Walk into any truckstop across the United States, and chances are that a Highway Melodies volunteer has stopped there. These volunteers place more than 60,000 Bibles in 700 participating truckstops across the nation every year.
HMI Ministries was founded in 1974 by truck driver Raleigh Huls, who thought that truckers needed special attention that regular churches and organizations couldn’t give to over-the-road drivers. He began the non-profit organization and dedicated it to “spreading the word of God to our nation’s truck drivers.”
The special Truckers’ Bibles used by HMI are printed and delivered at a cost of 90 cents each, or $50.40 for a case of 56.
“All the costs for the Bibles are covered by sponsors,” says Carol Vruggink, office administrator and the only full-time employee for the organization. “We don’t sell anything – we offer these Bibles for free.” Vruggink says the ministry has evolved so that it’s self-operating.
“It just goes on its own,” she says. “People hear about it, and get churches or businesses to sponsor them. We have lots of truckers who just leave Bibles in their regular stops on their routes, travelers who go on vacations that leave them along the way, and retirees who go to truckstops.”
Jene Quirin, the first vice chairman of the NATSO Board of Directors, has participated in the organization since 1982. Quirin owns the Alpine Auto/Truck Plaza in Bridgeport, Mich.; he has a standing order for Bibles and tapes that he places in the store.
“A lot of people think the Bibles just sit there, but they don’t,” Quirin says. “We go through them like crazy – I can hardly count how many we put out.”
Quirin says that the ministry is successful because it’s so simple.
“Truck drivers are hurting people, just like everybody else,” Quirin says. “Truckstop waitresses and cashiers aren’t counselors. They don’t have the answers to everybody’s problems. We can hand these people a Bible, and tell them, ‘Go read this, and maybe you’ll find something in it that will help.”
Keeping Bibles stocked in more than 700 truckstops across the nation and responding to inquiries or follow-up requests is a lot of work. Volunteer distribution coordinator Sid Cnossen and his wife, Tess, travel the highways, check on truckstops, begin new displays, and recruit new volunteers. Cnossen is a retired driver; he drove for Capital Express out of Grand Rapids, Mich., before he began working with HMI. The couple has distributed more than 39,000 Bibles in 625 truckstops since joining the ministry in 1987.
“I drove a truck all my life before I began doing this,” Cnossen says. “I know the things that get truckers down, and I believe we can help make a difference.”
Cnossen coordinates the efforts of volunteers who stock displays with materials. He also processes orders for Bibles, and is in charge of stocking several truckstops. Cnossen and his wife keep a travel diary of their experiences on the road that is published in the quarterly newsletter.
In the April 2001 newsletter, a letter from a trucker’s widow was included in the “Mailbag” section.
“My husband was an over-the-road trucker for a very long time,” she wrote. “He died last November while on a trip. I believe it may have been your organization that provided him with a Trucker’s Bible, which he said he had read every night. He never read the Bible much before that, and was able to relate to the one you provided. He told me that he had accepted Christ as his Savior, and I believe he now rests in heaven. He went to heaven with his Trucker’s Bible in his hand.”
The trucker’s widow now displays Bibles and tapes in truckstops in the Tampa area to honor her husband’s memory, and she also volunteers with HMI.
For more information on HMI Ministries, go to www.hmiministries.org, or call (800) 452-0951.