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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

    news article

    Sharing God’s love on the highway

    November 14, 2017 / By Chaplain Bruce Maxwell, Deacon of Upper New York, serving in Susquehanna Conference

    “Compassionate hospitality can reveal Christ in God moments...”

    The Breezewood, PA Trucker and Traveler Ministry is a highway workplace ministry at a crossroads in South Central Pennsylvania. We endeavor to live out a gospel witness in a very public setting guided by the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Chaplaincy is a Christian outreach of prayer, presence, counsel, hospitality, and emergency assistance to truck drivers, their families, travelers, and local area employees.

    Local business, civic groups, and churches/regional church bodies are partners in the chaplaincy providing numerous resources for ministry. We operate within the two Breezewood Travel Plazas (office location at the Gateway Travel Plaza, across from TV lounge) providing a space for counsel and prayer, as well a helping to support meals, lodging, gas, and transportation for those in need. Partner churches provide resources for Travel Plaza hospitality tables, faith literature/devotionals/CDs/ Bibles, and hygiene traveler care packages- among other forms of outreach. Additionally, we serve as a ministry location for Wesley Theological Seminary “Immersion” students.

    Serving as Chaplain in this setting has unfolded a calling of Deacon (class of 1997), providing daily opportunities to build bridges of faith in a very commercial- marketplace setting. God is alive on the highways, as we hear and share stories of Christ’s love and redemption among the many precious souls we encounter.

    In this travel-plaza setting, how do we know where to go, what to say, what to do? God has been gracious in opening doors for a ministry presence and arranging divine encounters within the numerous businesses of Breezewood; we are here by invitation and we don’t take that for granted. Our conversations, emergency assistance offers, and prayer opportunities happen at coffee counters, in a garage, general store, restaurant, parking lot, TV lounge, laundry room, or outside a motel room in the transient community of Breezewood. This place is known as “the town of motels” or the “gateway to the South,” where Interstate 76 (PA Turnpike), meets Interstate 70 and Route 30 (the original Lincoln Highway).

    We seek to be guided by the Holy Spirit, as a core group of 15 board directors, we discern and chart a course of mission and ministry in the world of truckers and travelers.

    Compassionate hospitality can reveal Christ in God moments, such as offering a listening ear as a trucker unloads the frustrations of interstate commerce, or providing food and lodging to a foot traveler, or steering a “run-away” spouse back to his/her family.

    Bible study discussions can bring insights to encourage a sagging faith, or pastoral conversations in the ministry office can unleash cleansing tears, affirming hope in a healing prayer.

    Plaza ministry may be unique, but isn’t all ministry unique? Fresh expressions of ministry are being birthed anew in every time, place, and season! Each day in trucker/traveler ministry is a new chapter written in real time.

    Editor's Note: This article was originally published in our Fall 2017 issue of the Advocate, which focused on sharing God's love with our neighbors in all places.

    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."