Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Approaching Ten Years

Time goes by so quickly! This September 2011 will mark the 10 year anniversary of being at the helm as captain of the Oskaloosa bus route for Marion Avenue Baptist Church.

It's still a crazy notion to me ... taking a bus to pick up people just for church ... that's not too crazy, but a church that is over an hour away? Do the math and you'll find that the Osky bus(es) travels, on one Sunday alone, close to 260 miles. The Osky bus travels three counties and picks up riders in nine towns! Yet, I find in the Bible how God uses things that we think are foolish and absurd and out of the ordinary and uses it for His honor and glory.

In these ten years, I've experienced many ups and downs, heartaches and joys, darkness and victory. It's been a rollercoaster ride at times. I've grieved as a few of my bus riders have passed away. I've celebrated with bus riders who grew up on the bus and who now have families of their own. I've tried to comfort ones who have tasted the bitter cup of sin. I've rejoiced with ones who have sought to walk with God. I've seen second generation bus riders come on my bus.

No telling how many riders have stepped onto the Oskaloosa bus route in these ten years. There is not a week that goes by, as I am out visiting, that a face from the past doesn't cross my mind. I think of that person and how they are a part of my life.

Recently, I went through my file cabinet of "bus stuff" that I have accumulated over the years. In the cabinet, I found something that I will always cherish and be of great value to me. I found my original list of bus prospects handed down to me by Dan McCoy, the previous bus captain. My mind flashed back to those days. The list consists of two small notebook pages attached to a map of Oskaloosa that Dan got at the local Wigg's store. I remember the day Marchel and I visited with Dan and Kim McCoy. Dan scratched out all the bus stops in ink on that green Osky map. It coordinated with the names on the notebook pages.

I remember we rode in his conversion van as he explained to me the layout of the city of Oskaloosa, the main streets through town and about the bus riders. I had no idea where I was as he took us from here to there. I had never been in Oskaloosa but on just a few occasions I could probably count on one hand. We would get to a place where a bus rider lived and I would take note of Dan as he talked with his riders. I could see compassion and love in his voice as he talked with them. In his meek-spirited manner, he graciously encouraged them to come to ride the bus to church. Everyone loved Brother Dan and I could easily see why. In the years he was the bus captain he built a good foundation.

I had no idea on how to be a bus captain. I was really in the dark. All I knew was that it was about people and bringing them to hear the gospel and sharing the gospel along the way - and you do it every week. Singing songs is a plus and a game or two is key to a good ride. I witnessed the "Sleeping Game" the first week that Dan was with us showing us the ropes. We've used the "Sleeping Game" many times since then.

The original bus riders are scattered about now. Some still live in Osky and on occasion, still take a ride on the bus to church. They all have good memories of the bus route and church. These will always hold a special place in my heart. They helped to "break me in" on the bus route.

Before I go on with my thoughts, I want to establish this matter right here ... I am not giving myself or my wife glory for any results of any kind that the Oskaloosa bus route has produced. God gets the glory for lives touched, changed, attendance and everything else. I am man, helpless and unworthy in everything I do. I accept no honor or "pat on the back" from anyone, friend or family, for anything good they think I have done. I am just a vessel that is empty for God to use. With that said ...
Looking back now, I realize how serious this matter is: had Marchel and I not taken over the bus route ten years ago, would anyone have taken it? Would it have just discontinued never to be started up again? The children, teenagers and adults that accepted Christ as Saviour through this ministry ... would they still be condemned and in their sin with no hope of heaven? That thought to me is the greatest motivator for me to stay in the race. I shudder and am brought to a stark reality as I think of how serious a matter it is to be a bus captain.