Why I Chose to Raise My Children in the Bus Ministry
Last year, I asked each of our bus captains to bring a brief challenge in our weekly worker’s meeting. One of our long-time captains brought some encouraging and challenging thoughts on “Why I Chose to Raise My Children in the Bus Ministry.” I am sharing and expanding on some of his points given us that Saturday morning.
When my wife and I were first married, our pastor taught, “Good youth groups begin in the nursery.” He was teaching the importance of training our children in the way they should go from a very early age. We wanted to rear tenderhearted, God-honoring, Christian servants in our home, and we thought the bus ministry was a wonderful tool to help us accomplish that goal with our own children. Here are a few of the benefits we have seen in the lives of our own children as they have “grown up on the bus.”
The bus ministry teaches them to put God first.
At times, we have had to reschedule holiday celebrations (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthday parties, etc.). Our children learned that service to God and others comes first on Sundays. Sundays are a day for our family to serve God together. His house and His work come first in our lives.
They learn the Great Comission not by being told to, but by practice.
In the bus ministry, seeking to reach, love, and help people is not a theory that is taught in a classroom. It is a weekly way of life. Our children did not just learn about telling people of Christ. They go out every week and tell people of Christ.
They learn the benefit of God’s plan for marriage.
Our children have seen, firsthand, the effects of divorce, broken homes, and how sinfully selfish decisions made by parents can greatly impact a child. One of the homes on our route has five children from three different fathers who are currently being raised by their grandmother. My children have learned the importance and sanctity of the biblical institution of marriage.
They learn to resist peer pressure—at a young age—under Mom and Dad’s watchful eyes!
Working on a bus route has caused our children to see and hear things they would have never seen or heard in our Christian home. We have been able to use this as an opportunity to teach our children that they should be the ones influencing our bus riders, not the other way around. They have learned to stand for right without being influenced for wrong.
They see the effects of sin.
We tell our children: “Be sure your sin will find you out,” but what does this really mean to a child? We had one young girl on our bus whose drug-addicted mother abandoned the family. For months, all this little girl did was to sit next to my daughter on the bus. After several weeks, my daughter asked me, “Why does she want to be by me all the time?” I explained that what my daughter saw was a manifestation of the pain of abandonment in the girl’s life. I further explained that my daughter had the ability to minister to that little girl in a way that few others ever would be able to…and this is exactly the type of ministry that the Lord Jesus wanted us to give to little children.
They learn to “want” to go church.
Fernie, a 2nd grade handicapped boy once had to be taken home from Sunday school because of continued disobedience. That same Sunday, unbeknownst to us, he snuck out of his house, walked the 1.5 miles back to church, and snuck past our security director, back into class. We didn’t know he made it all of the way back to church until we were doing final count and found one more person than we were supposed to have. I told my children: “I don’t think that any of us (myself included) wanted to go to church today as much as he did.” Our bus riders teach us great lessons about going to church when no one makes them.
The bus ministry teaches them to deal with the disappointments of the ministry.
When you work with people, love people, and serve people, you will be hurt and disappointed at times. These sorrows have allowed us to teach our children valuable lessons about God’s work. At the end of the day, the battle is with the Devil and not people. We have to learn to love people even when we are hurting.
The bus ministry teaches them the abundant life that the Lord Jesus Christ offers—if you stick with it.
They have learned that just because you are saved, it doesn’t mean you can live life after the flesh. If you live like the world, you will suffer like the world. If you enjoy the pleasures of sin, you will suffer the consequences of sin. Salvation is a one-time decision, but the abundant life in Christ is the result of a lifetime of faithfulness.
There are other wonderful benefits that our family has gained by serving God and people together. Yes, it has been work, and at times, it has not been easy, but I am so thankful for the honor and privilege it has been to serve in the bus ministry with my family.