Families gathered at Steuart’s Pit Stop in Levelland Saturday morning to pray for the well-being of local oil field workers and for a turnaround in the oil economy. Many residents of the West Texas town have been impacted by the decline in oil prices, many Levelland jobs and businesses hang in the balance.
The event was organized by Michael Steuart, owner of Steuart’s Pit Stop, an automotive store.
“Our business is down because we do depend on the oil field in Levelland and it would be great if we could come together and pray for our oil families,” Steuart said. He came up with the idea for this event several weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised with the community response– in person and on Facebook.
“This is really a good thing this morning because [the oil economy decline] affects the community, it affects the businesses in the community. I’ve seen coworkers get laid off I’ve seen friends laid off,” said Noel Luna, of Levelland who has spent over 20 years in a chemical company assisting with oil production.
He said the oil market is the worst he’s seen since the early 1990’s.
Luna came to the event after hearing about it at a drive-through window. He said he believes the oil economy will turn around.
At the event, dozens of community members listened in on prayers. During one prayer Steuart compared the financial difficulties Levelland faced to the loss of jobs Littlefield faced after the recent closure of their denim plant. He explained that his friends in Littlefield worked through tough economic times by leaning on their faith.
Steuart explained that the oil industry is vital to the Levelland area, many of his friends and family have worked in the oil business for years. He explained that community members in Levelland gathered several years ago to pray for rain and saw rain in their area soon after.
He knows that the oil economy won’t recover overnight, so he hopes his community members in Levelland continue to support each other through the difficulties which come with the oil downturn.
“Not just to pray today, but to pray tonight and tomorrow and next week, and continue to lift this area up in prayer,” he said.
Levelland’s Mayor Barbara Pinner explained that the burdens placed on the oil industry have been impacting the city’s economy as well.
“We had to raise taxes a little,” she explained. “But if the economy had stayed like it had been I think we’d have been able to maybe even lower taxes. I think we’re really gonna be struggling to maintain what we’ve always done for our city services and our police and our fire and all that.”
Pinner explained that much of Levelland’s tax base is rooted in the oil industry and people who work in it. That’s why she thinks it’s important for Levelland residents to come together at events like this.
“If we don’t step up and do this, lots of people will be hurting even worse,” she said. “And if we don’t make a showing and if we don’t stand together as a community, it just makes things a lot harder. [This event] helps to show people that we are concerned, and we are doing what we can.”
Noel Luna similarly believes that for his friends and coworkers whose jobs have been impacted by the low oil prices, that prayer will make all the difference.
“We came together as a community, and prayer changes things and God does hear our prayers,” he said. “I think this thing will be turned around, I’m not hoping for that, I’m believing for that.”