By Linda Porter Carlyle
Joseph Anderson Donetti looked around the classroom. Nope. No missionary yet. Pastor Chuck had promised last week that they would have a special guest today. A real missionary. Joseph Anderson Donetti had heard about missionaries, of course, but he had never actually seen a real missionary before.
“What do you think he’ll look like?” Joseph whispered in Mac’s ear.
“I hope he’s wearing strange and exotic clothes!” Mac whispered back. “Don’t you just love that word exotic? What country do you think he’s a missionary in?”
“I think China. Or maybe Africa,” Joseph muttered. “There are lots of missionaries in China and Africa.”
“Maybe Mexico,” Trevor put in from behind them. “I met a real missionary once who works in Mexico!”
Just then Pastor Chuck and a tall stranger walked through the classroom door. The stranger wore a red western shirt and blue jeans with a big round silver belt buckle. Joseph shook his head. That couldn’t be the missionary! He looked like half the men in Jacksonville.
“Hey, everybody, I want you to meet my new friend Mr. Benson.” Pastor Chuck grinned at the class. “He’s the guest I told you about last week.”
Joseph poked Mac. “Those are not strange and exotic clothes!” he whispered.
“Mr. Benson is a missionary. He’s a missionary to truckers,” Pastor Chuck said. “I think I’ll just let him tell you about what he does.”
Mr. Benson put down the paper bag he was holding. He smiled at the class. “Maybe you all have noticed that there are a lot of trucks out there on the highways nowadays,” he began.
Joseph nodded. He liked watching the big rigs when he and G.M. drove down the interstate. He especially liked watching the really big ones—the ones that were three trailers long.
“Not many of the truckers you see out there on the road know Jesus,” Mr. Benson continued. “They may hear His name used every day—but only as a swear word. They don’t really know anything about Him. They don’t know that He came to earth and died to save them. They don’t know that He has gone to heaven to prepare a place for them to be with Him always. So that’s my job. To tell as many truckers as I can the good news about Jesus.”
“Tell us what you do during the day,” Pastor Chuck suggested.
“I work at a big truck stop up the highway,” Mr. Benson said. “We have a trailer parked there. It has been fixed up inside as a chapel. A chapel is a little church. Every day I talk to truckers who are lonely or depressed. I have church services there in the chapel too. I just tell the truckers about Jesus. I tell them how they can be go to heaven and live with Jesus forever. I teach them how to pray. I give them a free Bible if they say they will read it. Last week when I gave a man a Bible, tears came to his eyes. He said he’d never, ever had a Bible before.”
Trevor’s hand shot up. “Why didn’t he buy a Bible for himself if he wanted one?” he asked.
“That’s a good question,” Mr. Benson said. “A person doesn’t have a reason to buy a Bible for himself unless he has been introduced to Jesus. But when he has been introduced to Jesus, he definitely wants to have a Bible. He can’t wait to learn more about Him.”
Mr. Benson picked up the bag he had brought. He pulled out a plastic container. It looked like a take-home box from a restaurant. “I want to show you a sample of what we do at Christmas,” he said. “We fill these boxes with homemade cookies. We put in a little note from me that tells the driver the cookies were made by Christian friends from churches in our area. We put in a tape of Bible verses that the trucker can listen to as he drives. Last year we handed out 300 boxes. Mostly to truckers, some to tourists. Tourists need to know about Jesus too,” he added.
“What could the boys and girls here do if they wanted to help you with your mission work?” Pastor Chuck asked.
Mr. Benson smiled. “Pray for me,” he answered in his deep voice. “Prayer is the most important thing. And if they want to, they could contribute money to help buy the Bibles we give away. And if there are any good bakers out there, we’ll be needing lots of homemade cookies at Christmas time!”
“We could do that!” Mac exclaimed, bouncing up and down. “We could all pray for sure! And maybe we could have a making-Christmas-cookies-for-truckers party!” she suggested, looking at Pastor Chuck. “That would be really fun!”
Joseph stood up. He dug into his pants pocket and pulled out a dollar bill. He handed the money to Mr. Benson. “I want to help pay for Bibles,” he said.