Wyatt Timmins shares his faith in words and music

Wyatt Timmins’ father was very mechanical and tried to instill those qualities in his son. But, at age 8, Wyatt knew his destiny was elsewhere.

After realizing his son was not likely to make a living by pulling transmissions and fixing things, his dad recognized Wyatt had an aptitude for music.

“I am an okay singer, but really like to write and tell stories with words and song,” Wyatt explained. “I love to tell stories that grab people and take them to another place.”

Music has been his vocation as long as he can remember. He also tried sales and general labor jobs to make money, especially when raising his children. But, Wyatt’s heart was always in music.

“One day, after the kids left home, I had a bright idea to drive a big truck. So, I jumped into a tractor trailer and pursued that for 15 years while I continued to serve as a pastor,” he explained.

That experience opened the door to a way Wyatt could serve truckers.

Wyatt’s winding route to the pulpit

“I wound up going through Teen Challenge, which is a Christian rehabilitation program. It was there I was infused with God’s word,” said Wyatt. “I heard God’s call and decided to take Bible schooling and move into ministry.

During his teens, Wyatt started drifting in life because he had no real mentors. After his father died, Wyatt got pulled back to Pennsylvania from the West coast and felt lost inside.

“That was a process in itself. I served as a children’s pastor, youth pastor, worship leader, assistant pastor and finally, worked as a pastor for a house church we started ourselves,” he explained.

“We started a few house churches over a seven-year period. But, I finally settled in and took charge by pastoring in one location,” he added. “I haven’t always been a pastor, but I felt the call to serve God at an early age.”

Wyatt has one daughter of his own and three step-children, all of whom are grown up today with families of their own. In fact, he has 11 grandchildren. One of his step-children is a pastor as well.

“We are strategically positioned in a way we’re not close enough that our children can just drop off the grandkids whenever they want to, but we can easily drive to see them frequently,” said Wyatt.

He currently lives in Sullivan County, Pa., where there is one traffic light in the entire county.

“If someone comes up our driveway, they are either lost or they love us,” he explained.

A longing in his spirit

When Wyatt turned 50, he planned to continue serving in pastoral ministry. But, he had a deep yearning to return to music as a way where he could combine singing with being a pastor.

“It just didn’t seem like those doors were opening for me,” he explained. “I did a lot of what’s called ‘pulpit supply,’ where I would serve as a fill-in pastor for other churches.

“There were many different denominations in my area, so I would get called to preside over services on Sunday morning,” he added. “I got to serve a lot of congregations from different denominational settings.”

That experience took him back to his early Christian roots where Wyatt served on the Teen Challenge choir singing in a variety of churches while trying to build awareness of and support for the program.

“When I turned 50, something inside me was longing to get back to those roots again,” he explained. “When we got to the empty nest stage, there seemed to be a flow of resources which enabled us to do some things we hadn’t been able to do for a long time.”

One of those things involved building a recording studio in his home. Wyatt bought a green screen as well as some audio production equipment to start creating content on Facebook.

Creating CDs for truckers

Wyatt was an early adapter to technology, especially podcasting. He also had technology that would enable him to produce and duplicate compact discs. He deployed that technology to create CDs specifically for truck drivers.

“We put our CDs in truckstops across the country,” he explained. “In fact, other truckers would take stacks of our CDs along their normal routes and drop them off at truckstop ministries across the country.”

Although Wyatt felt a call early in his life to be a preacher and teacher, he admits to being disappointed God did not open a door for him to have a church of his own. However, he did open doors for Wyatt to serve some of the loneliest Christians in America – truck drivers.

“A few years after I started with Highways and Byways, I had drivers calling me day and night to ask for prayer or just to talk to someone for counsel,” he explained. “These guys were far away from home as long as six weeks at a time. They often didn’t have a home church, nor were they connected to a ministry where they could get the support they needed.

“By God’s grace, we were able to get inside truck drivers’ cabs by using our CDs to deliver music and Bible messages,” said Wyatt. “We were on the front end of that market. I don’t think anyone was copying me at the time, but we quickly saw a whole lot of other ministers starting to create their own CDs for truck drivers.

“We started doing it years earlier when people were listening to cassette tapes,” he explained. “When CDs were introduced, it didn’t concern me. I was delighted to help several people get started in recording and editing their own CDs.

“The more of us who were out there producing this type of content meant there was more opportunity to minister to drivers who are in their trucks for 12 hours a day,” said Wyatt. “This was long before satellite radio was able to deliver programming wherever the truck driver was located.

“At that time, all truckers had was AM radio, and they’d get tired of having to switch stations to get better signals. So, the drivers were willing to listen to anything verbal, and our cassette tapes and CDs were very popular.”

Highways and Byways audio magazine

Wyatt was instrumental in developing an outreach ministry called Highways and Byways of Sullivan County, Pa. Today, he said there are a “gazillion” groups and organizations using the highways and byways name.

“It started as an outreach to truck drivers, but later served anyone who traveled frequently and liked to listen to audio recordings when driving,” said Wyatt. “I’m hoping God allows this whole Revival of the Heart Tour to continue to grow. It is gaining traction and grabbing momentum around the world. It emanates out of the House of Prayer Ministries, which we support in places like South Africa and Kenya.”

Wyatt described his production as an “audio magazine” due to the variety of content contained in each cassette or CD.

“Paper magazines have a variety of content in them, and we did the same with audio files,” he explained. “We promoted music produced by up-and-coming Christian artists who really didn’t have a following yet.

“They were glad to get the exposure, so they would send me their CDs in hopes we would promote their music and boost their popularity,” he added. 

“But, we also had a Q&A time where we fielded questions from truck drivers about the Bible or other spiritual issues,” said Wyatt. “I would do an end-time update that connected scripture to real events happening around the world. I always tried to keep it real without getting into sensationalism.

“We tried to create a variety show so that if a driver didn’t like one thing, he could hit a button and advance to the next track to find something else,” he said.

Responding to a dwindling audience

Wyatt found targeting truck drivers was a real blessing for him as well as his ministry. But, it posed some challenges, too, because not everyone shared his faith and desire to spread the Gospel.

“Long before the CDs were being phased out by emerging technology, truckstop owners were shutting us down because they didn’t want religious content in their buildings,” he explained.

“A few truckstops would allow chaplains to minister by setting up a table for them in the driver’s lounge where they could pass out CDs, tapes or some literature,” Wyatt explained. “But, other truckstops started limiting access or restricting chaplains to locations that had mobile chapels set up in trailers. Nowadays, it is really difficult for ministers to get inside truckstops.”

Satellite radio also played a role in decreasing demand by giving truckers around-the-clock access to commercial-free content.

“There is enough stuff floating around out there on apps like Pandora and Spotify so that drivers don’t often listen to CDs anymore,” he explained.

“The challenge is bigger than ever because we don’t have a physical CD to give to truckers. Many cabs don’t even have physical CD players in them anymore,” he added. “Some trucks have USB ports that will allow drivers to plug in a thumb drive, but those are not very cost-effective for a ministry.”

For example, at one point, Wyatt was able to buy a stack of 100 700-megabyte blank recordable CDs for less than $25. However, a package of 100 one-gigabyte flash drives sells for nearly $200.

“You also can’t put too many words on a thumb drive to identify what it contains,” he said. “So, we started printing business cards with QR codes on them. That way drivers could scan the image with their phone, and link directly to our podcasts so they could listen to them for free.”

A hunger for faith-based content

Many truck drivers have a deep hunger for faith-based content, whether they are men or women, said Wyatt. In fact, there are a number of women heading up powerful ministries exclusively targeting truckers.

“There is a real hunger for those who seek the face of God,” said Wyatt. “When drivers come into truckstops which have a ministry available to them, they are often at a place in life where they are desperate to fill that spiritual hole.

“They may be going through a crisis in their life or running from something,” he added. “Truckstop ministers can sit there all day and never talk to anyone. But, when they are needed, they can have a profound impact.

“It’s often a labor of love. Frankly, local churches should be supporting truck stop ministries, with prayer, resources and financially so the ministers can be there when they are needed the most,” he explained.

The Jesus Revolution changed his life

Wyatt came to faith in the 1970s while he was in California. In fact, he was baptized by Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel ministry at Pirate’s Cove Beach in Corona Del Mar. The location was recently highlighted in the movie “Jesus Revolution.”

The film is a story about how a hippie named Lonnie Frisbee met Chuck and launched a movement that brought hundreds of thousands of younger people to faith in an era marked by rampant drug use and promiscuity. The movement also sparked megapastor Greg Laurie’s Harvest Christian Fellowship.

“I can’t even describe the sensations that were going through me when I saw that movie,” said Wyatt. “Yes, I was one of those long-haired leaping gnomes they called ‘Jesus freaks.’ I was very young, but my life played out similarly to what was portrayed in the movie.”

Not much has changed since those days, he explained, likening the spiritual mood of the country to the book of Ecclesiastes, which proclaims there is nothing new under the sun.

“There is a lot of pushback by established churches and more conservative denominations,” Wyatt explained. “They don’t like the new music that is floating around, and I’m not too crazy about some of it myself. However, none of us are really worshipping the way King David did.

“I’m all for the young people who are gathering into these congregations and churches,” he added. “You can complain about emotionalism all you want. But there are a number of people who do not understand that the Holy Spirit of the living God will find us anywhere, in any state.

“God will minister to us through anybody,” said Wyatt. “If God can use a hippie like Lonnie Frisbee to reach thousands of people for his kingdom, God can use anybody on the planet.”

Berean Bible Institute

Wyatt was about 10 years old when he developed an interest in music, much to his father’s chagrin. But, when dad finally realized his son was destined to play music, he supported Wyatt’s dream.

“My father gave me a humongous RCA reel-to-reel tape player, which I used to record my music,” he explained. “That was back in the day of old-time radio and black-and-white television. Color TVs were selling for $1,000, and a car cost $3,000.

“I fell in love with audio. I learned to use a microphone to record onto that reel-to-real player in order to create my own playlists. I imagined myself as a disc jockey creating my own radio shows.

“When you are interested enough in something, you will self-teach yourself to learn the technology,” he added. “Over the years, I taught myself to produce my own audio and video recordings, and to edit them to sound better.”

The only formal training Wyatt had was at Berean Bible Institute, where he learned sound doctrine.

“When I came out of that, I jumped right into ministry, and it wasn’t long before I was working as a children’s pastor,” he explained. “I always had a mentor who was coming along side me and teaching me how to be a minister. That seemed to come about naturally rather than through formal seminary training and getting a doctorate of divinity.”

Wyatt’s roots are in the Assemblies of God denomination, and the Berean Bible Institute is affiliated with that group.

“When I was participating in Teen Challenge, we had Bible school three hours a day, five days a week. We also attended 13 chapel sessions every week,” said Wyatt. “You either fell in love with Jesus or you didn’t want to hear any more about him once you completed the program.”

Today, in addition to Bible training, students take classes about counseling and trauma ministry, too.

A few years after completing the institute training, Wyatt was ordained by a non-denominational ministry in Colbert, Ga., called Living Word International. He believes it is far more important for ministers to have real life experience than it is to have a formal degree in order to be effective.

That’s a good thing for people over 50 who still seek opportunities to serve as chaplains despite not having formal theology degrees.

Wyatt books his own schedule to fill in as a preacher. Others may hire a booking agent, who take part of the fee as commission. However, Wyatt doesn’t seek a lot of money for the services he provides.

“I like to collect a love offering, which is often enough to cover my travel expenses and give me a place to lay my head for the night,” he explained. “At this point in my life, I’m not about making a lot of money. It’s more about getting back to my spiritual roots.”

Starting over could make it worse

If given an opportunity to go back in time to start over, Wyatt said there likely isn’t anything he’d change.

“If I was able to go back and do something over again, I might make it worse than I did,” he explained. “If I didn’t get it right the first time, and you gave me a second chance, I might screw it up even worse.

“So I have no real regrets,” he added. “There are some things I wish I would have been able to do sooner. But I am happy where I am in life.

“Most of us have hopes, dreams, desires and a passion within us, and it’s usually a journey to get there,” said Wyatt. “We just need to trust that God has a plan and his timing is perfect.”

Wyatt is at a stage in his life where he loves what he does, even if it means he’s not getting paid for it. Wyatt found a venue that seems ideally suited to what he wants to do in ministry.

“Nursing homes are a great venue for people who can strum a guitar, play a little piano or even do the karaoke thing,” he explained. “It’s an opportunity to serve the Lord with the gifts and talents he has given you. Sometimes the homes pay us, but for me it doesn’t matter.

“People can volunteer to go into a nursing home to lead a Sunday morning service,” he added. “If you like to sing, people in nursing homes often like to sing, too. Every song does not have to be a hymn.

“You can bring people together and love them wherever they’re at,” said Wyatt. “I have no problem singing hymns, but sometimes people in nursing homes like to sing old songs, which bring back memories for them.”

He said it is vitally important that people over 50 put their natural skills and learned talents to work serving others.

“Let’s say you were a secretary all your life, and now you are retired. You are still a skilled administrator, and there are many opportunities for you to serve in that capacity,” said Wyatt. “Your administrative skills are still a gift from God. There are places which are dying for someone to donate their time to help straighten things out.”

In addition to nursing homes, Wyatt said jails and prisons are also looking for people to provide ministry services.

“A few years ago, I partnered with a man who led a Bible course at a prison in Pennsylvania. He asked me to join him one Christmas Eve,” said Wyatt. “I played some Jesus songs I wrote, and he delivered a message. People were just bawling and some came forward to give their hearts to Jesus.

“It was a much stronger response than I ever got by performing at a coffeehouse,” he added. “There is likely a Prison Fellowship ministry in any big city in America. If you have a heart for prison ministry, they will help get you trained.”

For more information

People can connect with Wyatt and either listen to his music or order CDs by visiting www.wyatttimmins.com. He can be reached for any reason by email at highwaymag101@gmail.com.

His podcast and archived messages can be found at highwaymag101.podbean.com.