Monday, June 15, 2015

The Big Blue Bus

We had a visit from Rick Wismer and his BIG Blue Bus last week. What an amazing story he has to tell.  He started with Youth for Christ ministry nearly 20 years ago and joined the Refuge bus ministry a couple of years after that.  The idea of a bus grew out of the need to go where the people are rather than wait for the people to come to us.   As the Great Commission says, we are to go to all nations. 
   Early in the bus ministry, workers found where kids hung around a street corner with nothing to do but get into trouble.  That's the corner where the Refuge bus showed up, offering a positive alternative.  Over time it became clear that the blue bus had a special ministry for First Nations youth.  Now, at the invitation of the band leaders, Rick takes his bus to Tseycum, Tsawout, the Esquimalt Nation, Scia’new (Beecher Bay) and T'Sou-ke. 

    We began with a formal presentation during the worship time. 
Rick told us about the programs the bus ministry offers, namely, sports, snacks, games and fellowship, always mindful of what the particular host band council has agreed to.
    Given the recent release of the Truth and Reconciliation Report, Rick's visit was a timely reminder of the strained relations between the church and Indigenous peoples.  On one reserve, the chief had a bad experience with the church, but another member of the council had a good experience.  At her instigation, the band council has invited Rick and his bus so that the children will have a "positive Interaction", but he's not to preach Christianity or tell Bible stories. It is a fine line to walk, but, as Rick says, God opens doors.

   For those who like bus statistics, the Big Blue Bus is on hydraulics so it can be raised or lowered just like city buses to allow ease of people getting off and on.  That feature is also useful going over bad roads.
 Inside there are thirty seats so Rick can take kids on a trip.  There is also space at the back for meeting and it's loaded with video games.  I don't know if any of the congregation took up the invitation to try them out.

    SPPC has been a long-time supporter of the Blue Bus.  Rick thanked us for our gifts and urged the congregation to continue to pray for his ministry, to donate and to volunteer as we are able.

   In our usual SPPC style, we ended the morning with lunch!

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