Home ANS Feature Faith and obedience: Rick Warren’s bald tire story

Faith and obedience: Rick Warren’s bald tire story

by Mark Ellis

When Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, first launched Saddleback Church, they faced some lean times

Pastor Rick Warren

financially, but one man’s obedience touched their hearts with a shining example of uncommon faith.

“When we started Saddleback we had no money,” Warren recounted at the Finishing the Task conference December 5th. “When we needed a vacation, Kay’s parents had a little trailer outside Flagstaff, Arizona sitting on a piece of land. So we drove up there for a week.”

They traveled to Flagstaff in a 25-year-old station wagon showing its age. During the vacation they decided they would visit the Grand Canyon. As they headed north toward the popular tourist destination, they were suddenly pulled over by a police officer.

As the officer approached the car, Warren wondered what he had done wrong.

“Sir, your left rear tire is so bald it’s going to blow any time,” the officer informed them.


“Where is the nearest tire place?” Warren asked.

“There isn’t any.”

“What about a gas station?”

“There’s only one, about 30 miles up the road, but they’re not going to have anything,” the officer replied.

Rick and Kay decided they would keep going, hoping to find the service station before the tire blew. “We found the gas station and pulled in in the middle of nowhere. There was nobody around.”

“Do you have any tires?” he asked the attendant.

“No, we don’t have any tires,” the man replied.

Warren’s heart sank and he began to fill his gas tank.

At that moment a car coming from the Grand Canyon pulled in on the other side. A man got out and started filling his tank. Warren noticed he had Mississippi license plates.

“Oh, you’re from Mississippi,” Warren began, as they engaged in small talk.

“What do you do?” the man inquired.

“I’m actually a pastor,” Warren said.

“Oh, I’m a deacon in a Baptist Church in Mississippi.”

“Is that so? Where have you been?”

“We’ve been all the way to Seattle and now we’re coming back through Arizona and heading back to Mississippi.”

“Well, since you’re a Christian I’m going to ask you to pray for me. I have to get a tire,” Warren said, explaining the seriousness of their situation.

“Wait just a minute…let me check,” the man said.


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