Immanuel’s mission is to “Equip Saints to Make Disciples.” In this portion of our Messenger, we highlight two of our “saints,” Ricky and Gerri Bernard, who are living out their Christian calling, successfully integrating their faith into their everyday lives.

Ricky Bernard has been a truck driver for the past 15 years. He currently drives a semi-truck for Con-way Freight.

Ricky has demonstrated his driving expertise since 2001 at the Wisconsin State Truck Driving Competition, sponsored by the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association. A far cry from a monster-truck rally, the event features a written exam, a driving competition in which drivers have to figure out their vehicle’s defects as fast as possible, and a six-part road course. Ricky has won the state competition four times and has gone on to compete nationally in the America’s Trucking Association National Truck Drivers Competition. He placed 9th nationally this past August.

Ricky’s profession has recently lent itself to community service. Once a year in January, the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association holds interviews with truck drivers interested in becoming part of the Wisconsin Road Team for a one-year term. The Road Team members visit driver’s education classes and inform kids about how to drive safely around larger vehicles. They also represent the trucking industry at various conferences, seminars, youth events, and career day events throughout the year.

Ricky was selected to be on the Wisconsin Road Team in February 2009 and he recently re-interviewed to be on it again this year. Ricky says that although speaking to driver’s ed. students meant becoming more comfortable with public speaking, the experience has stirred his passion for teaching personal safety values to others.

“The most rewarding part has been seeing the light bulb go on in kids’ faces when I tell them how to drive safely,” Ricky says of raising students’ awareness.

Ricky’s Top Three Driving Tips:

  1. Directionals are for what you intend to do, not what you have done.
  2. Take time to look (cover your blind spots).
  3. Seat belts save lives.

If you’d be interested in having a Wisconsin Road Team member come to your school or event to give a free safety presentation or career information, contact Sue Webb, Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association Secretary, at (608) 833-8200 ext. 12.

Even on the road, Ricky makes strengthening his faith a daily exercise. He says he opens his Bible once a day – he enjoys The One-Minute Bible, which has a two-page reading of Scripture and commentary as the format for each day’s spiritual lesson. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” is his all-time favorite verse. Ricky prays for safety while driving each day, and keeps company with K-Love – 105.3 FM (our local Christian radio station). One of his favorite songs is “Imagine” by MercyMe.

While Gerri travels with Ricky for his truck-driving competitions, her ministry is closer to home. Gerri is a trained Stephen Minister who has been involved with the program since it began at Immanuel roughly three years ago.

Gerri says she received a letter of invitation from Pastor Kelm. Then it took about six months for her to complete the 50-hour training program. She says her past work at a mental health facility also prepared her for a role in this ministry.

“[The initial] training was spectacular,” Gerri says.

She says she learned a lot in the Stephen Ministry training program about how being compassionate and willing to listen are central to Christian caring.

Since completing her training, Gerri has met with two different care-receivers (people in need of care), one for a short time, and the other for the past year-and-a-half. The care she gives them is free and confidential.

“Stephen Ministry is a great program,” Gerri says. “The privacy factor is very nice for people.”

To be a Stephen Minister, it is important to have compassion for other people and their situations, Gerri adds.

“It can be very trying at times because of the situations people are in, but you also realize that person is there just as much for you, and that’s how it’s really designed to be, to go both ways,” she says.

In addition to meeting with care-receivers, Gerri meets with her fellow care-givers on 2nd and 4th Thursdays from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

“Our group is wonderful,” Gerri says. “Helping people through a crisis is something we’re all passionate about and want to work towards.”

Gerri is also interested in caring for people using her expertise as a Reiki practitioner. According to Gerri, Reiki is “a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that promotes healing.”

“It’s a great way to connect with God and get you to relax and it makes it easier to meditate,” Gerri says.

Reiki is commonly used in spas and clinics in other parts of the country, such as Arizona, Gerri says, but it’s a relatively new practice in the Mid-West.

Gerri finds care and comfort daily in The One-Minute Bible. She cherishes the words of Acts 4:30, “Stretch out your hands to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

Ricky and Gerri live in Menomonee Falls with their ten-pound black cat, Buddy. Say hello to our Saints in Service at the 10:45 service time!