Last week I went to the induction of a vicar into his new parish. As usual when travelling around Christchurch I went by bus. At the end of the event I had just missed the bus that provided the quicker connection back to Papanui, so took the long, slow bus ride home. As I entered the bus wearing my clerical collar the bus driver gave me a friendly greeting. Another person asked the bus driver about the best way to get into town. The bus driver offered to drop him off down the road where he could catch the next bus. However, the passenger decided to stay on the bus for a while and take the long way into town. I soon realised why. The bus driver and the passenger had a long chat while the bus made its way through suburban streets. Apparently the bus driver knew my fellow passenger, who not long ago served his time (in prison) and was now earning a living in the outside world. The bus driver gave him encouragement to persevere in his job and to stay clean. He gave him good life advice and an opportunity to speak about his concerns. The passenger got off at a timing point, which meant the bus had to wait a minute or so before it continued. The bus driver used the opportunity to talk to me, asking me when I became a priest and telling me about his mission as a bus driver: “I’m a bus driver for Jesus,” he said. He talks to his passengers, listens to them and gives them advice, as well as telling them about what Jesus had done in his life.
As we continued on the route it was my turn to sit near the driver. We talked about Jesus and the
difference he made in our life. Soon more passengers entered. The bus driver gave each of them
attention. For some of them he knew exactly where to drop them off, even if there was no official bus stop there. Continuing from our conversation, he asked one of the passengers who joined in whether he was a Christian. “No, I’m an atheist,” the passenger replied. The bus driver expressed the hope that one day he may experience Jesus. The passenger seemed to leave the possibility open.
The driver gave an assurance that Jesus had made quite the difference in his own life, but did not push the good news of Jesus, instead showing his concern for the passenger as a person.
A little later the bus driver stopped to let another passenger off. But instead of getting out the back door, that passenger walked to the front to have a quick word with the driver.
He told the driver that his mother had died two months ago and he wanted him to know that. Apparently the driver had helped that passenger’s mother through the years and had listened to her concerns whenever she took the bus. The bus driver remembered her and expressed his condolences, being genuinely saddened at the death. Throughout the trip the bus driver was there for his passengers.
This was where his ministry was. He took full opportunity of the position God had put in to minister to the people he met in word action. In that he is also an example of what God can do in the world through faithful people.