Panama City man surprises church volunteer with new car

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. – – When First Baptist Church of Panama City volunteer, Aliisa Cummings, came to work on Monday, she had no idea what was in store for her.

She spends her days cleaning the church; a place she says has cleansed her. 

“My life was a mess,” said Cummings. “Been to detoxes, been to rehabs, been to prison.”

Cummings was a drug addict for years, trying everything from rehab to therapy to get clean with no luck, until she turned toward the church. 

“I had to be at the end of myself, nowhere to go but up and be able to depend on Him,” she said.

Now, she’s on the road to recovery; little did she know, someone across town knows her story all too well.

“I know what it’s like to live life with addiction, to have that kind of bondage in your life,” said Panama City Resident Gerald Mcintosh. “I know it first-hand.”

Mcintosh was also an addict. 

“Nine years ago I was in a house in Ferguson Kentucky with no running water, no electricity and a needle stuck in my arm,” he said.

He said the church and a good deed lifted him up when he needed it most. 

“When I got out of jail all I had was literally the shirt on my back,” said Mcintosh. “A guy gave me a job, gave me a little cash that day and a car to drive and it just went up from there.”

Now clean, he works as a contractor in Panama City and spends his free time volunteering at the church. 

One Sunday, Mcintosh had an idea.

He saw an old Suzuki Grand Vitara for sale and decided to call the phone number listed; News 13’s Chris Marchand answered the phone.

Mcintosh explained to Marchand that he intended to purchase the car in order to give it away to someone who needs it, just like someone did for him.

Marchand sold him the car at a discounted price.

In order to find someone to give the car to, Mcintosh connected with his friend Rick McClung, Associate Pastor for First Baptist Panama City and Director for ‘the Most Excellent Way,’ program at First Baptist; a support group for recovering addicts that Cummings is apart of. 

McClung said he thought of Cummings immediately upon hearing the idea.

“We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt she’d be grateful, and she’d do it justice,” said McClung.

The group was able to make the surprise a reality on Monday morning.

“I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it,” said Cummings. “This is the nicest car I’ve ever had.”

She said the car is an answered prayer; providing her with invaluable opportunities like commuting to a job and visiting her children in Alabama.

“That is like beyond,” said Cummings, with tears in her eyes. “Above and beyond.”

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