LeRoy Boender is an ordained minister and pastors Grace Lutheran in Sisseton, South Dakota. But he is also a CDL-holding truck driver trainer. Boender worked as a pastor before he started working for K&J Trucking as a driver a year-and-a-half ago. Boender grew up on a farm driving big machinery, so trucking was a natural transition for him. But it was during his training at K&J that they noticed he was equipped to help other drivers in a unique way.
Officially Boender is known as a trainer at K&J in Sioux Falls, SD, helping new drivers learn the ropes and get comfortable with the procedures of the company. But unofficially, he is a chaplain to the truckers, walking with them through all aspects of their life.
“I’m kind of a stickler for detail,” Boender said, “I enjoy preaching and teaching and that flows over to trucking and making sure things are always squared away.”“My goal is to get to know as many drivers as I can,” he said, “I want them to know that I care about them.”
More Than a Trainer
His eye for detail serves him well in both training and pastoring. “I just sit and listen and let them unpack,” he said. “I let them know they are cared for and loved, and it doesn’t matter who they are or where they are at. A lot of them don’t know much about church, God or Christians.”
Boender knows that driving truck can be a lonely profession and he loves being able to be a friendly, non-judgmental presence. “ A lot of drivers just need someone to listen to them,” Boender said, “I am happy to provide that."
The Story of Don
One of Boender’s favorite examples was Don, another driver at K&J, was quite rough around the edges. “He wasn’t real thrilled that I was a preacher, to be honest," Boender said. "I was lucky to get a grunt out of him. One day I asked him why and he shared his story. I was able to apologize for the way some Christians had treated him over the years. It was a powerful experience.”
But the biggest surprise was when Don asked Boender to pray over him if anything should ever happen to him. "That was when I knew I had an impact," Boender said.
Unfortunately, Don passed away this year. But because of their continued friendship, Boender was able to fulfill that promise and preside over Donnie's funeral.
Even though he has cut back his hours at K&J to pursue a full-time pastorate, Boender still loves to come by and do a training once and awhile. “I try to get to the headquarters once a month if I can so I can meet up with people and check in,” Boender said, “It doesn’t just bless them, it blesses me too.”
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