Each year hundreds of truckers and travelers stop at Beto Junction at the intersection of
I-35 and US-75 highway for food, fuel and a little rest. Llocated near the truckers fuel bay is the Blue Stem Truckers Chapel. Each Sunday there are two services at 8:30 and 10:30a.m. Volunteer chaplains are available to meet and pray with anyone who stops by. The Truckers Ministry was first started in 1999 by Bill Kneisly. When Kneisly retired in 2009, Bruce Johnson became the director of the ministry.
Johnson’s journey began when he was stationed at Governors Island, New York in 1996 where he was scheduled for a transfer later that year. He was willing to go anywhere but Norfolk,Virginia. He tried everything to avoid a transfer to Norfolk but that is exactly where God placed him. After moving to Norfolk, Johnson and his wife Susan began attending Grace Bible Church in nearby Chesapeake, Virginia. During a worship service at that church in 1998, he “saw the need for Christ” in his life. Bruce accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior that day.
In 2006, Johnson, a Topeka native, retired from the U.S. Coast Guard and moved back to Kansas with his wife Susan. In 2007 they began attending Americus Southern Baptist Church (now Countryside Baptist Church). While attending a Blue Stem Associational meeting, he heard Bill Kneisly speak about the ministry for truckers at Beto Junction. Kneisly asked if “anyone was interested in serving the Lord at the Truckers Chapel at Beto”. Johnson knew God was leading him to serve in some capacity and he sensed that the Truckers Chapel was the place.
This ministry has truly impacted Johnsons’ life. “I really enjoy reaching out to folks who visit the truck stop. It was a real blessing when a truck driver accepts Christ as his Lord and Savior right there in the chapel. We don’t limit the ministry to truck drivers only. We also reach out to other visitors as well as the employees of Beto. The ministry includes assisting needy travelers with food, fuel and motel stays. Just recently we had a Christian man from Illinois who was involved in an auto accident. The chapel partnered with Beto Truck Stop and the Wyatt Earp Inn to help the man until he was able to return home. Last fall on a cold day I saw a young couple who were homeless. After talking to them for a while I invited them into the restaurant for a meal. I noticed what looked like a baby bassinette with a blanket over it. The lady said that they would not allow the baby in the restaurant. I assured her they would allow the baby inside. The lady pulled away the blanket to reveal a full grown Pit Bull.” Since Johnson retired from the Coast Guard, he spends his time serving at the Beto Truckers Chapel. He and his wife Susan have been married for 36 years. They have a son, Bruce who lives in Chesapeake, Virginia with his wife.
Current needs of this ministry includes people who would like “to share their faith with the people at the truck stop” and “ prayer for funding to ensure we can continue to meet needs in the future.” They are currently in need of cookies to distribute to the truckers during the Christmas Season. In the past more than 600 plates of cookies have been distributed. If you would like to contribute cookies, notify Bruce Johnson at [email protected] or call at 785-580-6449.