A crazy generous NewSpring family wanted this student to know God loves her — so they gave her a car
Olivia Sullivan got the gift months after the server was invited to church with a note on a receipt. Press play to see her react
Olivia was saving for a car.
The University of South Carolina senior was working two jobs and riding her bike to work and class. She depended on rides to go to church and run errands.
So an anonymous family from NewSpring Northeast Columbia took showing visible love to the next level.
They gave her a 2010 red Mazda 3 compact they owned.
Even when you think you’re at your lowest point, that’s when God takes you by the hand and leads you out of that place you’re in.
The family heard about her story and felt God calling them to give generously. So they listened to Jesus and did what He told them.
Alden Ellis, NewSpring Columbia Campus Pastor, got to tell Olivia the good news at a picnic table outside a local coffee shop. (Watch the moment by pressing the play button.)
He reminds her that, “God is freakin' awesome, and he loves his kids real, real good, and he’s a good, good father who gives incredible gifts.”
Then Alden plunked down the ignition key in front of her.
Olivia covered her mouth to stifle her shock, which turned into giddy laughter.
“It just felt surreal. I didn’t think it was happening. I was waiting to wake up from this dream,” Olivia says. “I still feel like "thank you" is an inadequate way to express how I’m feeling. It’s the biggest gift I’ve received.”
Olivia found this encouraging note when she stepped into her vehicle:
"Olivia! This car is our gift to you! Continue to put your trust in Jesus! He’s always worth the fight. He is faithful and always working things out for our good and His glory. He's a good, good father. We hope that you always know that you are loved and prayed for!”
Olivia reacts to the note left by an anonymous family who gave her a car. Posing for a picture with Olivia from left are Columbia Worship Leader Maliek Burrell, Katie Lauritzen, and Columbia Campus Pastor Alden Ellis.
Invited at work as a server
The family’s generosity shows how God works through the “No Ordinary Family” of the church.
It wasn’t the first bold move that impacted Olivia.
Olivia was invited to church by Katie Lauritzen and Cole Wilson.
The two friends had dined at the downtown restaurant where Olivia was their server, and they chatted together the whole time. They thought she was “super sweet.”
Katie and Cole had left the restaurant when Cole felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to make a bold move and return. They couldn’t find Olivia, so they left a note, a phone number and church address on the receipt still at their table.
“I thought it was kind of a miracle that it was the church I was trying to get myself to. There’s a ton of churches in Columbia,” Olivia says.
Olivia struck up a friendship with Cole Wilson and Katie Lauritzen, right, after they left a note on a restaurant receipt and invited her to church.
Connected to community
Olivia started attending NewSpring Columbia as a college freshman, but she stopped because she had no one to go with.
So Olivia messaged Katie a few weeks later. They began to attend services together weekly at NewSpring Columbia in the fall of 2017 and have become close friends.
Olivia, who says she grew up in a religious home, recommitted her life to Jesus at Rally in March.
She says she’s had a difficult year with stress from family and school.
Feeling the support from her NewSpring family has helped her connect emotionally with Jesus, and she experiences much less anxiety and worry. She's trusting God's promises.
“Since meeting Katie and becoming a part of this big family, my life has completely changed!” Olivia says. “Even when you think you’re at your lowest point, that’s when God takes you by the hand and leads you out of that place you’re in.”