Trucker’s burden for ministry leads to I-20 truckers’ chapel

Trucker’s burden for ministry leads to I-20 truckers’ chapel

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

Harold Griffitt had always wanted to drive a truck. It was a desire he couldn’t shake so when he retired from his career at a paper mill he went to truck driving school.

He drove six years and he loved it.

But he came off the road in 2008 — the year he rededicated his life to the Lord — with a different vision that he couldn’t shake: He wanted to start a ministry to truckers.

It took him a while to get that cranked up too.

“I went into jail ministry and did that for nine years, but I never stopped thinking about what God had laid on my heart,” Griffitt said.

And when he finally mentioned it to Randy Hagan, director of missions for Coosa River Baptist Association, Hagan got excited.

“Harold proposed the idea about putting a ministry up and hosting worship services for truck drivers at a truck stop,” he said.

And Hagan loved it. Interstate 20 cuts right through the middle of Coosa River Association, so it seemed like a needed ministry. To get an idea of how something like that could work, he went and visited the state’s other truck stop ministry, a chapel off I-10 in Robertsdale.

And then he and Griffitt started putting their heads together.

“We decided to look into getting a portable classroom and we were struggling to find one we could afford,” Hagan said.

Then someone offered to give them a mobile classroom purchased after the tornadoes in 2011, a facility that was practically new. Now the truckers’ chapel had a building — it just needed a place to sit.

A couple of possible truck stops popped up along the way then got shut down, Hagan said. But then Ken Allen Sr., a member of First Baptist Church, Talladega, said they could put the chapel at the truck stop he owned at Embry Crossroads. In fact, he said it was an answer to prayer.

“He had been praying for there to be a ministry like that for 20 years,” Griffitt said.

With that providential permission, Hagan and Griffitt powered on — only to be quickly stopped by the local government. But even that got cleared up as local officials allowed zoning changes to help the chapel open.

And in August 2017, The Truckers’ Chapel at the Embry Crossroads exit held its first service. It’s been a slow start, Griffitt said. Sometimes he only has one person attend. Other times he has several. But every Sunday and Wednesday he is there faithfully inviting truckers to come to Bible study.

“We’re just out there to reach America’s truckers for Christ,” said Griffitt, a member of First Baptist Church, Oak Grove, in Sylacauga.

It’s hard to reach them but they’re reachable, he said.

Hagan said Griffitt’s faithfulness is challenging and encouraging — he’s faithful on the days when truckers get offended by the invitation to worship and he’s faithful when he only gets to talk or pray with one person on any given day.

It could get heavy on a person’s heart, Hagan said, but he and Griffitt both know God has knocked down too many doors to get them there for it not to be where He wants them.

“It’s a ministry that’s got to be there for the long haul, because you really have to earn the trust of truckers,” Hagan said. “Our results have not been tremendous, they’ve been small so far — but the reward is great. God’s got us there and I believe there is a divine appointment for some trucker down the road. Our goal is to be there to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.”