiration ignited, the plan began to form in his mind.
“I felt the Lord calling me to bring people to the race track and impact them for Christ, but at the time I didn’t have any means or connection to make that happen,” said Tim. While it was Jeff’s phone call that pushed Tim to set the plan in motion, Tim soon realized he was still wholly dependent on God’s guidance if the plan was ever to be realized. But now, thanks to Jeff’s call, he at least had a plan and a mission. And he had enough faith to know God would carry him the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, sufficient grace was carrying the Zwart family again through yet another relapse and then through the realization that Jeff wasn’t going to be able to beat it. Through those final days of Jeff’s life, grace strengthened his and Adrienne’s marriage. Together, the couple prayed their way through each obstacle and held steadfast to Christ’s presence in every moment. That December, Jeff went home to be with the Christ he cherished so.
“Jeff cared deeply about the spiritual needs of his family, friends, patients, and colleagues,”
And because of that unexpected phone call and the story of how Christ’s love had impacted Jeff’s life so completely, Tim felt he’d been left a legacy, too. “When Jeff passed,” he said, “I knew I had to do something to reach people for Christ. Jeff would have wanted that.”
Allowing his faith to lead him, Tim eventually came across Kingdom Racing, a ministry combining racing and sharing the love of Christ. He knew immediately what he had to do. Finalizing his plans and approaching Kingdom Racing founder George Del Canto, Tim joined the Kingdom Racing team the following year, founding the Miles of Smiles ministry. Since then, Miles of Smiles has ministered to and hosted over 50 individuals and families at race tracks nationwide, offering them hope and comfort. And as promised, Tim brought Adrienne and her three children to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as one of the first Miles of Smiles guests.
“I love the way Kingdom Racing took a venue that they already loved and decided to be a light for Christ right there,” Adrienne said following their visit to the speedway. “Our Miles of Smiles experience was one that my kids will always remember. They still talk about seeing the car in the garage and eating cheese curls up in the suite. And of course, it does my heart good to know that my husband had a part in inspiring this outreach.”
It was God’s love and sufficient grace that carried Jeff and Adrienne through a devastating experience. And it was an unexpected phone call to an old friend that sparked an idea that would enable that message of love and grace to be shared and experienced again and again.
To learn more about Kingdom Racing, visit www.kingdomracing.net
Tim Carrie is available for interviews. Contact Diane Morrow firstname.lastname@example.org