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Lyft drivers spread the Gospel with ride-hailing ministries

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Luis Andrés Henao, Associated Press

Released Sunday, November 20, 2022 at 2:02 PM EST

Last updated Sunday 20 November 2022 2:03 PM EST

NEW YORK (AP) — One is an ordained pastor in Brooklyn and the other is a single mother and author of children’s books in New Jersey. Both are Lyft drivers. Both share the word of God as traveling preachers.

Reverends Kenneth Drayton and Tomica Reid seek to inspire passengers through spiritual guidance on the road as part of what they see as a mobile Christian ministry.

“You don’t necessarily have to go to a church or a sanctuary to experience recovery and the power of God,” said Drayton, 61.

He started driving for Uber in 2015 after retiring from a career in the insurance industry. Listening to passengers who spoke on his street, he realized that his car could be an extension of the church.

“It’s a very ideal place to do this because the car is personal,” says Drayton, who now drives for Lyft. “I can share my faith. That’s why I’m alive, so that’s very important.”

One recent day, he began by praying in his perfectly clean 2017 Toyota Camry and chanting Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my Shepherd. I would not…”). Between drives in Manhattan, he reflected on how he reaches out to his passengers.

He always has classical music playing on his car stereo (his favorite is Mozart). He begins with greetings and kind words. His priority is to introduce passengers to Christ, but to show respect even when it is not acceptable. Did. Instead of trying to preach his preaching, he says he tends to focus his message on the love of God and avoid dogma.

“That was the conflict, the repellent of healing and transformation,” said Drayton. “It is the arguments and controversies that have caused the crusade.”

Reid also strays from dogma and focuses on sharing her own personal stories, hoping to help others meet their challenges. I feel that we are beyond bricks and mortar.

“This is what God has given me to do,” she said. “And I love it because I love inspiring people and encouraging them to never give up.”

Losses have marked her life, including the deaths of her mother, sister and father of two daughters. She often tells her own stories to her passengers.

“I wanted to give up, but because of my faith in God, I am still standing here,” said the 40-year-old single mother. “And I hope to use my story to encourage others to never give up no matter what you go through.

In 2017, she started driving Lyft to support her daughters, now 14 and 20. loss of a loved one.

Passengers often buy her books and give generous tips. She usually plays George Michael on weekdays and gospel on Sundays when work prevents her from going to church.

“When I hear people say, ‘You made my day,’ I know I can make a difference in people’s lives.” It’s like turning your pain into something that inspires others.”

Evangelism experts say ride-hailing services can help people talk about their faith. Lyft’s guidelines do not explicitly prohibit evangelism or religious conversations, but they promote inclusion and prohibit discrimination, including on grounds of race, gender, or religion.

Robert Geraci, Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College, said:

He gives examples such as how soon after space flight became possible there were people talking about how satellites were used to spread the gospel and how preachers have been using television for decades. I mentioned

“Uber, Lyft become a means of religious communication, not just a transportation strategy,” he said. “This is also a religious strategy.”

People in customer-facing professions, such as driving ride-hailing apps, often start conversations about life and its challenges, said Ed Stetzer, executive director of Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center.

“In a world where interpersonal relationships are less common, bank tellers are all ATMs, but faith sharing is less common, so people are finding creative ways,” he said. Stetzer, who is also dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership, said.

“This is what Christians have been doing for centuries, long before there were rideshare apps.”

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