Servants' News

July/August 1999

Truckers’ Bible StudyTrucker's Bible Study

Oak Grove, Mo., #22–27

The Trucker’s Bible Study is conducted weekly at the Texaco truck stop on I-70, Oak Grove, Missouri by Arlo Gieselman, often assisted by Lenny Cacchio, the writer of this series.
 

June 6, 1999:

One trucker came today. Although baptized as a child, he seems to have had only a passing interest in the Bible, but wanted to find a church to attend.

He related an experience he had in his new hometown (Atlanta). He has a problem finding a church where he is comfortable. At his previous home he was accustomed to attending a church in more casual clothing. When visiting churches dressed in that way, he feels like people are staring at him and has been approached about dressing more formally, which he is not inclined to do.

We reviewed Romans 14, which is about not offending one’s brother (in chapter 14 the issue at hand in vegetarianism), but the principle is to be tolerant in minor areas that are not a matter of salvation. He has three choices to choose from:

  1. Attend nowhere.
  2. Wear a coat and tie.
  3. Find a church where he doesn’t have to wear a coat and tie.

In other words, respect the culture of the church you are attending.

Because he did not own a Bible, I gave him two different translations and suggested he read the Bible through. I also gave him several pieces of literature including the first lesson of a correspondence course. Finally, we discussed that the Bible is how God talks to us, and prayer is how we talk to God. The Bible explains God’s purpose for creating mankind, and paints a picture of a glorious future.

July 11, 1999:

We had three truckers today, two men and a woman. All of them are interested in things of the Bible, but none were well-grounded in the Word. One tip-off is their inability to find scriptures. I always bring a stack of Bibles with me that are published by the same company, so that in the event that people can’t find the scriptural reference, I can tell them what page it is on.

Since they didn’t have much in the way of questions or experiences that they wanted to share, I launched into essentially a sermon on Psalm 8, Hebrews 2, and God’s purpose for creating mankind. I shared with them the meaning of the gospel, which contains the essential understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, but also that he will return and set up the Kingdom of God on this earth. We reviewed Luke 4, Isaiah 61, and Isaiah 2.

Finally, we went through Revelation 20, which speaks of the millennium and the first and second resurrections. Each of them took with them a copy of CEM’s “Second Chance” study, which I had placed on a table along with other literature and tapes. They seemed to want more information on this, as it is something none of them had ever heard before.

Afterwards one of the gentleman stayed and talked about an hour with me about studying the Bible (KJV vs NIV and Bible study tools), and also wanted advice about personal issues related to employment. It is certainly rewarding to be able to help people, especially those who are new to Biblical understanding.

July 25, 1999:

Thankfully we have an air conditioned facility with today’s temperature hitting 100 degrees F (38 degrees C).

We had two truckers today. One was a repeat who came looking for Arlo. He related that the last time he was through, the Bible study was the best that he had attended. Since that time he has done some research and has become convinced that the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week. Arlo came by as we were closing up, and they were able to talk a while.

This trucker is now in the process of selling all his equipment and plans to move to Saudi Arabia to “make tents”. He feels a call to mission work. He doesn’t know what he is going to do specifically in Saudi Arabia, but is just going to “show up”. He fully realizes the “challenges” of that nation, even life threatening challenges, but says he’s not afraid. Arlo cautioned him to praying and fasting over this, but not to have his mind made up before praying and fasting. Otherwise the prayer and fast won’t do any good.

The bulk of the Bible study was a challenge. This trucker had some distorted views of the roles of men and women and on child discipline that I frankly found repulsive. So did the other trucker who, when he left, was obviously distressed. I turned to a number of scriptures familiar to us all regarding the obligation men have to love their wives, and while God does tell wives to submit to their husbands and that man is head of the wife, God also tells men to love their wives, and that godly leadership is not to “rule over” as the gentiles do. And never is there justification scripturally for a woman to remain in an abusive situation.

I ended by reading Proverbs 31, which the other trucker seemed to appreciate.

We run into all kinds of strange ideas. The disappointing thing about today is that a budding Sabbath keeper has some of these attitudes, and the other trucker had to hear such things.

August 8, 1999:

Today’s was one of the more rewarding Bible studies, and I wonder how God will use it.

We had one trucker, who is from Mississippi. As often happens, he wanted to relate the story that led to his walk with God. Such stories are usually interesting, and I always enjoy hearing them. His relates to a childhood baptism, a road through hippy and rock culture, drug abuse, and potential suicide (one day while under the influence he traded his truck for a gun, and to this day doesn’t know if his intent was to kill himself or someone else), and a plea to God for a miracle. Just after that prayer his sister found him and deposited him in an Christian-run institution, who dried him out from drugs and gave him Bible-based teachings. This was in July 1998. Today he brought in a well-used and marked-up Bible.

He mentioned how he felt like Satan had sifted him as wheat, but even as Jesus had prayed that Peter’s faith would fail not, he knows that God was watching out for him. He then referred to the rest of the verse: “When you are converted strengthen your brethren”, and related his feelings of inadequacy on how to fulfill this. He feels like he is not a teacher, etc. We went through 1 Corinthians 12 and discussed spiritual gifts, and that each of us has unique gifts that God is willing to use.

It became obvious as the Bible study progressed that he had a profound love for the Scriptures. He could turn back and forth in his well-marked Bible to scriptures we all know, but which I can only locate with a concordance, and he seemed to have a grasp of their meaning. I made it a point to tell him before we adjourned that he had some gifts that he didn’t recognize in himself, such as knowledge and possibly even teaching. How hard it is sometimes to see our own gifts that others can often see clearly.

The conversation turned to a friend of his who was going to be baptized as a Seventh Day Adventist, and he expressed his dismay about someone going back to the ritualistic law and the Old Testament. Needless to say this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I told him that I am not an SDA, but I agree with much of what they teach, including the seventh-day Sabbath. He stated that Christians keep Sunday in honor of the resurrection, and that the specific day isn’t important anyway, but only that there should be a day of worship.

I asked him what day of the week we should worship God, and he said every day. I then asked him which day of the week we should rest, according to the Bible. The answer of course is the seventh day, which he knows. We should worship God every day, but rest on the seventh. He also seemed to absorb the concept that it is impossible to get three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. We discussed the concept of law from a Hebrew perspective (Torah is teaching or instruction in the Hebrew mind while to the European mind it is restricting of freedom). I pointed out that the ten commandments are a great law of freedom. What if everyone kept just one of those laws? What a great world it would be! However, the law doesn’t save you: it is merely a standard of conduct.

We read Jeremiah 31:31 and context, which relates that in the new covenant the law is written on our hearts and becomes a part of our very being. A Christian would never think of stealing or killing or cursing God, and the Sabbath is a part of that same law, a day each week to celebrate freedom. I told him that I had some literature with me on the Sabbath, and if he wanted it, I would give it to him after the study.

In thinking through his conversation, I can only wonder what transpired beforehand to lead him to want to talk about the Sabbath. Apparently his SDA friend had told him some things about how Sunday came to be the day. He said someone had told him that church changed to Sunday later, and that he saw the Sabbath throughout the New Testament. But more than that, I wonder if his friend asked him some questions he couldn’t answer, and whether he really is wondering about the Sabbath question. He mentioned at least twice that keeping the Sabbath would be difficult because it would cost him his job and he would have to depend on others for support. God wouldn’t want that, would he?

The conversation went to other areas, and after the study was concluded, he asked me for the literature on the Sabbath, which I was delighted to give him.

I wonder where this will lead and how God’s hand is and will be involved in the man’s journey, and whether the seeds that are planted will grow. And I wonder if I’ll learn of what road this man takes.

August 29, 1999:

We had five people join us today. One of them was not a trucker, but someone who was on a tour bus that had made a stop. He heard our announcement and joined us. Before he had finished telling us his story, tears were running down my cheeks.

The gentleman came to this country 13 years ago from Ethiopia. He was the son of an Orthodox priest, and a teenager when Haile Selassie was deposed and the communists took over the country. He told us of death squads and betrayals, being taken to jail by former friends, of the subversion of the YMCA by atheist/communist philosophy, of tortures inflicted in the prison. He remembers hearing his father awaken at 3AM, who then cried out to God asking how such could happen to his country.

It was in prison that he finally cried out to God for answers. Although nominally Christian, he had an experience that led to a conviction, and his life has been dedicated to God ever since. It was at this time that a religious revival began to take shape in his country.

After things calmed down a bit, he received a scholarship in India, and from there ended up in the United States.

After hearing him speak, it is obvious how we take for granted what we have in this country. Unfortunately he had to leave early to get back on his tour bus. It’s certainly a story I’ll never forget.

The other four participants today were actually two couples, one of whom was at one time a church pastor. All four have been students of the Bible for many years, and we had a mature discussion on many topics, including being a light, how to impact the culture around us, sharing one’s faith with others, church splits (these are not unique to the Churches of God - quite the contrary), and what about all those who never had a chance in this life? There was food for thought all around today.

Afterwards both couples mentioned how they miss having a place to “go to church” while they are on the road and expressed appreciation for the chance to get together with other Bible believers. That comment (and the story of the Ethiopian) was well worth the price of admission today.

September 5, 1999:

Today marked the two-year anniversary of these studies, and maybe what happened today was more than time and chance.

I was not able to be there due to a camping trip, but Arlo relayed the story, and it was an encouraging one indeed. His truckers today were a husband and wife driving team from Texas. They were using a Messianic Jewish Bible (Old and New Testaments). And these people are trying to become Sabbath keepers. In fact that is all they wanted to talk about.

They are familiar with Herbert Armstrong and his US and Britain in Prophecy book, and have friends in the United Church of God. This is one of those days when I wish I could have been there, if for no other reason than to listen in and to be a part of the experience.

Arlo is going to send them more literature and information by mail.

In thinking back over the past couple of months, I am struck by the interest several truckers have had in the Sabbath, to some extent by our prodding, but in at least two instances (this being the second) someone had planted a seed before us, and we were allowed to water it. It is humbling beyond description to see the hand of God working in a very real way with people whom we see face to face. We ask your prayers that we can continue to use the truck stop and that God will continue to use the Bible study to teach people about him.

Lenny Cacchio
705 NE Bryant Drive, Lee’s Summit, Missouri 64086

 

[Even though I have said it before, I will say again that I believe these truckers studies contain vauable lessons with how to reach others with the Gospel. Sometimes they are extremely encouraging for all involved. At other times, there are problems to overcome. But it is quite possible to see that two men with donated time, a donated room and some donated literature are able to help many to personally seek the Bible and Christ’s direction in their life. The help provided will have lasting value—it is not pointing the students to any one group or teacher. Everyone has different gifts—we cannot all teach truckers. But we can realize that it is possible for us to be effective in serving others without great expense or a big organization. —NSE]


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