Duffy, an ordained minister who is originally from Ontario, Canada, relocated to Williston and uses his van to bring free sandwiches, coffee and spiritual guidance to people in need.”I drive around town and when I see people who aren’t established yet, I stop and encourage them,” said Duffy, who calls his effort Just in Him Ministries.Duffy, 61, who most recently served a church in South Dakota, told The Forum (http://bit.ly/16ue7iZ ) that someone he knows invited him to Williston to help people moving to the oil patch community in search of work.Duffy drives his van in the early mornings and again in the evenings to areas around town where he knows newcomers will be, such as the library, laundries and a workforce staffing center. He hands out business cards with his cellphone number to everyone he meets.
Some rely on the sandwiches while they are getting settled in Williston, occasionally calling Duffy when they are hungry.
Duffy also gives out bottles of water, children’s toys and fleece blankets. He recently began buying men’s socks because he found so many workers who needed socks.
Walter Dawkins, of Nebraska, who has been in North Dakota for seven months, said Duffy gave him a sandwich and some encouragement when Dawkins was still new to Williston and hadn’t found a job.
“I really appreciated it,” said Dawkins, who now works for a grocery store. “He had a friendly word to say.”
Duffy regularly meets with Kevin Meyer, of Vancouver, Wash., who works two jobs seven days a week in Williston.
“He’s a great guy,” Meyer said. “He helped me through a lot.”
But Duffy doesn’t want any of the credit.
“I give all the credit to Jesus for whatever the van accomplishes. It’s not about me,” he said.
Duffy, whose ministry is nondenominational, hands out bracelets with colored beads that represent the word of God and a pamphlet with a Christian message.
“I don’t want to preach at them,” Duffy said. “I want to help them to be better people in society.”
The Harvest Church of Williston donates some of the items Duffy gives out and helps make sandwiches, Duffy said. He also receives other community support.
Duffy, who lives in a camper on a rural Williston farm, said his ministry requires long hours but is rewarding.
“I can do more with this ministry in one month than I can do in ministry in a church in six,” Duffy said.