- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2006

KINGDOM CITY, Mo. — The highway billboards in this part of central Missouri advertise rock-bottom prices on adult videos and getaways to the Ozark Mountains. But at the truck stop just off Interstate 70, Chaplain Bob Holt is making another kind of promise to weary truckers: salvation.

For eight years, Mr. Holt has led daily services from a converted trailer parked in a truck stop — a place he sees as filled with temptation. And yesterday he and fellow missionaries at nearly 100 travel plaza chapels across the countryheld a morning fellowship meeting to celebrate their calling on the seventh annual National Day of Prayer for Truckers.

“The devil’s trying to keep them from coming in here,” said Mr. Holt, standing in his modest trailer.

“Every time the truckers stop, there’s ladies that come around and pick on the door,” the 74-year-old retired commercial driver said. “But if you just let them talk for a few minutes, you can figure out what their needs are. Then we’re able to pray about those needs.”

The romance of the road and chance to make an independent living have helped steer more than 2.5 million truckers into the business, but weeks away from home make for a solitary life aggravated by tight drop-off schedules.

“There isn’t a product that you’re wearing that hasn’t been handled by a trucker,” said Bob Hataway, a former truck driver, who was to lead the prayer at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. “We wanted to put on a red letter event to focus on the needs of truckers. They need our prayers.”

Christian truckers say chapels and organizations such as Mr. Hataway’s TransAlive USA, Inc., which helps drivers who have been hospitalized, are an oasis from a subculture of foul-mouthed radio chatter and truck stops sometimes rife with prostitution.

Hundreds of volunteers staff ministries at truck-stop chapels from Fort Wayne, Ind., to Madera, Calif. Mr. Holt’s mission at the Exit 148 stop in east-central Missouri is one of the country’s most active, with services each night of the week and on Sunday mornings.

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