Illingworth's Christian vision of the car business
Dave Illingworth, the son of a Presbyterian minister in Wheeling, W.Va., has always been a man of faith. But the former Toyota executive says his Christianity was awakened as he contemplated retirement in 2008 after 30 years in the car business.
Since then Illingworth's life has made a turnabout. For one thing he is now a Toyota dealer. For another, he has taken to writing about spirituality. He says he saw an existential crisis among lapsed Christians and felt compelled to address it.
His book, God of Hope, a 153-page paperback from religious publisher BMH Books, is selling on Amazon.com. A Web site, godofhope.net, and a nonprofit organization were scheduled to be be launched last week.
The book is the story of Illingworth's career, but it also delves deeply into how faith affected his life decisions.
"Because I'm not a theologian or minister, the book is not done in standard Christian lingo," he says. "It is more ordinary, not as heavy, and it hopefully will make a difference in some people's lives."
The book's examination of the Bible includes the story of "Doubting Thomas," the disciple who questioned the resurrection of Jesus until he saw firsthand evidence. He also writes about the prophet Moses, the apostle Paul and the disciple John, and how their lessons can be applied today.
"What I see is people losing hope because they are losing faith," Illingworth says. "I am telling God's story in a way to show that there is hope if you have faith."
In an e-mail, Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., said: "Dave's business ethics were always impeccable, and I believed his religious convictions attributed to his actions."
But Illingworth didn't proselytize in Torrance. "In all the years I knew Dave ... I do not recall one conversation regarding religion," Carter wrote.
Illingworth is not a revival meeting-style Bible-thumper.
"There is a perspective that Christians are judgmental, against everything, and political," he says. "That is not what Jesus was about. There are 40,000 denominations of Christianity in the world. Nobody has it right."
Still, Illingworth says he is troubled by people "who see science as a lot of the answer."
"What people don't stop and think about is: If you do not believe in God, what do you believe in?" he says. "Is life meaningless? Are you a talking animal? That is such a bleak outlook that I cannot agree with it."
Illingworth says that just returning to church isn't always the answer.
"Forget about going to church, the theology and the rules you must do," he says. "If you have questions, just go right to the man. Once you've gone to Jesus and know a bit about him, then you can decide what to do."
You can reach Mark Rechtin at email@example.com. -- Follow Mark on