By Gary D. Erickson.
I hate big yellow buses! Being a suburban dweller as a youth put me in the beleaguered bus brigade. Each morning I would stand at the window and watch for the big yellow bus to come around the corner and then rush out to meet our friendly driver Ms. Youngblood. She would navigate our commute to school, collecting sleepy students along the way. The morning rides were quiet and peaceful, but the evening rides were the opposite.
The ride home in the evenings was like “Dante’s hell”! It was like a rolling riot! It was a mobile den of iniquity, an environment that encouraged the worst in people to surface. It was a mobile noise box filled with rambunctious kids who were fighting, throwing things, cursing, spitting, picking, kicking, and various other obnoxious behaviors. It was just the modus operandi on the big yellow bus.
Each evening, when my tortuous forty-five minute journey finally rolled to a stop, I would stumble inside my home and just sit quietly in my bedroom for a few minutes, trying to regain my mental equilibrium. I longed for the day I could escape from the five-day-a-week torture chamber—the big yellow bus. It was not a good place to be. Besides, I never really liked that ugly safety-yellow color.
Once I was old enough, I purchased my own car and enjoyed the luxury of mobile freedom. I could now choose where and with whom I wanted to go. Sometimes I would pass the big yellow bus and smile as I saw the distraught faces staring back at me through the windows. I could tell by the look in their eyes that they were dreaming of someday escaping from the big yellow bus.
After a few years I completed a transportation cycle. It was Sunday morning and I was back in the big yellow bus. Only this time I was in the driver’s seat. We were not going to Oak Terrace Junior High but to the Apostolic Bible Church. Our riders were not hapless captives coerced by truancy laws; they were volunteer students from the neighborhood on their way to Sunday school. The atmosphere was not like the former; it was sweet accordion music and the sound of singing children.
My wife and I were students at the Apostolic Bible Institute in St. Paul, Minnesota. We were given the keys to a big yellow bus and told to fill it up. We went door-to-door looking for signs of children scattered toys, freshly dug holes in the yard, broken shrubbery, or station wagons in the drive. After several weeks of interesting encounters, we had a bus full. Those were exciting days! Our recruiting was done during the summer months and through the winter we hunkered down and tried to hold our own. I can remember some cold snowy mornings trying to get the buses started.
We were not always successful. Bill and Debbie Kidwell were our compatriots as we trudged the streets on recruiting expeditions. Roger and Becky Buckland provided entertainment and music as we ran the route. Roger and Cheryl Koren were our bus leaders as we worked together building a thriving mobile ministry. I am sure there were others who helped with this exciting endeavor. The church Sunday school was accommodating to our new students, and we felt a great sense of accomplishment.
After graduation, we moved away and I have always wondered about all those little children. The investment we made will go with them for a lifetime. As a pastor for many years, I encountered other opportunities for mobile ministry. It has been a wonderful tool of evangelism over the years. It is expensive and hard work, but the rewards are eternal!
Mobile ministry became popular during the ’70s and many churches swelled to overflowing. Attendance records were broken and due to the fad/contagion mentality, many excesses were reported. Some have referred to this surge of interest in mobile ministry as “playing the numbers game.” After learning how expensive and laborious mobile ministry was, some churches discontinued the outreach. A number of our churches never slowed down and have large churches today as a result. Mobile ministry is not a relic of the ’70s; it is a vibrant way to build a church and to affect a community for many years to come.
I learned from my experience that big yellow buses are not bad if you are going to the right place. I love big yellow buses!
This article “I Love Big Yellow Buses” by Gary D. Erickson has been copyrighted and may only be used for research and study purposes only.