Why Have A Bus Ministry?

By Pastor Bobby Roberson (1931-2018)

Taken from a message preached by Dr. Bobby Roberson at the National Bus & Sunday School Convention at Clays Mill Road Baptist Church, Lexington, Kentucky, October 6, 2005.

Pastor Bobby Roberson (1931-2018)I love the bus ministry. We have been in the bus ministry for about 37 years, and I will tell you in a minute how we got started. If I wasn’t pastoring, I would get a bus route. A bus captain will win more people to Christ in his lifetime than the average church will.

Notice James 5:20, "Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." That is the job for you and me. We are to let him know that he which converts the sinner from the error of his way — gets it changed — will save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins. James had been talking about some Christians that have backslidden, but I think you can use this just as it says here. If we can get people converted, we can save them from the error of their ways.

Bro. Roloff used to say, "God, I want to see you do something so great that people will have to say that God did it — man just couldn’t do it." We’ve got enough of this "patting-men-on-the-back" stuff. If there is any good thing, God does it! If it wasn’t for God, the devil would tear our church all to pieces. He is the One that keeps it going!

Without a vision, the people perish. I’m sure that every one of you that has a bus ministry got a vision of the need. I want to share this with you. Back in 1967, I had no intention of having a bus ministry. I had never even thought of one. One Sunday morning during the summertime, we had a death in our church family. I went before church to try to comfort the family who lived about 8 or 10 miles from our church. I was on my way back to church that morning and about four or five miles from church I passed a mobile home park with about 75 mobile homes. I will never forget this, and I don’t ever want to lose what God showed me that day. I looked out and there were probably between 25 and 40 little boys and girls there in that trailer park. It was a beautiful sunny day, and they were all gathered as neighbors. They were playing together. God didn’t speak in an audible voice, but just about. He seemed to say, "Bobby, I want you to do something. Get those little boys and girls to church to hear about Jesus. They will go to Hell and never hear about it."

I found out that when God is in something He will put it together. I think it must have been two or three months, and I didn’t know what to do. I just couldn’t get it off my mind. I was preaching in Maryland in a church running about 100 in Sunday school. I had preached there several times. The pastor and I were riding down the highway, and I told him that I couldn’t get those kids off my mind. He said, "If you are interested in some old school buses, we can keep going on this highway and a man must have 200 down here in the field. He sells them."

I said, "Keep on driving." We went down there, and I didn’t have in mind anything but to get one bus. But, I found four little 1959 Ford 48-passenger buses. They were all just alike. The man said he would like $900 apiece. He said, "If you want the four, I will give them to you for $3,500." I never have bought anything for the first price. I didn’t know the man was Jewish, and I said, "Couldn’t I jew you down a little bit?" I will never forget that! He let me know right away that he didn’t care if I got his buses! I said, "I am very sorry about that." I went back to Gospel Light and called my deacon board together. I shared with them about that Sunday morning. They voted and said, "Let’s get the buses." I had never driven a school bus before in my life, and four of us went to get the buses. The fellow that sold us the buses picked us up at the airport and took us to where the buses were. We got started at four o’clock on Monday afternoon and headed to North Carolina. When we got it, we parked the buses behind our church.

I didn’t preach about it every Sunday, but I would throw out a thought every once in awhile. Bobby Willard is one of the finest men, but he is just as blunt as he could be. He will tell you what he thinks of you right quick. He came down the aisle one Sunday morning, and I thought, "Oh, boy." (You know, God uses people that you don’t think He will use.) I said, "Bobby, what do you want?" and this is what he said, "These buses you have been preaching about — I’m going over to the south side of town to get those youngin’s you have been talking about." He didn’t know one thing about a bus.

I said, "There you are. Go over there on Saturday and visit them," and he did. I can remember it just as if it were yesterday. The sixth week he came up to me and said, "I got to have another bus or something; I had 92 this morning!" That is the way our bus ministry got started.

I got a fellow who had worked with Dr. Beebe to come, and he worked us for a few weeks and got us organized. He is the man that God used to get that ministry going at Gospel Light.

Dr. Jim Vineyard said that you ought to have division leaders. We have never hired a bus director, so I got four of my laymen together and made them the division leaders — north, east, south, and west. I said years ago, "We need to hire a bus director." They said, "You are our boss. If you hire a director, we are quitting." So we have never had a bus director. I am the bus director. That is not the best way to run it, but it runs.

I love the bus ministry. There are a lot of heart-aches and headaches, but we have had literally thousands of people saved in the bus ministry down through the years. We will average 20 saved each week from just the bus ministry. We have men pastoring churches who got saved in our bus ministry.

A few years ago a man wanted me to come preach for him. Before I got up to preach, he started to introduce me. He kept bragging about the Gospel Light bus ministry. I thought, "Let me preach." He said, "I knew a little girl about 10 years old that had a sister that lived in a home where the parents were wicked and ungodly. One morning someone knocked on her door from Gospel Light and asked if they had any children. They got saved. Those two little sisters came for years. I will always love you for that." Then he said, "Honey, stand up. One of those is my wife!" I would like to have come unglued then!

Let me tell you something. When you lose your vision, you will quit. If you had a vision to help start a route one time, and you have kind of cooled off, the people are in need worse than when you started. The problem is that you have lost your vision and let something come in.

Why should you have a bus ministry?

To help keep people out of Hell.

It seems that we have lost a glimpse that there is a burning Hell for everyone that rejects Jesus Christ. Everybody I look at, and everybody you look at, is either going to Heaven or Hell. The bus ministry is a great tool to help people stay out of Hell. That is our job. We are to go after them. The Lord never did tell lost men to come to church. But God tells us over and over to go get them. There are a lot of houses where no one has ever knocked on their door. There are more lost people than ever. We have some good churches in the Winston-Salem area. I thank God for them. But there are more lost people than all of us could get! I can start out Saturday and knock on four or five doors, and there are a lot people who have never had anyone knock on their door. The bus ministry gets you out among the people. I don’t care if it is a Volkswagen ministry. Get out there and get them! I led a man to the Lord a few years ago three miles from our church. It was summertime, and he was sitting in the shade in front of his house. I went up there and started talking to him. He was 94 years old. I talked to him a little while and I said, "Do know that you are going to Heaven when you leave this world?"

He said, "No, I don’t."

I said, "Has anybody ever told you how you can go to Heaven and know it?" I am not talking about Africa; this was three miles from our church.

He said, "No, sir."

I showed him the plan of salvation and led him to Christ. Six months later I conducted his funeral. You will not find many people knocking on doors! You don’t have to go to college to run a bus route. You just get out there and tell them what Jesus has done for you! That is the way we keep people out of Hell!

A bus ministry helps salvage some homes.

You see, you may pick up the kids first, but the kids can get a lot of the parents. A lot of homes may be broken up, but you would be surprised how God would use that kid in that home.

Some years ago, one of my men said, "Preacher, can I take that extra bus and go to Greensboro? I got some folks there, and I can’t get them in church there, but I can get their kids." He went down there and got eight his first Sunday. He got six the second week. This happened several times. I thought, "I believe I will just tell him that he ought to drop that thing." He picked up two little girls. He went back the next Saturday, and the parents came to the door and asked where the church was. The parents said they were going with the kids. The husband and wife had been talking, and they thought they ought to be in church too. They wouldn’t ride the bus; they followed the bus everywhere the bus captain went and followed the bus to church! That bus worker brought the couple to the couples’ class I had at the time and introduced them to me. About five or six weeks later, they got saved. That has been 30 years ago, and they never miss a Sunday morning, Sunday night, or Wednesday night! Those girls have grown up and have families of their own! I could tell you story after story. If we will work the bus ministry, we might help some families from breaking up. You would be surprised how God can take a little child and reach their parents and help salvage a home.

It is a good way to help salvage our nation.

It can’t happen in the White House, but it can happen when people get saved. You would be surprised how God could use our churches to win souls. God changes people when they get saved, and that will change a nation! I am not talking about our nation becoming Heaven on earth. We will never win the nation, but maybe we can win many of them to the Lord through the bus ministry!

It will help stall the wrath of God.

Do you remember Lot in Genesis 19? Do you remember that God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness? Abraham said, "Will you spare it for 50?" He got down to 10 righteous. God said that He would spare that city if He could see 10 righteous people. You know that if Lot would have gone down there and knocked on some doors and lived right; if he had stayed out of the society of Sodom; if he had won souls, there could have been thousands that would not have been destroyed and gone to Hell. God can use the bus ministry to stall the wrath of God for a while — even in America.

It is great way to bring a little sunshine in peoples’ lives.

You and I could spread a little sunshine in a life. The only thing some kids have to look forward to each week is Mr. Bus-man coming by. You will never know until you go out there on Saturday and take a little bubble gum. They live in a fighting, cussing, and drinking world. Just to have someone come in there and tell them that they love them can mean the world to them. Spread a little sunshine. I like to go out to the bus barn and give a handful of them a hug. You can tell that they are dying for someone to care. We need to go after them.

Our world is in a mess. If we have ever needed the bus ministry, we need it now. I don’t believe there has ever been a time in the history of the United States where people just need somebody to love them. We need, as churches, to let them know that somebody cares — somebody loves them. Whether you are in the bus ministry or not, compassion makes the difference. Let’s ask God to help us be compassionate.

I don’t know any other tool that reaches as many people here in America as the bus ministry does. It is one of the greatest missionary works in the world.

Dr. Bobby Roberson (1931-2018) was the loyal Pastor of the Gospel Light Baptist Church in Walkertown, North Carolina for 61 years! Thank God for this dear soulwinning man of God!

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