top of page
The following article was written in 2014, when MUMs was awarded the Hope Award for Effective Compassion by World Magazine
Maury United Ministries
2014 Hope Award South Region Winner
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth
Executive director Randy Nichols, a former mechanical designer, has run MUMs for 16 years: part time for six, full time for the last 10. The ministry now provides up to 5,000 trips per year, connecting 25 to 35 volunteers with car-less neighbors who need rides to work, job training, doctor’s offices, GED classes, pharmacies, day care, etc. "The goal," Nichols says, "is to show the love of Christ as we provide for the transportation needs of our new-found friends—and we cannot help but look for opportunities to share the gospel message with them whenever it is seems appropriate.”
Nichols showed me around Maury County, three-fifths urban and two-fifths rural, with a population of 80,000 humans, along with 23 cattle for every 100 acres of farmland. The county leads Tennessee in beef production and has had its share of racial animosity: In 1946 Thurgood Marshall, who would later become the first black Supreme Court justice, defended an African-American naval veteran involved in a fight that led to a Maury County race riot.
The MUMs idea grew out of Nichols’ Bible-reading and self-appraisal: “I really believe where it says God gives us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to equip God's people for WORKS OF SERVICE. So, having just been refreshed and renewed during some visits to a revival down at Pensacola, Florida, I started looked for something I could do here at home.” He recalls, “As I prayed for direction, the Lord showed me that, in our County, if you want to just exist as a poor person you can get housing through government assistance, food stamps, and other social services – so you can get by. But, if you want to do better, if you start looking for work so as to come out of poverty, the first thing you'll run into is a transportation issue."
Nichols then tackled the problem of recruiting volunteer drivers: “I asked them for a half day a month, morning or afternoon, and I would coordinate and dispatch and do fill in's. …At first we just gave six or seven rides a week. Next thing you know people start hearing about it.” The ministry grew: “We let the churches know, the social service organizations know. Didn’t put up a big old billboard because people would think we’re a taxi service. We recruited drivers from all denominations and many different churches.”
Given Maury County’s racial history, it’s not inconsequential that on the afternoon I visited the first pickup by one of Nichols’ most faithful drivers, Marilyn Fullmer, a white retired nurse, was of Tracy, an African-American woman. Eight years ago Fullmer heard Nichols speak about MUMs at her church, Zion Presbyterian, and thought, “That’s something I could probably do.” She’s seen progress in some of the women she’s transported: “I remember taking Tracy job hunting for week after week after week. … Then, instead of taking her job hunting, we’re taking her to her job.”
As she drove her blue Taurus, Fullmer reflected on the riders she has driven: “The most satisfying experience was a young couple that Randy counseled a lot. She was very bright. He was a whiz at the computer. They had some real messes to clean up. They began going to church, became believers, and got married.” Others have not been as diligent: “I might knock on a door and not get an answer. If that happens more than a couple of times, Randy will say we just can’t give the ride anymore.”
Fullmer says she has “friends who think I’m crazy for doing this, [but] I haven’t found any real reason to be afraid.” She doesn’t expect quick changes, so she’s seldom disappointed: “I tell myself and my husband tells me often: You can’t do it for them. … You can help. You can provide opportunity—but the Spirit of God has to do the work and they have to listen.” She’s learned a lot over the years: “Sometimes we get attached and decide to help with more than the ride. We have to be careful and go in with eyes open. It’s a fine line: You’re trying to help them because God doesn’t shut the door on us when we come back again.”
Nichols gave me details on demographics and procedures: Most rides are of single mothers or widows. More female than male rides. No opposite-sex driver/rider combos. You can get a picture of how it works through his binder of monthly newsletters.
Here’s one from 2009: “A single mom with three children informed me that her employer is increasing her work hours from 15 per week to 30 per week. The reason: She is a good worker and she shows up on time! (That's where we come in!) She was ecstatic, and sends out a HUGE "Thank You" to all the MUMs drivers who get her to work.”
I read more: “One of our male passengers does community service work to help pay for his subsidized apartment. As we transport him to work, he has started asking about how to pray and what it means to follow Christ. … He will be asking more questions during future rides with our drivers. please pray for him.”
A newsletter from 2010 listed results: “Today, Jamie got to nurse certification training. Kelly got to the Career Center for job training—she and her minus-one-month-old son (she’s due Sept. 21st) say thank you. Pat got home from work at LifeCare—she and the patients she cleans for say thank you. Katricia got to the hospital for burn treatment therapy (and back home), just to name a few.”
Items from 2011 newsletters: “Marilyn and her Down-Syndrome child are going grocery shopping. Katricia is going to get her new glasses. Howard is going to dialysis. Pam has been unemployed until one month ago. As soon as she got a job, she called MUMs and we have been taking her to work and back five days a week. Soon she will have a down payment for her own car. Last month we gave over 500 rides like these, including rides to pharmacies, doctors, job interviews, college classes, probation, Columbia Pregnancy Center.”
Items from 2012: “Debbie has gone through training and has gotten a job at Kroger’s. She is now riding to work with friends, having outgrown her need for us! We always like to see that. Demeca is driving to work every day, taking her kids to school activities, and grocery-shopping IN HER OWN VAN, that a local couple donated to us and we passed along to her. The local automotive technology school has agreed to do all the repair work for MUMs with no charge for labor! Traci, Colleen, and Lisa have gone back to Project Learn and are all working on their GEDs. Through exposure to our wonderful volunteer drivers, we have seen many of our passengers drawing closer to our Lord Jesus. All our drives have been safe. This makes 156 months in a row. Thank you, Lord.”
Items from 2013: “A word from one of our former passengers, now a registered medical assistant: ‘I used MUMs to get back and forth to Columbia State. I didn’t have the means to pay for transportation and at the time I was pregnant and going through a really rough time. The drivers never judged me and were always willing to be an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, offer advice, and pray with and for me. If it weren’t for MUMs I wouldn’t have been able to further my education. In Christ, Stephanie.”
bottom of page