Like other Free Methodist elders, Olen Thompson introduces people to God and helps them address their spiritual needs.
Thompson, however, is far from a typical FM elder. He is the founder, president and chaplain of Truckers Ministries.
He provides prayer, fellowship, worship and counseling for truck drivers, trucking company employees, transient people and anyone else who enters the chapel he operates in a converted semitrailer.
“The unique thing about Truckers Ministries is we never know what’s going to happen at any given time,” he said. “I’ve dealt with everything from suicide attempts to people having heart attacks or needing to go to the hospital. I’ve done everything from weddings to funerals, to infant baptisms [and] baptisms of [older] children. We do a full range of everything, but we never know when it’s going to happen.”
If you think there’s a potential for conflict in your local church, consider the diversity of people who interact in the chapel.
“I deal with all sorts of different denominations,” said Thompson, who added that some chapel visitors are not Christians. “I’ve had people come in that are Muslim. I’ve had Satan worshippers and atheists walk in the door.”
Thompson can relate to the challenges of life on the road. He previously worked as an over-the-road truck driver hauling heavy equipment across the United States.
“I got saved in the chapel in Harrisburg, Pa. Basically, my church affiliation was always in the chapel trailers and the truck stops,” Thompson said. “I used to stay gone for three months at a time, so that’s where I went to worship.”
While a truck driver, Thompson found that chapels often were closed at truck stops, and chaplains weren’t available. As he sensed God calling him into a ministry position, he knew where a need existed.
“I felt led for a full-time chaplain to be there,” Thompson said. “Every time I stopped someplace, I’d walk in, and they’d say, ‘Well, would you have the sermon today or can you take the chapel?’
“The biggest step of faith was when I quit my job and went into the ministry full-time.”
Now others are taking steps of faith through Truckers Ministries.
“We are there to help the people. We are there to minister to whatever need they have,” Thompson said. “Our goal is to meet the person where they’re at and try to lead them out into deeper water and a closer walk with Christ.”
Truckers Ministries operates primarily through individual donations from people who appreciate its mission. Many donors work in the trucking industry.
“We have had the privilege of working with a lot of people and seeing God’s hand move in some mighty and powerful ways,” Thompson said. “It’s just being open, perceptive and willing to follow Him.”
Donations may be sent to Truckers Ministries, P.O. Box 850987, Yukon, OK 73085.0