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Prayers answered
Woman wins new car from evangelist in online contest
WEBcar winner 2 jd
Don and Carol Gray stand in front of “Old Blue,” a 1986 Cadillac they will donate to No Longer Bound. - photo by Jim Dean
Most people have heard of manna from heaven. But how about a new car?

While Midway resident Carol Gray’s 2008 Chrysler 300 LX may not exactly be floating down from on high, it will be coming to her from religious sources.

Dr. Ronnie Hill, an evangelist from Fort Worth, Texas, will present Gray the keys to the vehicle after morning services today at First Baptist Church of Cumming.

Gray was one of more than 10,000 people from all 50 states and 29 countries to visit Hill’s Web site,, in 2008. All visitors during the year were invited to listen to Hill’s Christian testimony and then enter to win the car.

Gray’s win is timely, if not miraculous, because she had prayed for a new vehicle for her husband just a few months earlier.

“I prayed for God to show me some way for us to be able to afford a car payment because Don’s car was so old,” said Gray, who when not visiting her daughter and son-in-law at First Baptist serves as worship leader at Alpharetta First United Methodist.

“But then I felt guilty for asking for something so materialistic and asked Jesus to forgive me.”

He must have heard her because about 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 12 Hill tried to contact Gray.

Gray, who visited the Web site in September after her son-in-law sent her the link, nearly lost the vehicle. She couldn’t remember entering the contest.

“We had just gone to bed and the phone rang,” Gray said. “The person said something like, ‘Is this Miss Carol? This is Ronnie Hill and we need to find a way to get this new car to you.’ It startled me because he knew my name.”

Gray’s husband said the call frightened his wife. So much so, that after hanging up on Hill, she “went around and made sure all the windows in the house were locked.”

“It really scared me,” she said. “I thought it was some crazy person calling. I couldn’t believe I had really won something like a new car.”

Hill, who said he plans to offer the giveaway again this year, said he called her back “five times over the course of about three hours saying it was not a joke.”

“I finally left her a message saying that I had an alternate winner and if I didn’t hear back from her in five days, I would have to give the car to them,” he said.

The following morning, Hill gave it one more shot and Gray answered.

“I finally let him explain everything and then I remembered going to the site and entering,” she said. “I just started crying and laughing, and then he started crying and laughing, and we were crying and laughing together.”

Gray and her husband are still laughing, only from joy since both will receive major upgrades in their vehicles.

For years, Gray’s husband has been driving what the couple lovingly refer to as “Old Blue,” a 1986 Cadillac sedan with 226,000 miles, while she has a 1998 Ford Explorer.

“Old Blue” will now be donated to No Longer Bound and he will inherit the Explorer.

Hill, who was scheduled to arrive in Cumming last night to present the car to Gray, purchased the vehicle from Family Chrysler in Cleveland.

For general sales manager Kelly Chadwick and Hill, the transaction ended up being a match made in heaven.

“I had a dealer in Texas who was going to give me a really good deal,” Hill said. “But I told Lee (Weeks) that if I could find a local dealer who could match that deal, I’d just buy the car there.

“Lee gave me Family Chrylser’s information and Kelly ended up beating my Texas dealer’s price by $500.”
Chadwick, like many, had been feeling the effects of the current economic downturn. So Hill’s call was “truly a blessing.”

“It was so funny because that morning driving in, with the economy and sales dropping a little bit, I was trying to figure how to get things going,” Chadwick said. “I said a silent prayer and put things in God’s hands.

“It probably wasn’t 30 minutes after I got into work that I got the call from Ronnie [Hill]. I just had to stop for a second and think ‘wow.’ It was just amazing. We were so happy to be a part of this.”

Weeks, associate pastor at First Baptist of Cumming, said the entire congregation also has found the experience amazing.

“Ironically, we call our church ‘the church that gives itself away,’” he said, adding that they had worked with Hill to drive traffic to the Web site.

In addition to posting the link on the church’s Web site and alerting family and friends, he said First Baptist members also handed out business cards with the link during the Cumming Country Fair & Festival in October.

“It’s so amazing to have the mother-in-law of one of our deacons win,” Weeks said. “This whole situation was just such a blessing for everyone involved.”

E-mail Crystal Ledford at