Rural Missouri - February 2014 - (Page 8)

Truck-stop chaplain Rich Seveska says a prayer with truck drivers Renee Presey and Raymond Taulbee at the TA Travel Center in Foristell. Rich, who has been a truck-stop chaplain for 14 years, goes to the travel center to minister to truck drivers and other travelers every Thursday evening. Ministering to motorists Foristell author offers conversation, faith to truck drivers along I-70 by Paul Newton their life and family, I can get through to them." The ministry is intended to offer a listening ear and advice, when needed, to the truck drivers who may not get it often, explains Rich, who will turn 70 fter spending a long, cold December day in June. staring through his windshield, driver Don "Driving a truck can be a rotten job sometimes. Platko was sitting alone at the truck stop They put in long hours, have strict deadlines and restaurant when a stranger approached. their day can be thrown off by traffic or weather. It's "Hi, I'm the chaplain around here. Just swinging by a lot of pressure," Rich says shortly after restocking to say hello," the stranger, Rich Seveska, says before a shelf outside the drivers' television room with a the two carry on a conversation shifting seamlessly Bible, a weekly ritual. "And the divorce rate among from trucks to Don's family to holiday plans. truckers is really high." This was just a normal Thursday evening for Rich, Because of those reasons, longtime truck-stop reswho volunteers at the TA Travel Center truck stop taurant server Lynda Bowenkamp says it can be diffioff of Interstate 70 in Foristell nearly every week cult for the truck drivers to have any meaningful ministering to a group of people who communication while they're on the road. spend a majority of their time in soli"Some people drive a truck because they tude - truck drivers. want to be alone, but a lot of people drive Rich has been involved in truck-stop Foristell a truck and they're lonely," she says. "So ministry for the past 14 years - 11 years to have someone introduce themselves in the Chicago area and three in Foristell. and talk to them - they appreciate it. It "Back then, the church realized there makes them feel like they're at home." were more than 8 million truckers on the On top of just having someone to road every day, and not many people were talk to, Rich says it's the type of conversareally ministering to them," says Rich, who tion he affords truckers that can make a difference. is a deacon at St. Patrick Catholic Parish in Wentz"They can talk about the road, the weather and ville. "I think our ministry is unique, though. We're their truck to the other drivers," he says. "But when only around to talk with them. We don't beat them it comes down to talking about their family and up with a Bible and try and convert them." what they really care about, their faith, they can talk Rich, a Cuivre River Electric Cooperative memto me." ber who lives in rural Foristell with his wife, Kathy, While Rich enjoys talking to the drivers about was ordained 26 years ago. He has participated in their faith, lives and any issues they may be dealing outreach ministry before, working with hospital with, he says a difficult part for him is that due to patients and their families, as well as prison inmates. the transient nature of the truck-driving profession, He says ministering to truck drivers is a completely the conversation usually ends at the truck stop. different type of outreach, however. "That's one of the problems with this ministry is "At prisons, for example, people are expecting that you don't usually know what happens after you you to come in and just perform some kind of magic talk to them," Rich explains. "Once in a great while, and everything will be all right," explained Rich. someone will call back or show up on the night I'm "At the truck stop, you have to walk up to the tables at the truck stop to tell me what happened." and engage them. Some people don't want to talk or Rich's ministry ranges from casual conversation have anything to do with me - which is perfectly with patrons to active participation. Some may not OK - but most of the time, if we start talking about A 8 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP be interested in company, and Rich carries on. Some instantly ask him to pray with them or bless them, and he obliges. "When you approach people in a way that's nonthreatening, they're more likely to talk with you and ask you to sit down with them," Rich says. "And once you're talking, they may have some incredible story about an accident that happened and how they survived. They'll ask, 'What does it mean Rich?' I try and help them understand what it means and the purpose of surviving." One time a driver who had been on the road all day and looked exhausted confided in Rich that he learned his wife had left their house - and apparently him - and he wanted to drive the eight hours Rich talks to a truck driver as he eats dinner. http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2014

Rural Missouri - February 2014
Ministering to motorists
A mid-winter read
Fighting more than fires
Out of the Way Eats
Metal & music
Honest Abe
Hearth and Home
The Missouri Dinosaur
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - February 2014