Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Church Bus

It was almost time. My sisters and I waited with great anticipation as we peered out the front window of our house. We had just finished our breakfast and we were waiting for the Church bus to come. Suddenly we could hear the faint sound of music off in the distance. It kind of reminded me of the distant sound we would hear when the ice cream truck was in the neighborhood. Even though that truck was on the next street over we knew it was coming our way. So it was with the Church Bus. You see the church bus that came to our Trailer Park to pick us up and take us to Church played songs through a loud speaker mounted to the top of the Bus. This Bus was an old school bus that had been painted White and had the Church name on the side of it. It simply read "Brethren Church of Mulvane Kansas." As the Bus got closer, my sisters and I would run out of the house saying our goodbyes to Mom and Dad. The sound of music filled the air. Great old songs like, "Yes, Jesus Loves Me," or "He's got the whole world in His hands," would be playing as we climbed on board the old bus.

The Pastor was the driver of the bus and he always seemed so happy to see us. I never saw that man without a happy smile on his face. He called to us by name and welcomed us aboard as the old bus went on down the road to pick up more of the kids that lived in the Mobile Home Park. Munhollands Mobile Home Park was located a couple of miles outside of Mulvane in the country and even though it wasn't a long ways from town, it was too far to walk. We rode the school bus to school throughout the week and we rode the Church bus on Sundays to Church. Yes we rode the bus often, but on Sundays it was different. Everyone was happy, everyone was excited to be going to church, and the music just added to the fun festive atmosphere that we were experiencing. It was like saying... "Come on everybody, let's go worship the Lord."

I have very fond memories of that church bus and the rides to and from Church. I attended the small little Brethren Church for almost two years and the entire time I went to church, I went by riding the church bus. I was about 10 or 11 years old when I started going to church. My folks didn't go to church, but they always encouraged my sisters and I to go as often as we wanted to. I made many friends while at church and I learned a lot about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I learned about many of the great bible stories like Daniel and the Lions Den, Moses and the Ten Commandments, and one of my favorite stories was about Shadrach Meshach and Abednego. Now that's a cool story. But I suppose the story that touched my heart the most was the one where I realized that Jesus died for me. To think he was crucified for me, to save me from a place called Hell. He loved me that much. Now that's amazing.

I remember the night I gave my life to Christ. I believe I was 12 years old, maybe 13 I'm not sure. I was reading my bible by flashlight under my covers while in bed. I was supposed to be asleep, but I just could not quit reading. I was reading a "Good News" bible that my Sunday School teacher had given me. Until he gave me that Bible, the only bible I had was the little "new testament" bible that we got one day in school. To me, reading that King James New testament bible was like reading Greek or something. It made little sense to me and I just couldn't seem to follow it or understand it. Many of the words I'd never seen before or knew what they meant. It was very confusing and I lost interest very quickly. But this "Good News" bible made sense to me. I could read it forever! I hated to put it down it was so good. This bible helped me to understand what Jesus did for me as a sinner. I suddenly became convicted of my sin, I knew that I was lost and when I died I would go to Hell because I hadn't given my life to Jesus yet. I feared going to sleep because I knew that if I died I would go to hell. The thought of this scared me. I wasn't sure what to do, but I knew enough to know that I needed to pray to Jesus and ask Him to save me. And that's what I did. I got out of bed and I knelt down beside my bed and I folded my hands together and bowed and prayed like I never have before. I confessed that I was a sinner and I pleaded with God to save me from Hell. I told Jesus that I believed he died for my sins and that he rose from the dead and that he now lives. I confessed that I do believe this and that I wanted the eternal life that Jesus promised. Please save me Jesus, please!

I cried and was overwhelmed with joy and happiness. I was freed from all fear of death. Hell no longer was something for me to fear. Eternal life with Christ Jesus in Heaven was mine. There were many tears of joy and happiness that night alone in my bedroom. From that day on I was never afraid to go to sleep again. If death came in the night while I slept, I knew where I would go. There's nothing like the comfort of Salvation... nothing like it.

There's much more to this story and the steps that I took, some good and many bad, in my life as a Christian from that day forward. But the main reason for this story is to share the impact that that old church bus had on my life.

You see... I was one of those kids that you see in church today. You know the one's. The one's that ride the bus and come to church without any supervision. Their parents are not there and someone else in the church always has to keep us quiet or make us sit with them because we just haven't learned to listen or be still like we should in church. We're the ones that get up and walk to the restroom in the middle of the service or we like to sit in the back with our friends and draw or giggle or talk when the preacher is preaching. We're the one's that you wish would just stay home because we act like we'd rather be some place else anyway. We're just so disruptive sometimes and it seems that were learning nothing. But what you must understand is this... "The word of God permeates the soul and convicts the heart through the work of the Holy Spirit." When it's time (God's time) everything that those kids heard and learned will come to mind and the weight of it will overwhelm them to the point they know they need a Savior or die lost and condemned to spend life after death in a place called hell. If you didn't plant those seeds by allowing those kids to come hear the Gospel and learn by watching other Christians live their faith, well they wouldn't stand a chance would they? You see... rarely will you get to see the fruits of your labor with the Church Bus kids because when we get in high school, get our first car, get our first girlfriend, or hang out with buddies that don't go to church (Keep in mind most of our parents don't go to church either and that's confusing enough for us) most likely as in my case and many others, we quit coming. We fall away from the church and we live like we know we shouldn't. But what you need to know is this... the Holy Spirit will convict us every time we sin and the longer we live this way the more miserable we become. The best thing you can do for us is... help us, teach us, mentor us, show us, pray for us, tolerate us, and love us as God loves us. Give us the bibles we need and don't have. Share what scripture means when it doesn't make any sense to us. One day, maybe one day, we'll be your Sunday School Teacher, we'll be the Church Bus Driver or Bus captain, we'll be the worship leader or maybe even the Preacher! Only God knows what awaits us and what he has planned for us. All I know is this... If I wasn't able to come to church by bus when I was a kid living in that old trailer park outside Mulvane Kansas, I might still be lost! Thank God for that Bus! Thank God for that Church and those wonderful people that taught me and reached out to me. Those folks have no idea of the impact they made on me and that was 35 years ago. Wouldn't it be tragic if today they didn't have a church bus ministry there anymore and the reason why was because they just didn't feel they were effective in their ministry. They never saw the fruit of their labor so they gave it up. Maybe all they saw was the hassle, maybe all they experienced were the headaches and the costs. But what they don't know is that this kid, yes this one, has been saved and will be spending the rest of his life in eternity with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and it was through their ministry that this came to pass.

Thank you Jesus!


1 comment:

VoiceInTheWilderness said...

Can't wait to hear it in person. Good things happened last week. I'll share them with you next week.