CHAPTER 18.MOBILE AMERICANS

12/23/16

A.                MOBILE AMERICANS AS A MISSION FIELD

There are groups of people in the United States whose jobs keep them moving about the country. Their life-styles remove them from home, friends, community and church. If those people are to be exposed to the gospel, it will probably be in their "ports of call," those places where they stop periodically. Seamen and truckers are two groups whose jobs keep them constantly on the move. Migrants are another group; however, their work is seasonal, for they move north with the maturing of the crops. Most migrants are Hispanic; therefore they are treated in chapter 5. Lumberjacks also move about the lumber camps. They are mostly French-speaking.

Americans love to travel. Opportunities for Christian ministry arise in times of emergency, despair, and loneliness. Even vacation centers become mission fields. Some missionaries have targeted those who gather at America's race tracks as a group in need of evangelization. There are groups in America whose unconventional life-styles make them unchurched. The gypsies are such a mobile group.

B.                 JOB-RELATED MOBILITY

1.                  SEAMEN 1.5 MILLION

Four hundred fifty thousand seamen ply the seas of the world. The United States is a regular port of call for many. Most merchant seamen have never heard the Good News and few know Christ as Savior. Time spent by these seamen on shore leave becomes an opportunity for alert Christians to engage seamen in conversation about spiritual matters.

There are over 100 ports in the United States. Ports like Baltimore, Houston, and San Francisco service between 4,000 and 5,000 ships annually. Crew members come from many different countries and speak a variety of languages.

Many are fluent in English; others are not. Another factor is that many have nothing to do.

Max Ward, field representative of the Seamen's International Christian Association (SICA), says that merchant seamen are "some of the most neglected people in the world." They need the gospel presented to them in a way that is meaningful. Home missionaries working with SICA are surely doing "foreign" mission work as they hand out tracts and Scripture portions in numerous languages.

SICA was founded in 1935 after pastor Tom Wright was challenged by a ferry boat captain with the searching question "Tell me, pastor, why is it all of the taverns and honky-tonks are interested in my men, and none of you fellows are?" The mission he founded maintains workers in selected ports around the country and plans to staff every port as personnel are available.

Mission to Seafarers [2010 was Seamen 1836] work in 200 ports in 50 countries

2.                  MARINAS

Cities built along coastal waters, such as in the state of Florida, maintain marinas for fishermen and boating enthusiasts. Those frequenting the marinas are oftentimes not under the sound of the Gospel. Drive-In Ministries , headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, outfitted a boat from which they could briefly present the Gospel in unique ways to capture the attention of boaters who frequent the marinas. Follow-up is done by Bible correspondence courses and referral to a Gospel preaching church near the home of those who respond.

Don and Faye Clarke, missionaries under Outpost Mission, Inc., have maintained a marina ministry in Port Charlotte, Florida, for 15 years. Don says that marinas are gathering places for pleasure seeking lost souls who need to hear that Jesus Saves. In the marinas where there is a ‘book exchange’, the Clarkes supply Christian books which may be taken by those desiring something to read while they are out in the boat. The Clarkes sometimes live on their boat, the ‘Hoi Douloi’, as a floating mission station, and tie-up at various marinas up and down the coast where they port to bring a witness for Christ. Don says that more and more theirs is an international ministry, for people from all over the world frequent the marinas. In Port Charlotte, however, they spend a lot of time at the marina befriending anyone who will listen. Often they invite people to their home, which they have dubbed, ‘Hospitality House’ for a meal, or to stay for the night or longer as an extension of their ministry in follow-up, discipleship and encouraging their contacts to attend a Gospel preaching local church. They publish a monthly newsletter in which they share stirring testimonies of those whose lives are turned around for Christ.

3.                  TRUCKERS

The National Association of Truck Stops Owners and operators indicates there are six million truckers US and 2.5 million in Canada who maintain a vital lifeline of the country. Many of these owner/operators are Christian or sympathetic allowing Christian ministry to the truckers. If the workers in the truck stops are included, the figure jumps to 20 million. The life of the trucker consists of living out of a suitcase, sleeping in motels, eating and refueling at truck stops, and ultimately arriving at a terminal. By law he can drive only so many hours and then he must lay over. Such a life-style lends itself to drugs and alcohol, gambling, prostitutes, domestic problems, and a very high divorce rate, for he may be home only one day in six. There is little opportunity for these men to be reached by the ministry of the local church. In fact, the truck may become the driver's god, according to one trucker's chaplain.

TRANSPORT FOR CHRIST, INC. (TFC) was established in 1951 to minister to the specialized spiritual, emotional, and social needs peculiar to men in the trucking industry. TFC has 29 chaplains who minister in 17 chapels in truck terminals in the US and 2 in Canada.

The ministry takes place appropriately in chapels that are refurbished eighteen-wheelers. By means of pulpit and video screen the message is proclaimed to "people who live and work in a world seldom touched by routine church programs." . In such locations weary truckers can find a chaplain who knows the peculiar language of the trucking world and understands his special needs. Truckers are unique and often plagued with times of loneliness and depression.

TFC publishes for truckers a newspaper called the Highway News and Good News, which has a monthly circulation of 35,000. It also publishes tracts and annually distributes 20,000 Bibles, which have been given the title "Road Map of Life." The mission has divided the country into two regions and sponsors an annual gathering of Christian truckers. The ministry is now international with work in Russia.

THE ASSOCIATION OF CHRISTIAN TRUCKERS [ACT]. In 1977 Jim Keys founded  ACT as a charismatic counterpart of TFC. They claim dozens of chapters spread across the country. They sponsor truckers' jamborees and publish a newspaper called Wheels Alive. Their mobile chapel is likened to an electronic church.

OVER THE ROAD EVANGELISM [ORE]. Dan Robinson, a converted truck driver and mechanic, along with his wife, Shirley, travel the highways in their mobile home looking for truckers whose rigs have broken down. He carries his own tools, and while making free repairs, shares his testimony. The Robinsons are founders of ORE, which now has two mobile units traveling the nation's highways, ministering to men of the trucking industry.

TRUCKIN’ FOR JESUS [TFJ] is another mission ministering to the world of eighteen-wheelers. The Citizen's Band Radio (CB) can be an opportunity to visit with a lonely trucker and tell the Good News. Channel 12 is where much of this conversation takes place. Other opportunities abound in the terminal, not only with the truckers but also with dockmen and terminal managers.

HIGHWAY MELODIES, INC.[HM], founded in 1973, distributes 65,000 New Testaments to truckers annually in 750 truck stops. Bible display racks are placed in the truck stop and serviced by interested Christians and churches. An 800-334-7017 phone number is printed in each NT and the trucker is encouraged to call and talk to a Christian friend. Raleigh Huls, the founder/director of HM indicates they have distributed 600,000 New Testaments to truckers.

I-20 FOR JESUS INTERSTATE MISSIONARIES, was founded by Ray Sisk. They produce cassette tapes of messages and Christian music for truckers. In 1995 they gave away 10,000 tapes. Each tape encourages the trucker to pray for other truckers as they pass each mile marker. That is a good idea for all drivers. The tapes also encourage the driver to share the tape with another trucker.

There are at least 17 organized ministries reaching out to truckers.

4.        CONSTRUCTION WORKERS

CONSTRUCTION WORKERS CHRISTRIAN FELLOWSHIP [CWCF] operates out of Kelso, Washington. They are better known as Hard Hats for Christ [HHC]. Their stated purpose is: A network of volunteers dedicated to telling others the Good News about God's love, encouraging one another, and assisting Christian ministries with construction and maintenance projects. They have full time members as well as volunteers, such as RV'ers for Christ, who join them for various projects. Their desire is: "serving those who serve others, promoting Christ in construiction at home and abroad, connecting craftsmen, outh and minisgtries to accomplish quality building projexts for trhw flory of God, using building skills to further the Gospel". Another ministry of HHC is Building In Youth: by "mentoring youth to build godly character through construction training". They teach high school youth how to use tools in projects like building 'handicap ramps' etc.

SOWERS = Servants On Wheels Ever Ready Serve  [1984], is a group of RVers who are retired, have their own rig and travel of a work site and stay for three weeks to complete a project. The host of the project provides a hookup for the rig and project materials. They service missions or churches etc.

MISSION BUILDERS INTERNATIONAL is an arm of Youth With A Mission [YWAM] 1960. Office in Lakeside, MT

MOBILE MISSIONARY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM [MMAP] Chrisitan RVers = Workers on Wheels. Office in Calimasa, CA

ROVING VOLUNTEERS IN CHRIST'S SERVICE [RVICS] [1977] Office in Smithville, TXing youth to build godly character through construction training.

C.                TRAVELERS

AIR TERMINALS. Millions of Americans travel each year on business and for pleasure. A growing number travel by air. In the course of a day, myriad’s of persons pass through air terminals. For some there are long layovers that can be tiring, frustrating, boring, and nerve wracking. Both young and old can find a large airport a frightening experience. In some instances the travel has been occasioned by a tragedy or some other traumatic experience. Sea-Tac Ministries was instituted in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, Washington, to be of service to those who pass through the airport each day. Airport Chaplains is one of the divisions of Sea-Tac Ministries. The chaplains and volunteers minister to the spiritual needs of the travelers. This ministry should be expanded to include all major airports.

Numerous airline personnel work in the terminal serving the public. They, too, have spiritual needs. Four air terminals (Chicago's O'Hare, Greater Pittsburgh, Kennedy, Atlanta) have official chaplains, but they are of a cooperative nature, serving several religious groups. The Fellowship of Christian Airline Personnel is a group of believers in the airlines who want to give a positive witness on their job and to fellowship around the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The ministry includes placing Christian books in conspicuous places for the personnel to borrow. An annual convention is held to encourage fellowship in the national ministry. A group of 200 has formed a prayer fellowship to pray for an effective testimony for Christ on the airlines.

TAXIS. For those who travel by taxi, Claude Frazier has established a ministry called Bible Taxi Ministry. It consists of placing Bible portions in taxi cabs for customers to read and take with them. The American Bible Society has prepared special Bible portions to be used. Unique aprons are prepared with three pockets to hold the portions. The aprons are tied to the driver's seat for display of the portions. Local churches are able to receive complete details for the beginning this innovative and inexpensive ministry by writing to Bobby Sunderland, director of Mass Evangelism Department, of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

RAILROADS. Although railroads are not as extensive as they once were, many people still travel by rail. The Railroad Evangelistic Association places Christian literature in depots and on the trains as permitted.

MOTELS/HOTELS. In the process of traveling, it is necessary at times to include an overnight in a motel or hotel. The Gideons place Bibles in these public residences. Another ministry to the residents of motels and hotels is that of a volunteer chaplain. Carl Hirt, director of the Chaplaincy Division of the Home Mission Board of the SBC, claims that "most motel managers recognize the minister's invaluable role and welcome his assistance." Only a few major motel chains actively enlist clergymen as motel chaplains, but most of them will respond favorably when the idea is suggested. The ministry could include the personnel of the motel and their families.

D.                VACATIONERS - non church goers

Americans love to take vacations. Tourism is a multimillion-dollar industry. Seldom do those who are traveling on Sunday take time to find a church in which to worship. That is especially true of those on vacation. Several organizations are concerned for the spiritual well-being of vacationing Americans or those who do not frequent a local church. DRIVE-IN MINISTRIES of Prattville, AL, seeks to reach this vast segment of society through film evangelism. A permanent facility in AL is being developed to feature live music programs and films. The traveler looking for something to do during an evening can very easily come under the sound of the gospel.

Drive-In Ministries also maintains a mobile Drive-In tractor trailer rig with a portable stage and screen that sets up in resort areas. Each ministry operates under the umbrella of a local church in the area. Drive-In currently operates in US and places rigs internationally. An individual professing Christ receives personal follow-up, including enrollment in a Bible correspondence course.

The NATIONAL PARKS of our country are beautiful and available for ministry. A CHRISTIAN MINISTRY IN THE NATIONAL PARKS [www.acmnp.com] was established in 1951 and now operates in sixty national parks in twenty-three states. It is a unique Christian outreach that extends the mission and ministry of the church to the millions of people who live, work, and vacation in our national parks.

CAMPING is very popular among those who are the outdoors type. Campsite Evangelism is a witness to family campers in areas open to the public for recreational purposes. The ministry involves tract distribution, evangelistic services, and a ministry to children. The ministry began in 1968 and now includes twenty campsites. Husband and wife teams are usually assigned to campgrounds, of which there are some 16,000. It is a large mission field, for 1.7 million frequent campsites. In the North campsites are very seasonal, but in the south, they are year round. Campsite Evangelism is a home mission working in the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Florida. The ministry will expand as personnel are available. Campers on Mission has motto: "serving as we go" in camp grounds, youth camps, construction, fairs, etc

E.                 OTHERS

1.                  RACE TRACK PERSONNEL

All kinds of professional racing takes place in America and Americans gather at race tracks to participate in various ways. Horace W. Roberts recognized the spiritual needs of those who gather at the nation's race tracks and founded the RACE TRACK CHAPLAINCY OF AMERICA [1972] "Taking God's Grace to the Race". There are over 30 chaplains listed in the RTCA Good News Paper published by the mission. The executive director, indicates that it is the desire of the mission to place personnel, as available, on every race track facility to lead souls to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. OnTrack Ministries seek to "share the love, the hope and the peace found in the Lord Jesus Christ with the racing community.  Our goal is to connect the racing community to Christ and His church." There is a National Fellowship Raceway Ministries.

Motor Racing Outreach [1909]– Lonnie and Angela Clouse are chaplains with MRO at motor speedways, Nascar.

2.                  GYPSIES

Gypsies are an ancient group of people who originated in the 14th century in India, where half of them still live. They number perhaps 50 million [in 2001] and speak over thirty languages. They love to move about and have spread all over the world, though the largest number live in central Europe [10 to 14 million], where they are stalked by xenophobia which is sweeping Europe. The director of Hispanic Gypsy Outreach and the general secretary of the Gypsy churches of Spain reports that a million European Gypsies have become Christians. Their appears to be a revival among them and they are making a real effort to educate their children. Thousands are witnessing in France. They tend to adopt the religions of the countries where they live. Today there are Moslem, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Gypsies.

About 8,000 of Britain’s 30,000 Gypsies have become Christians between 1985-1995. Gypsy Christians from England take aid to fellow Gypsies in Romania and Albania. Recently 60,000 Gypsies from across Europe attended a Light of Life conference in France.

Their history is full of discrimination, banishments, torturings, and killings. Hitler exterminated 600,000 Gypsies in gas chambers.

No one knows how many there are in the United States, but estimates range up to 1,000,000 [1999]. Probably they number about 500,000. Gypsies are now an urban people who are found in all fifty states. Because of their unconventional life-style they are functionally illiterate and cannot read or write their own language, Romany. Most of the women are palm readers and supply the bulk of the family income. The men work some of the time at jobs where they can be absent at will. Gypsies refer to themselves as Rom, or man.

In recent years many of the Rom have become sedentary, but they are still essentially an insecure people. Fifteen thousand have settled in Los Angeles and 10,000 in Chicago. The largest Gypsy concentrations are to be found in New York, Virginia, Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts, and the Pacific Coast. Gypsies are difficult to win to Christ because they believe that the non-Gypsy is polluted or unclean; therefore, anything touched by the non-Gypsy is dirty. Gypsies are also very family oriented and live in a closed society which legislates intermarriage. The family gives a Gypsy whatever sense of security he may have and helps make every decision. He is almost never alone except with another Rom.

Gypsies love to deceive non-Gypsies. They maintain several nicknames they use freely to escape detection by anyone in authority. They seek to exist "beyond the pale of public morality." Gypsies do not want to become a functioning part of American society. They will not assimilate. They will not give up their unique identity or renounce their culture.

A few Gypsies have found Christ as Savior. When they do they usually leave the Gypsy culture, thus removing any continuing witness. Gypsy Smith is perhaps the most famous of several dozen Gypsy evangelists in Great Britain. Many were influenced by the Salvation Army.

Christian ministry among Gypsies is minimal, including Operation Mobilization and the Assemblies of God. The AOG claim to have reached several thousands with the gospel and report 1,000 full-gospel Gypsies in the nation. Theodore Gannon, national director of the Division of Home Missions, indicates that most of the evangelism being done among Gypsies is being done by the Gypsies themselves.  Sonnie Gilebard, a Romany Prince and grandson of  well known evangelist Gypsie Smith is chairman of Gypsies for Christ.

In 1996, Trans World Radio began broadcasting in Romani in Europe. Two Gypsy pastors are the announcers on perhaps the only Gospel broadcasts in their language. The program scripts are produced by Words of Hope [Grand Rapids, MI], and translated into Romani. Baptist missionaries are doing the followup.

In 1996, TWR began broadcasting in Romani in Europe, perhaps the only broadcasts in their language. Two Gypsie pastors are announcers. They use scripts provided by Words of Hope [Grand Rapids, MI], and translate. Baptist missionaries are doing the followup.

SGM International has prepared a Romany diglot entitled, ‘The Drom [The Way]’, which came off the press in 1995. The cover bears a picture of a Gypsy caravan and tells the way back to God, using the story of the prodigal son. It is printed in 5 Gypsy colors: red, blue, green, black and white.

3.                  BIKERS [MOTOR CYCLISTS]

There are thousands of bikers who love to polish and ride their bikes to work, on vacation or just to go riding. Some bikers belong to an organization called, the ‘Christian Motorcycle Association’ and seek to bring a Christian witness to their unsaved friends.

However, a nearly unreached segment of this mobile people group is the motorcycle gangs called the ‘Outlaw Bikers’. Some belong to powerful national organizations such as the Pagans, Warlocks or the Wheels of Soul and others to more local gangs. This people group allegedly is into drugs, pornography, prostitution, revelry and excess as a lifestyle including contract killing. Their rights of passage include seeking to outdo one another in basic badness, while using their own body language and dialect which is full of invectives and extremely foul.


The motorcycle is often a Harley-Davidson and is far more than just transportation, it is an extension of himself, and is a statement of his identity. His worldview is ‘anti-establishment’ and ‘anti-God’. His clothes are leather and jeans. Bob [Doc] Campanell was one of these outlaw bikers who was gloriously saved and now seeks to bring a witness to this people group. He says that the outlaw biker counterculture began with renegade Special Forces ex-servicemen in 1952. The first club was, the ‘Hell’s Angels’ which rampaged through Howister, CA, commiting all kinds of atrocities. President Truman denounced them and said that one percent of motorcyclists were incorrigible outlaws. A hardcore group of bikers began to call themselves ‘One Percenters’, the worst of the worst. Doc was a One Percenter and indicates that the One Percenters are the inner core of all six major motorcycle clubs.

It is obvious that this people group needs the Lord and are perhaps one of the most difficult to reach. A Christian motorcycle group called the Sons of God seek to convey Biblical Truth to these bikers. The most effective witness to the biker is by a One Percenter who has come to Christ. The identification mark of a diamond shaped 1% tatto below the neckline is still held in esteem by the outlaws, even after one of their own has converted.

Herbie Shreve, a former One Percenter whose bike now heralds, ‘Holy Roller’ is president of a Christian group called Christian Motorcyclists Association. They have a membership of 60,000 who now preach the Gospel to bikers. They hold a rally at Lincoln Christian College in Lincoln, IL. The association, based in Hatfield, AR, was begun by Shreve’s dad, a Southern Baptist minister and now has some 500 chapters US and 15 overseas. The group gives a million dollars to motorcycle-riding missionaries and has produced a video, ‘Thundering Hope’.

The outlaw biker is most vulnerable to a Christian witness when he is removed from his culture by being locked up in prison or in a drug rehab program. The abuser of drugs is often afraid of the demonic world.

Another opportunity for witness is afforded at the Bike Week held in Daytona Beach, FL, and Sturgess, SD. Nearly 400,000 bikers gather for these events. It is estimated that one third may be outlaws. Richard Anderson’s research into the biker’s world, ‘Mission to Outlaw Bikers: Developing a Power Encounter Approach’, is published in Urban Mission, June 97, pp 7-16.

4.        PROSTITUTES

Exodus Cry, 2008, headquartered in Grandview, MO., reports there are 4.5 million enslaved in sexual exploitation, 98% women.  Prevention is the best form of rescue. If we can prevent any person from being taken captive, we can prevent the trauma before it begins. EC seeks to reveal that America has a 'pornificated culture', a hypertesexualized culture. a 'hookup culture' in what  is called the 'Sexual Revolution'. Their mission is to seek to "change laws, transform culture and to intervene" in the lives of those being exploited. CNN reported 11, 2016,  that Houston, TX, has 1,000 prostitution continas, being close to the border.

 F.                 MISSION BOARDS SERVING MOBILE AMERICANS

1.                  SEAMEN

Seamen's International Christian Association (a list of records, tapes, cassettes, video cassettes, radio programs are available in English and other languages from J.E.F. Dresselhuis, Harbor Chaplain, 7449 Kerr Street, Vancouver, B.C. V5S 3E3)

2.                  TRUCKERS

1. MMAP (Mobile Missionary Assistants Program) in the Western United States

2. Over the Road Evangelism

3. SOWERS (Servants on Wheels Ever Ready)

4. Transport for Christ

5. Truckin' for Jesus

6. Highway Melodies

7. I-20 for Jesus Interstate Missionaries

8. On the Road Ministries

9. Truckstop Ministries, Inc.

3.                  TRAVELERS

1. Bible Taxi Ministry

2. Fellowship of Christian Airline Personnel

3. Railroad Evangelistic Association

4. Sea-Tac Ministries,  Airport Chaplains is a division of Sea-Tac.

5. Volunteer Chaplains in Motels and Hotels

4.                  VACATIONERS

1. A Christian Ministry in the National Parks

2. Campsite Evangelism

3. Drive-In Ministries

5.                  PORTS/MARINAS

1. Foreign Ship Ministry, Tampa harbor, Jack Woehr, Dir., P. O. Box 5224, Hudson, FL 3467t4

2. Outpost Mission, Marinas south Florida, Don and Faye Clarke, Dir, 311 Ellington St., Port

    Charlotte, FL, 34284

6.                  BIKERS

1. Hardcore International Ministries, PO Box 261, St. James, MO 65559,  PH 314.265.5951

7.                  OTHERS

1. Gypsies: Assembles of God Department of Home Missions

2. Race Track Chaplaincy of America [Race Track Chaplaincy of TX is a division]

 A CHRISTIAN MINISTRY IN THE NATIONAL PARKS

ASSOCIATION OF CHRISTIAN TRUCKERS

CAMPSITE EVANGELISM

CHRIST FOR THE LUMBERJACKS

CSSM MOBILE MINISTRY

DRIVE-IN MINISTRIES

FELLOWSHIP OF CHRISTIAN AIRLINE PER

Fellowship of Christian Cowboys

HIGHWAY MELODIES

HOPE MIGRANT MISSIONS CENTER

MESSENGERS ON THE RUN

MISSIONARY GOSPEL FELLOWSHIP

MISSIONARY ON THE RUN FOR CHRIST OUTREACH

NORTH AMERICAN MARITIME MINISTRY ASSOCIATION

OPERATION CONCERN

OVER THE ROAD EVANGELISM  INC

SCRIPTURAL EVANGELISTIC MISSION

SHANTYMEN INTERNATIONAL

SOWERS-SERVANTS ON WHEELS EVER READY

TRANSPORT FOR CHRIST INC