Ministries to Truckers
Roger A. Sproul
There are a number of ministries aimed at truckers, and some churches have their own local ministries to truckers.
Transport for Christ (TFC) was started in 1951. Based in Denver, Pennsylvania, it operates truck stop chapels in the United States and Canada. Chaplains are trained and commissioned for this specialized ministry by the organization. Drivers visiting TFC chapels are offered free Bible correspondence courses. The ministry's monthly devotional magazine, Highway News and Good News, is sent to all financial contributors. TFC provides a list of "trucker-friendly" churches upon request. The TFC statement of faith requires belief in the fundamentals of the faith and allows freedom on nonessentials.
Many truck stop owners desire to have a chapel located on their property, because they believe it will discourage illicit activities such as drug trade and prostitution. However, TFC chaplain Dennis Finnamore notes that location is crucial to a chapel's success. When drivers walk past the chapel to get to other points such as the fuel desk, restaurant, or store, they are more likely to stop at the chapel than if it is located away from the major foot paths.
In 1974, singer and veteran truck driver Raleigh Huls started a radio program in Grand Rapids, Michigan, called "Highway Melodies." When the station changed its format and cancelled his show, Huls started a Bible distribution ministry by the same name. Individual drivers receive shipments of New Testaments from Highway Melodies to be placed in over 450 truck stops nationwide. Permission is always obtained from the truck stop to set up a display of the specially printed testaments, which are free to the drivers who pick them up. Highway Melodies also distributes cassette tapes and Bible correspondence courses. This is the only trucker ministry I know of with any Reformed influence, which comes mostly through board members.
Driver James Wheat, from Taylorsville, North Carolina, says he was called by God to the ministry after an early life of sin. His own testimony of his life and calling is available on cassette tape. It reveals a Pentecostal inclination (his truck once glowed in the dark, he says, because it was "filled with the Holy Ghost and the love of Jesus"). He offers a newsletter, a 24-hour toll-free prayer line, and referral services. He also sponsors annual rallies and holiday get-togethers at Homer's Truck Stop in Statesville, North Carolina. Jim's wife, Linda, says one of the many referrals they have been able to provide was for a trucker who needed to be hospitalized while on the road. They located a Christian family near the hospital willing to have the trucker's wife stay with them so she could visit him at the hospital.
Truckstop Ministries, Inc., of Jackson, Georgia, uses a different approach to providing truck stop chapels than that of Transport for Christ. Instead of using their own mobile chapels and chaplains, it encourages local churches to establish truck stop ministries that provide advice and resource materials. Like the other ministries covered here, it stresses that its affiliates must be kept nondenominational. However, its written statement of faith is baptistic and dispensational.
In addition to these national ministries, there are many local and independent ministries to truckers. The services they provide vary from Sunday worship services to pastoral counseling to informal social gatherings. Some provide material as well as spiritual assistance. They often provide meals for drivers waiting for settlement checks or advances from their companies.
If your church would be interested in this type of ministry, contact the editor at 215-830-0900. We would be glad to brainstorm with you. Some truck stops have conference rooms that you could use, but most would require a motor home, office trailer, or other portable meeting place.
Reprinted from New Horizons, June 1998.