Greetings, Keachfan readers!
I apologize for the seemingly sporadic and random appearance of this once-weekly feature, “Theology Thursday.” I have had to take a job as an over-the-road trucker, much to my dismay. The hours are random, finding Internet access is equally random, and the schedule is impossible to predict. I always have my bible handy, but I don’t carry the library of commentaries, concordance, interlinear Greek New Testament, etc. So writing decent articles about theology is unlikely while I’m out on the road. But I have had a period of profound spiritual growth under these “awful” circumstances in spite of fighting the Lord on this with bitter tears. Read about it here.
This week, though, I want to make readers of this blog aware of a little-known but sorely needed and vitally important ministry to truckers – a group that is associated with the lowest rung on the social ladder. Today truckers are considered scuzballs; the lowest and dirtiest and least desirable people, just as the tax gatherers and harlots were in Jesus’ time. And just as the Lord reached out especially to the lowest of the low, who are humble if nothing else, so truckers are a ripe field for harvest!
There are probably dozens of “trucker’s chaplain” ministries, and most are independent works, a few are done by local churches, and one seems to stand out from the rest because they have high standards for their chaplains, all of whom are trained and serve under supervision and there is an accountability that is not to be found in most of its sister ministries. It’s a non-denominational ministry exclusively dedicated to the trucking industry called Transport For Christ, and it has some unique aspects:
They use actual chapels on wheels, not just conducting Sunday services in the “driver’s lounge” at some truck stops. This allows a full-time chaplain and a staff of volunteers and chaplains-in-training to serve the trucking community at all hours:
That by itself is huge! What it means for a trucker is that this isn’t just some guy who calls himself a preacher showing up to interrupt truckers trying to watch a Sunday ball game so he can put on a little show and pass an offering plate. This might be someone who actually cares! The ministry is not at the mercy of the truck stop management to limit times and scope of services and other ministry. They can conduct services in a chapel made for the purpose, but beyond “church services,” the full-time staff offers the meat-and-potatoes stuff like bible-based counseling, prayer, and long-term discipleship.
Full-time salaried chaplains who oversee volunteer assistants and chaplains-in-training. Many of these chaplains are former truckers themselves, and several are seminary-trained. They answer to a board that functions kinda sorta like a presbytery. They investigate complaints, maintain standards of doctrine and practice, and provide resources, training, and support to the chaplains and volunteers.
Every chapel is identical, so each visit, no matter where it is located, feels like “home.” These mobile chapters are designed and built by ministry-minded craftsmen and include office space, sleeper-sofa, counseling space, and of course, a chapel:
A trucker might find “chapel services” available from God-only-knows who, offering who-knows-what. I have been to one that was a wildly Charismatic celebration of clanging brass and tinkling cymbals where the so-called “worship” paid no homage to Christ, nor was His gospel proclaimed at all. I walked out. If I want to be entertained I’ll go to Disney World. It’s better than such pretense. I now look for the mobile chapel when choosing a stop on a weekend.
And I think I’ll look a little deeper into this particular work, some day perhaps to play a role in it. After some further investigation of course, this one looks like something I could ask my church to get behind. My home town is getting a brand new chapel soon from this ministry (a chaplain is already in place) and the support of local churches is absolutely vital. It is also the role of the local churches in each trucker’s home town to do the hard ongoing work of discipling those who are won to Christ in these chapels and sent to local churches for follow-up.
I would love to hear from readers of this blog who may already be familiar with this ministry.
Until next time,