For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Luke 19:10

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Truckers - Reaching Them with the Gospel

This report was submitted by Luke and Gerda Winkels, in fellowship with the assembly in Burgessville, Ontario.

Non-denominational public chapels. Hospital chapels. Prison chapels. University chapels. Airport Chapels. These chapels are quiet places that have been set aside by organizations where people can come individually or as a little group to think about their life and their spiritual needs. IF a true Christian is volunteering at that chapel, the person will get to hear about Christ. Many assembly believers volunteer in such settings. We look forward to hearing more stories in this regard.

An Open Door for Truckers
But what about a chapel for truckers? Think of the long hours they are on the road. The lonely hours away from their families. The sad lives that some of them live. Some truckers desperate to stay afloat haven’t seen their families for weeks or even months. Many of them spend Christmas on the roads. In Canada there are 230,000 truckers travelling 23 billion kilometers a year. In the United States there are 3.5 million truckers travelling 224 billion kilometers a year.

The Gospel Opportunity
How many of these truckers know Christ as their Saviour? In the storms of their lives, how many can turn to Christ for help? Think of the hundreds/thousands of hours they spend alone on the road – so much time alone to think. How many of them have a Gospel CD to listen to? How many of them have a tract or a Gospel of John to read when they are trying to fall asleep in their truck? How many of these truckers have ever heard a Christian pray for them and their families at home?

Transport for Christ
There are some Chapels for Truckers in Canada, United States, Russia, Australia, Zambia. Probably the first such chapel for truckers was established in 1958 when a young Canadian trucker quit his job to work full time as a chaplain for truckers. He worked out of mobile chapel taken from truck stop to truck stop. From there, permanent chapels have been established at strategic travel plazas across Canada and USA.  There are 24 such chapels in USA and 4 in Canada. Obviously, based on the statistics above – there is room for growth.

Woodstock, ON
One such chapel is located in Woodstock, ON where 6000 trucks a week come and go. 24,000 truckers a month stop at the 230 Truck Stop at HWY 401 & Sweaburg Road. The trailer of a truck has been converted into a chapel.

Luke and Gerda Winkels volunteer at this truck stop chapel. 200 truckers a month visit this chapel and they know of two who have trusted Christ. Bible and New Testaments, English and French are given out. Magazines, tracts, CDs, etc. are available at this chapel. There’s a little sound system and a keyboard for those volunteers who may want to sing hymns for the truckers.  

At Christmas time, Gerda Winkels and other volunteers get together to make hand-made stockings filled with toiletries, candy, cold weather gear, key chains etc. They go to the truck stop and hang them on the tractor-trailers. Some truckers have burst into tears when they see someone cares for them at Christmas time.

The Woodstock Truckers’ Chapel has a lead chaplain and twelve volunteers – five of whom are truckers themselves. Because of a shortage of volunteers, they can only be open seven days a week between 9am and 10pm. Their desire is to have it open 24/7 – in line with truckers’ hours.

How the Truckers Respond
Lead Chaplain Len Reimer said the volunteers never know what to expect. “Some people, as soon as they walk through the door, they’ll just unload. Others come in and scream – they’re mad at the world – and we just let them. Some come in and say: “Chaplain, I’m struggling.”” Reimer said: “We’re an unbiased ear. We entertain people of all faiths and try to help as best we can.” Volunteers usually try to read something from the Bible with truckers who come in and to pray with them before they leave.

For more information contact: Luke and Gerda Winkels, Burgessville, ON.

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