by Rick Milligan (Rick is a driver for our Sunday bus service to Friends Home and also helps on special occasions to pick up our community friends from Center City Park and the IRC.)
Observations from an FBC bus driver . . .
As an FBC Sunday bus driver, I volunteer one Sunday per month to pick up and return our FBC members and guests who reside at Friends Home and Friends Home West. I signed up to be a volunteer driver a few years ago in response to an announcement during Sunday school when I was looking for ways to get more involved in the church. As a result, I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know several of our senior members over the past few years. The Friends Home residents are always gracious and welcoming and I have found the job to be very rewarding and a great way to start off a Sunday morning. As rewarding as this experience has been however; I recently experienced a serendipitous ‘side benefit’ of driving the bus that I have come to appreciate even more…
One Sunday this summer, as I was preparing to park the bus after returning to FBC from Friends Home; I was greeted in the parking lot by 30–40 of our homeless friends in need of a ride downtown following an FBC-sponsored lunch. Now, I had served the homeless community in this capacity previously so it was not a surprise for them to see me driving the bus; this was however, a surprise to me and I am ashamed to admit that I was not too pleased at having this monkey wrench thrown into my afternoon plans. As it turned out, God had decided this was an ideal time to teach me a valuable lesson about serving according to His schedule rather than mine.
As our guests approached the bus, I begrudgingly opened the door and invited them to board. I learned that there would be 3 round trips needed to accommodate everyone. The first bus load would go to City Center Park, the second bus load would be dropped off in front of the downtown public library and the final group would go to the bus depot. All I could think about was how late I was going to be in getting home to relax, but then something unexpected and very special happened. During each of the three trips, all of the riders were very gracious, thanked me for the ride and commented on the great meal they had just enjoyed. Some even stopped to shake my hand and wished me a good week ahead. The thing that struck me most however was how eagerly and graciously the homeless care for and minister to one another. I overheard several conversations between the riders and most went something like this….
“I’m not sure what I’m doing tonight.”
“I know a place where you can stay.”
“I need to find a phone so I can call my ride.”
“Here, you can borrow mine.”
“That sure was a nice lunch this afternoon.”
“You ain’t even lying.”
“I hope ______ has a ride back to the Y. Has anybody seen her?”
“She’s OK; she was on the earlier bus.”
“I don’t know how I’m going to carry all of this stuff.”
“Here, let me help you”
These, and similar conversations, took place throughout the ride and I admit I found it surprising that despite their personal hardships and challenges, these folks expressed genuine concern for one another and were willing to help however they could. It was truly heartwarming to see and hear so many offers of assistance from those who despite not having a lot of “things” to give were willing to give so freely of themselves. So here I was, supposedly serving and ministering to the homeless community and instead, God had used them to minister to me! I considered how I could learn a thing or two from these individuals and I reflected on my drive home that afternoon how I could apply what I had seen in my life. Since then, I have tried to be on the lookout throughout the day for opportunities to serve at home, at work, at church and throughout my daily travels. I have to say that I have found it amazing how many different ways there are to make a positive difference in somebody’s day if I just slow down, open my eyes and ears, and take the time to observe what is truly going on around me.
Who knew that as benign an activity as driving the bus could have such a profound impact on my daily outlook? God knew.