Lafayette man’s faith and work ethic echoes America’s past.
Drumbeats and lyrics flow from the sound system as water sprays and brushes sway – “♪♪♪We believe in the one true God, We believe in Father, Spirit, Son, We believe that good has won...♪♪♪” A man in a blue shirt looks on as a sleek navy Cadillac glides into the multi-colored wash tunnel. Foam envelopes the car as The City Harmonic’s song Manifesto continues, “♪♪♪We are free, He died and lives again…♪♪♪”
The conductor of this music and machine orchestra is John Leblanc. He has managed Cajun Clean Express Wash since its opening in July of 2021. Born and raised in Lafayette, Leblanc grew up playing baseball through high school at Lafayette High. He also attended Lafayette’s First Baptist Church with his family, “I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior at 16 years old.” He recounts his faith later maturing, “In my mid-20’s, I realized what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and to lean on God in every part of my life.”
Leblanc aspired to be a high school baseball coach after college. However, life decisions and a job opportunity lured him away from completing the required education degree. Years later, Leblanc was laid off during the pandemic. While unemployed, he gratefully accepted the opportunity to manage Cajun Clean’s new location on Johnston Street.
In 2021, building and working for yet another carwash had some risks. No shortage of carwashes exists in Lafayette. In fact, the Acadiana area has the third highest concentration of car washes in the state. (FN 1) However, Cajun Clean’s owners Phil Stoma Jr. and Page Cortez saw the lack of carwashes in mid-city as a plus. (FN 2) Also, Leblanc has a baseball coach optimistic approach to local competition, “As long as we worry about what we do, make sure that we’re consistent and do a great job, then we’re going to do well.”
One of Leblanc’s early management decisions helped separate Cajun Clean from the competition. Three months after opening, his desire to “lean on God in every part of my life” made his choice easy. When his employees could not agree whether 70’s Classic Rock or Country music would play over Cajun Clean’s sound system, Leblanc thought, “This is the platform God gave me, I am going to use it.” From then forward Leblanc streamed contemporary Christian music throughout the premises including the customers’ vacuum and cleaning bays.
Leblanc explains his decision, “I truly believe that God puts opportunities in our lives to get his message to people about Him. We can either ignore it or we can take advantage of it. How many more times will we have to be able to share His Word with people? I felt here was an opportunity. It’s a vehicle that I have to try and spread His message through music.”
Echoes of America’s Past
Leblanc’s approach to work echoes America’s founding according to Leland Ryken’s instructive book “Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were”. Ryken first quotes early Reformers’ teaching that a lay person’s everyday labors are also sacred and as pleasing to God as those of clergy when performed out of obedience. Martin Luther wrote, “When a maid cooks and cleans and does other housework, because God’s command is there, even such a small work must be praised as a service of God.” John Calvin added, “We know that men were created to busy themselves with labor and that no sacrifice is more pleasing to God than when each one attends to his calling and studies to live well.” FN 3
Later, Ryken documents the Puritan concept of “calling” which was fundamental in America’s founding. By “calling”, Puritans believed that God ordained all Christians’ vocations to serve Him and the common good. The Puritans emphasized that everyday common labors, like Jesus’s carpentry and Paul’s tent making, should glorify God and serve others. A sample of Puritans quoted by Ryken include:
“A Christian should be able to give a good account, not only what is his occupation, but also what he is in his occupation. It is not enough that a Christian have an occupation; but he must mind his occupation as it becomes a Christian.” Cotton Mather
“He that hath lent you talents hath also said, “Occupy till I Come!” How is it that ye stand all day idle?…Your trade is your proper province.” Richard Steele
[T]he main end of our lives…is to serve God in the serving of men in the works of our callings.…Some man will say perchance: What, must we not labor in our callings to maintain our families? I answer: this must be done: but this is not the scope and end of our lives. The true end of our lives is to do service to God in serving of man.” William Perkins
“Choose that employment or calling in which you may be most serviceable to God. Choose not that in which you may be most rich or honorable in the world; but that in which you may do most good, and best escape sinning.” Richard Baxter
“Every Christian ordinarily should have a calling. That is to say, there should be some special business…wherein a Christian should for the most part spend the most of his time; and this, that so he may glorify God.” Cotton Mather
The Puritans also believed God blesses the labors of faithful Christians. Leblanc’s experience seems to confirm this. He receives regular affirmation in bringing Christ into the workplace through music, “I’ve got some of my employees now starting to sing some of the lyrics. They have been very supportive. As for our customers, we get compliments often telling us ‘thank you’ for playing the music we play.”
Caleb Golson, a Cajun Clean employee, agrees with Leblanc, “I like the music because it brings the best out of most people. I’ve seen so many people seem like this music helps the soul heal.” Elena Gossen Dawson, a Cajun Clean customer, concurs, “I enjoy the positive atmosphere, the music and the nice employees that work here.”
Leblanc strongly believes that a quality product is essential to his Christian witness through his work. To that end, he fosters friendly employees and customer conveniences such as cleaning spray and towels being available in the vacuum bays for no additional charge. He believes these qualities help separate Cajun Clean from the competition, “I believe we do have the best wash in Lafayette. The music is just a cherry on top that just makes everything a little bit better.” Over his tenure, Cajun Clean has grown but Leblanc also hopes for greater growth particularly in their monthly memberships.
Continuing, Leblanc encourages others to bring their faith to work, “We can’t be scared to share God’s Word. Jesus said deny me, you’ll be denied in front of my Father.”
“♪♪♪We will be a people free from sin
We’ll be free, a kingdom with no end…♪♪♪”
City Harmonic’s “Manifesto” Official Video: https://youtu.be/o_6JQDsbtlM
POST SCRIPT: Though Leblanc’s calling diverted him away from his early dream of coaching high school baseball, he was blessed to coach his son Tyler from ages five through fourteen. Tyler is now a senior pitcher at the University of New Orleans. Leblanc and his wife of twenty-five years Carrie are proud of Tyler’s athletic accomplishments but treasure his faith. Leblanc beams, “He’s hit many home runs, he’s hit some game winning home runs, but none of those measure up to seeing him accept Jesus Christ as the Savior five years ago.”
FN 1 According to the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, seventy permitted carwashes are located in the Lafayette area. Acadiana as a whole has 7.2 car washes per 100,000.00 residents. This is the highest concentration of car washes in the state but for Shreveport-Bossier (9 per 100,000) and Hammond (11 per 100,000) Factors contributing to the nationwide boom in car wash businesses include more vehicles per household, demand for convenience, improved technology and profitability. See
FN 2 Phil Stoma Jr., “The site is set up perfect for a car wash,” Stoma said. “Just like anything with retail stores, you’re looking for rooftops, traffic and access. There’s a lot of car washes on that (western) side of town, coming into what I would call mid-city. Then there’s not a whole lot there in terms of a car wash like this. This kind of played into our hands.” New Car Wash to Be Built on Site of Old La Promenade Mall | https://973thedawg.com/new-car-wash-to-be-built-on-site-of-old-la-promenade-mall-on-johnston-st/?utm_source=tsmclip&utm_medium=referral
FN 3 Quotes taken from “Worldly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were”, Leland Ryken, Zondervan Publishing, (1990), p. 39, 42, 43, 46, and 47.