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1,000 cars for missionaries tallied by Macedonian Call

HOUSTON (BP)–For 25 years, the Macedonian Call Foundation has been providing donated automobiles to international missionary families on stateside assignment, recently reaching the 1,000 vehicle milestone in assisting with immediate transportation needs.

“I’m a former Southern Baptist missionary, and I recognized the need having to come home several times and try to find a vehicle,” said Harvey Kneisel, president and co-founder of Macedonian Call. “It cost me a lot of money to provide a car for three six-month furloughs.”

Kneisel and his wife were missionaries to India and to Guyana during their tenure with the International Mission Board. Now Kneisel serves on the staff of First Baptist Church in Houston as a consultant for church planting and church health. He also is the church’s emeritus minister of missions, but he makes clear Macedonian Call is a ministry independent of FBC Houston.

Twenty-five years ago, while the Kneisels were still on the mission field, an evangelist friend named Jack Edmonds urged them to start a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation to facilitate personal transportation for missionaries who return to the States.

“He gave me the idea and helped me get it chartered,” Kneisel told Baptist Press.

The average missionary is on stateside assignment for anywhere from three months to a year, Kneisel explained. During that time, it’s often impractical to purchase a car, but they also need a way to get around and don’t always have family to help. That’s where the Macedonian Call Foundation comes in.

“In 25 years, we’ve provided more than 1,000 missionaries with a free car for the time of their furlough,” Kneisel said, noting he has never appealed for funds.

He just asks that people donate automobiles and receive a tax credit. “That way they enter into the ministry to our missionaries,” he said.

Kneisel has received cars from as far away as Indianapolis and Richmond, Va., though most come from Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

A milestone came in June when Pinki Pampell, a member of FBC Houston, donated a Mazda minivan — coinciding with an urgent need from Mark and Jan Moses, missionaries in the city of Iloilo on the island of Panay in the Philippines.

“Theirs was a special need. We were over there about three months ago doing a mission trip,” Kneisel said. “I took a group of 30 people from First Baptist Church. While we were there, they were our host family. They were just gracious hosts, with their children. Two weeks after we returned home, she called and said, ‘I need to come to [the] MD Anderson [Cancer Center in Texas]. I have melanoma.’ We said, ‘Come on,’ and she stayed with us here in town.”

But Jan Moses did not have a good diagnosis. Though she had surgery, the cancer has spread and she is now on experimental drugs, Kneisel said.

“Three weeks later, we got a call from Mark,” he said. “They had diagnosed that he had a large, cancerous tumor on one kidney.”

Mark Moses traveled to Dallas, where the kidney was removed, but Kneisel said his diagnosis was not good either.

“The bottom line is, they needed a car,” Kneisel told BP. “And with five kids, they needed a big car.”

Macedonian Call matched Pampell’s Mazda with the Moses family, and now they have appropriate transportation while Mark and Jan receive treatment for their health conditions.

“That’s just one of the many stories,” Kneisel said.

The foundation now has two sister organizations, Kneisel said. A group in Atlanta and one in Tupelo, Miss., contacted him and asked if they could use the Macedonian Call name for a similar ministry.

Kneisel said he got the name from Acts 16:9, which states, “During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.'”

The Macedonian Call is closely tied to the Great Commission, Kneisel said, noting, “We try to hold the rope in the U.S. for our missionaries without appealing for Southern Baptist money.”

Vehicles donated to Macedonian Call need to be “drivable transportation,” Kneisel said. “We don’t go by color. We don’t deal in cosmetics, nor in prestige,” he said, laughing.

However, he said they’ve had a couple of rare cars donated.

“A member of First Baptist Church donated a 1950 Buick with 18,000 original miles,” Kneisel said. “I sold it and bought three cars. So we got about 200,000 miles out of those three cars.”

A husband and wife in Arkansas who are both doctors donated 10 cars, Kneisel said. One was a BMW with under 20,000 miles, and Kneisel sold it and bought three cars with the money.

“The couple applied for [appointment as] foreign missionaries at a time when Baptists were low on money and didn’t have enough money to send them,” he said. Nevertheless: “… they still have a heart for missionaries, and they provided 10 cars to the Macedonian Call Foundation.”
Anyone interested in donating vehicles to the foundation may contact Harvey Kneisel of the Macedonian Call Foundation at (713) 686-2633 or (713) 957-5861.

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  • Erin Curry