There’s a truck stop along I-30 just north of Malvern known as JJ’s. It’s been there for years, and some might notice a small, white building on the edge of the property at the end of the parking lot. That building known as the Traveler’s Chapel has been there for over 20 years serving drivers traveling along I-30, who work long hours and may be away from their families for extended periods of time. Central Baptist Association sponsors the chapel that is run by Chaplain Vince Perkins and a group of dedicated volunteers.
With the ongoing pandemic, the chapel has had to suspend services for the time being. This hasn’t stopped them from serving those who are crucial to keeping the country running during this time.
Dr. Ernest DeSoto, Associational Missionary at Central Baptist Association, said he and Perkins started searching for solutions to keep ministering to these truck drivers during this time of uncertainty. He noticed that some churches were turning to FM transmitters for drive-in services to minister to their people, so he ordered one. With truck drivers spending lots of time on the road, the airwaves would be a place to minister to them without meeting face-to-face.
He collaborated with Perkins to create a message of hope and appreciation on an iPhone to run on a loop, 24-hours a day. The message would be broadcast within range of the truck stop parking lot. They talked to the truck stop owner, who they’ve had a close relationship with over the years, to ask if they could post signs and distribute flyers with take-out meals to advertise the station.
By broadcasting through radio station to drivers who have stopped to rest, fuel or eat, they’re still offering a Gospel message of hope. Even though face to face meetings have stopped, ministry continues through the airwaves.
“We’ve seen the need over the years,” DeSoto said. “We get calls on a regular basis from truckers.” Many of them are away from home for extended periods of times and now those hours may have been increased, creating added anxiety. Supplying a way for them to hear a biblically-based message of encouragement is very important.
DeSoto has teamed up with Crossgate Church in Hot Springs to create a video with a QR code in it to be sent to truck stops across the state so other drivers can hear the message. A card with the QR code and Chaplain Perkins’ phone number is available so drivers can access the video and have someone to talk to 24-hours a day.