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It Takes a Community to Make Tractor Dave Go


It was not part of the original plan for “Tractor Dave” Wolfsen to be accompanied during his trek throughout the United States, but it has proven beneficial. He may be covering less ground as part of his territory-reduced tour, but the impact in each area is greater.

“With there being more of us,” Wolfsen said, “we can talk with two or three people at once, and when we’re done we all set-up together. It lightens the load in terms of the physical work, but it also lightens the load of the contacts that are being made, and after all, that’s what we really wanted to do. It really has added a person or two more to the roster of bringing the message.”

Tractor Dave (l) with Phyllis and Harry Kuipers from Grand Rapids, Mich.

Traveling in his 1937 Co-op tractor, Wolfsen continues to raise awareness and funds for the Foods Resource Bank (FRB) and the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee’s Disaster Response Services (DRS); he currently stands at more than $30,000 toward his $200,000 goal. When The Banner caught up with him on Tuesday, he was in Spicer, Minn.

Wolfsen is now accompanied by one or two people that drive a truck ahead of him, pulling the trailer in which they camp overnight. Among the recent drivers were Harry and Phyllis Kuipers, DRS volunteers out of Grand Rapids, Mich., and this past week, Lee Mys and Dave Rottier, friends from Wolfsen’s home church, First Christian Reformed Church in Fremont, Mich. The next driver switch will see Rev. Phillip Frens behind the wheel.

“He and I were classmates in grade school,” Wolfsen said. “He became a pastor in the Reformed church and is now retired. He is one of the people who helped formulate this revised route. He will be with me in the state of Iowa because that’s where he had a couple of churches, so he’s very familiar with the area and churches and contacts.”

In addition to the support from those closest to him, Wolfsen is receiving support from several denominations, in part because the FRB is comprised of about 15 different denominations. His stops have included Lutheran, United Methodist, Church of the Brethren, and Roman Catholic churches.

“I think what we’re seeing today is a more cooperative effort between denominations on some common causes,” Wolfsen said. “In conversations with people you inevitably discuss what is happening in your church. Some of the trials and tribulations and joys and sorrows are very similar. Those don’t have denominational boundaries.”

It has taken a team both near and far to pull off this tour, from the drivers to the FRB and DRS volunteers. The support is equally widespread. One church member called to check in on Wolfsen just moments before his conversation with The Banner. Wolfsen also has more than 1,000 supporters on Facebook, which has become invaluable for quick and timely communication.  

“The community is definitely involved, there is no question about that,” he said.

Wolfsen will make several more stops in Minnesota before heading back to Iowa, where he will pick up the schedule initially established. Follow Wolfsen via his Facebook page as well as his website, Tractor Ride Across the U.S.

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