A pastor takes a stand. A topless car wash closes down. If it were only that simple all the time.
Last November, John Orozco opened the Wet Spot car wash on Columbus' west side. For $24.95, patrons could have their cars cleaned by three topless women, who would also do some dancing as well. Customers had to be 18 years or older and had to stay in their vehicles.
But Gary Samples, a pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Grove City, a Columbus suburb, was troubled. He saw news reports about the controversial business and was knocked off his feet when he discovered who ran the establishment.
"I couldn't hardly believe it," Samples explained. "What he did was an offense to me as a Christian. I would never support anything like that, even before I was saved. It really caught me off guard."
In addition to the car wash, Orozco was also proprietor of the Central Ohio Meat Co., which for the last four years had supplied steaks, seafood, chicken, hamburger and other meat for the church's food pantry ministries. According to Samples, Orozco was donating around $6,000 in food a year. "I didn't want anybody thinking we were condoning what he was now doing," Samples offered. "It didn't seem like the same man to me. We'd had a good relationship with him as a church and he always treated me well. But this was just like a big slap in the face." So he decided to place a call to Orozco the next day.
"I just tried to explain to him we couldn't be a part of that, that we didn't want anybody to think we as a church supported that," Samples said. "I told him we loved him, we were praying for him, that he needed to get saved and get his heart right with God." Samples declined further meat donations from Orozco's business.
"I believe you can take a stand without being mean or critical," Samples added. "You can be sweet about it and that's the way I was toward John. I had no animosity toward him."
But, even though Samples' tone was soft as a feather, the content of what he said hit Orozco like the proverbial ton of clay-based residential building material.
"It was like an atomic bomb going off," noted Orozco. "When pastor talked to me on the phone it was a very enlightening experience. It changed my whole outlook on life. A dollar isn't worth your pride or self-respect."
Orozco described himself as a Christian who lost sight of his faith. "My family back in Missouri are all Christian," he said. "I'd gotten away from the church and forgot what my roots were. God is always there; He didn't leave, I did.
"Money doesn't dictate happiness. And your conscience does get the better of you, especially when your own pastor won't accept a contribution from you every month."
Orozco said he is a member of Bible Baptist, though Samples said he hasn't attended a service in the two years he's served there. Orozco said working seven days a week has kept him from making it Sundays.
It took about seven nights of not sleeping well to convince Orozco to shut down the Wet Spot, he said. "You can't imagine the emotions that were inside me. Up to that point, the car wash was making about $5,000 a day, but the money wasn't worth the [personal] cost."
Right after the car wash opened and Samples' phone call, Orozco says he had also talked with his 16-year-old daughter, who wondered why her dad opened this business. "I can take pressure, but when she asked me what I was doing, I pictured her five years older and thought, 'Oh, my God.' She could have been working in a place like that."
Even still, Orozco claims mixed feelings about closing because the 16 young women working for him had come out of strip bars. He offered jobs at the meat company to all, but only one decided to take a customer service job. He also says he lost about $65,000, but does plan to open a regular car wash at the same site.
As for Samples, the whole experience has been rather remarkable. "I had no idea all this would transpire," he said. "I've been on TV here, TV down in Virginia. I've been contacted by a radio program in Washington State. I've been interviewed many, many times. I had no idea this would happen because I took a stand."
"I've had over 100 phone calls to the church personally over this situation. There's not been one derogatory call or anything negative at all. There's been overwhelming support from the community." The church has also received unexpected visitors and financial contributions, Samples said. "It's been phenomenal. I think the way I handled it was the way God wanted it handled. God's gotten the victory and He's gotten the glory for it."
Samples admits, that deciding not to take Orozco's food donations was a huge risk for his church, which runs 115 people at Sunday school. "We had a lot of people depending on the meat he gave every month and it did bother me some," he said. "I mentioned [my decision] at a Wednesday night service and the church overwhelmingly agreed with me.
"I didn't want to hurt anyone, but I had to take a stand for something I thought was right. I just believed God knew the need and He'd work it out. I believe when you stand for right, God will turn it around. And since he closed it down, we've said we'll start accepting meat again."
Citizen Magazine, April 2001,Volume 15, Number 4, published by Focus on the Family. (c) 2001. Focus on the Family. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Used by Permission.