“I was a die-hard driver.”

When Dan Harms bought a new Peterbilt, he enjoyed driving more than ever. Yet less than four years later, he parked his rig and began a new journey.

There were painful detours. At one point in his career, Dan quit driving because he realized, "My kids don't know me any more." He credits his wife Helen with doing a great job at home.

But then his daughter Kristal, a student at Nipawin Bible College, was killed while touring with a musical team.

Dan and his son Karsten were in Vancouver, running together, when Helen called. Reality did not begin to sink in until they talked with the RCMP at a Chilliwack truck stop. A chaplain from Transport for Christ (TFC) prayed with them, offering comfort. Only later did they learn TFC had organized a nightlong prayer vigil.

Some time off from work helped in the grieving process and Dan often stopped at TFC chapels for encouragement along the way. He told his story to hundreds at a TFC fund-raising banquet, giving supporters a trucker's view of the ministry.

About six years later, the Harms felt that they were beginning to heal. Their faith was tested again. Their son Dwain, a young pastor, was diagnosed with cancer and died just a few weeks later.

Dan bottled up his grief and went out on the road.

"Trucking promotes running away," Harms says. "If you have problems you can get in your truck and leave."

Dan was unable to focus. He lost his trucking business. Eventually he worked as a company driver again, waiting until he could buy his own truck.

"God restored our marriage, Helen was doing well; life was pretty good. I enjoyed my work. Then TFC's Canadian director, Dennis Finnamore called. Again." He'd begun urging Dan to becoming a chaplain several years earlier.

Dan wanted to argue, but "God was in my truck; His presence was so real. He told me, 'This time, say yes.'"

While Dan walked around the truck doing pre-trip checks, he wondered, "How is this going to work? We'll have to move, sell my truck."

But he relented. "By the time I left the parking lot, my passion for trucking was gone."

House sold, Dan and Helen bought a trailer to attend candidate training. "Take two very independent, very capable people and put them together in one little trailer; you realize God does have a sense of humour."

Helen interjects, "And we had better, too!"

Dan concludes, "It was intense boot camp, but we made it. We love each other very much."

He cares about truckers and confesses, "I still like trucks; I follow a good-looking truck when I see one."

Helen chuckles, "Now he gets to wander around the trucks at the truck stop everyday."

"I've always had a passion to share my faith. I feel every person is called to be a witness at work. That was good enough for me. God said, 'No, I've got a different job for you.'" With Helen's enthusiastic support, Dan began chaplaincy with Transport for Christ at Calgary's chapel.

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About the author

ChristianWeek Columnist

Pat Gerbrandt is a Manitoba writer who delights to learn how God is working in and through His children, and enjoys sharing these accounts. Do you know a senior with an amazing story? Let us know! E-mail krempel@christianweek.org or call 1-800-263-6695.