Who’s on your bus?

loading_upEvery morning our VBS team would pile on the bus to go to a soccer field somewhere in El Salvador.

And every afternoon we’d board again to ride to a school together.

Most of us had no clue where we’d end up or the directions to get there.

But we knew who we would be with.

The Holy Spirit.
And our teammates.

I knew by heart most of the people from my own church, but this was a three-church mission, not including the two churches working alongside us from El Salvador itself. So I barely knew my other co-workers except by name tags.

Sometimes I’d sit on the bus with girls from my own group.
That was easy.
That was my comfort zone.

But more often than not, I’d ride beside a woman I barely knew. the_bus_ride

I’m glad God gave me lots of bus rides.

Because it was during the bus rides I saw more of God through the stories of my co-workers.

Do you ever get so caught up in who you’re serving
that you don’t notice who you’re serving with?

Who else is on the bus?

  • On one bus ride I learned how God pulled a mom from a life of worldliness.
         When her father grew weak from cancer and came to live with her, he wanted to learn more about Jesus. After one visit to church, the dad was visited by the preacher at their house to talk, many times. But the daughter was listening in too.
         And the whole family ended up knowing the Lord and now has a beautiful testimony to share.
  • On another bus ride, I saw God’s strength working through a grandmother.
         Although she had plenty of reasons to NOT come on the trip—lupus, single, a mentally-challenged adult daughter—she came anyway to bring her teenage grandson and give him a fighting chance to know Jesus. She’s tried hard through the years to keep him acquainted with Christ through her influence, but as he gets older, her opportunities to influence him are narrowing.
         She was praying this trip of service would plant great seeds of faith in him.
  • On other bus rides I learned who was concerned about her ailing mom back in the States in assisted living
  • Who was a little claustrophobic and sitting wherever she could on the bus—in faith
  • Whose oldest child was leaving for a Christian college when they returned from the trip
  • Who was already in love with their first grandchild due in October
  • On and on, story after story of dependence upon God’s goodness and faithfulness in the lives of his people

When the bus would stop at our location, we’d unload and get to work loving on kids and doing our VBS. Time for swapping stories then was limited.handing_out_snacksthe_teamcreation_day_4the_VBS_skitBut back on the bus, we could start all over again, getting to know more about each other. And more about God.

Who is it you co-labor with?

  • Maybe someone in the preschool department at your church
  • Or a friend in a homeschool co-op
  • Or maybe the parent of your child’s best buddy

Get to know the people who minister alongside you.
They hold a gift from God to you, and you hold one from Him to them.

Maybe the gift will be a piece of knowledge you’ll need down the road, or a word of encouragement you need this morning.

Maybe it’s the missing puzzle piece you need to hear so you’ll be more compassionate to a teenage boy who was earlier getting on your nerves.

Or maybe it’s a friendship that will outlast your current ministry together.

Whatever the gift and wherever you serve,
link arms not only for the task at hand,
but link hearts for the journey.

You’ll both gain more from the ride—and give more glory to the Father—by sharing your stories. on_the_bus

* * *

Who is on your bus? How well do you know their God-story?

Can you ask them? Can you share yours?


Anonymous said...

I love your photos, Lisa, and working with kids. We can be goofy (kids again) and no eyebrows are raised! Thanks for sharing!

Lisa notes... said...

I know what you mean, Ruth. I think God delights in watching us play with kids AS kids again. I know I love watching my own almost-grown daughters when they still giggle together.

I’m so thankful I was able to work with the kids in El Salvador. Their curiosity, their playfulness, their joyful acceptance of what we brought them all made a deep impression on me.

The Wild Optimist said...

This is a great post! It sounds like you had a great time and are a walking advertisement for getting involved in ministry, and that's fabulous:) I have found beauty in the servers, too. It is so inspirational, isn't it?
I hope all of your colleagues see this, and everyone finds the blessings they need- including you, the writer;)

Lisa notes... said...

Thank you for the encouragement—it is another blessing this morning!

Beth in NC said...

Oh Lisa, as you know -- your post hit home with me and made my eyes water.

Such a beautiful post and how wonderful to hear the stories of the other people serving next to you. How often do we take time to hear the stories of those serving beside of us!?! Not enough.

Bless you today! (I just subscribed to your blog via email.)



Barbara H. said...

You look so cute as Miss Sunshine. :-D

I love hearing stories of how God has worked in lives.

Lisa notes... said...

It’s a reminder to myself too to take the time to get to know the back-stories. I admit I had moments on the trip where it seemed like too much energy to try to get to know people that I might not see again after that week, but I’ll see them in heaven for all eternity! And by knowing more about them, I grew more in love with Jesus. So it’s always worth it.

Praying for you and those you are serving with as you care for your parents…

Lisa notes... said...

Well, Barbara, I guess you could say I was the main “star” of VBS for a few seconds each day. ha. I was blessed to work with my other shining friends too—the moon and stars (although technically the moon just reflects, but Yvonne did that well too). :-)

Maria I. Morgan said...

Great post! It IS so important to 'encourage the brethren.' I agree that sometimes we forfeit great gifts God has for us, when we don't take the time to reach out in friendship to those we're serving with. We need to be aware of both the non-believers AND believers alike, who God brings across our path. Thanks for the inspiration! God bless!

Shanda said...

I love this. Mission trips often are about team building and growing from others on the team. It is so important to value and encourage our coworkers. And..what a wonderful opportunity! I lived in Honduras, Costa Rica and Honduras for 15 years and loved the people.

Stephani said...

I like that statement, "do you ever get so caught up in who you serving that you don't notice who you're serving with?" We think God has put us there to minister to someone in need, maybe that's true, but mmaybe it's someone else that needs us or that we need. As Christians, everyone we come in contact with is there to assist us OR be assisted by us. Nice post Lisa!

Denise J. Hughes said...

This is a great post. Who's on my bus? How well do I know their "God-story"? These are great questions to ponder. I love missions. And I love serving alongside others. But you're right. I should invest more time in getting to know those I serve with.

Katie said...

I love this! Beauty found in each person and their story. Thank you!

Alyssa said...

The insight into our co-laborers lives is so important -- it draws us together as humans and created, loved children of God. I will be thinking about that analogy today. Sometimes who's on my bus is not who I'd choose, but God did and I need to set myself aside long enough to look at them and ask God to help me love who I'm sitting next to :) Thanks

Caroline said...

I love this perspective on noticing, knowing, and loving who we're serving with. Deepening that love seems like it could produce more for God's glory!

Lisa notes... said...

I read a great post yesterday about encouraging each other at “life together” blog that you might appreciate too:

Stoke the Fire by Encouraging Others

I so agree that we need to be aware of both non-believers and believers that God puts both in our lives - both for His glory and for our good.

How wonderful that you’ve actually lived in Central America to get a true feel for the ministry opportunities there. We were very blessed by how hospitable the people were and our evangelism team in particular was encouraged by the people’s willingness to listen as the gospel was shared.

Mama Mpira said...

A brilliant reminder to really look at and listen to those we work with, come alongside of and journey life with...so much to learn about how God works through us all.

Lisa notes... said...

I just saw your comment echoed as I was reading in Philippians 4:15 about Paul thanking the Macedonians for their willingness to partner with him in both giving blessings and receiving them in return. I’m thankful God knows who to partner us with to either assist or be assisted by.

So thankful to be walking along this part of our journeys together, and partnering in more ways than just words on a screen. God knows our heart prayers for each other.

Nikole Hahn said...

A little listening and you can harvest a story that touches your own life. I love when that happens. Too often we get into a hurry and don't allow a touching of our lives.

HisFireFly said...

Who He places around us is never an accident. May we always have open ears and open hearts!

Lisa notes... said...

“Too often we get into a hurry” -- hurry is often my biggest enemy. A little listening can go a long way…

Bonnie Gray said...

"link hearts for the journey."

I'm glad you on my bus here online, Lisa! :)

I LOVED seeing you in action doing VBS!! Thank for sharing the stories of the women on the bus with you -- it is so humbling to be inspired by those who are walking by faith. They are the unsung heroes of faith... btw, I loved you as the "star" or sunflower, too! Getting blessed by others on a missions trip is definitely a big blessing. Everyone's guards are down, when we're all in unknown territory! :)

Jeri@GodsDreamsForMe said...

I'm taking a good look around my bus...oh, look who I see Lisa! Thank You so very much for this.

Lisa notes... said...

I’m glad to be riding with you too. Your FaithBarista blog makes such a journey in hearts wherever it is read, I’m certain of that. I appreciate your faithfulness in hosting FaithJam each Thursday so we can share our stories as we sit side by side on the bus. You’re a blessing!

I was the Sun in the VBS plan, the ultimate “Star”! :-)


Lisa notes... said...

{smiles} Thank you. It’s a blessing to travel alongside you.

I know you’re thankful to have Ezekiel as a new passenger on your bus. I pray he is doing well, growing bigger and stronger every day. He will be very blessed to have you in his life!

Monica Sharman said...

Lisa, thanks for making me aware. Now I'll be looking around the bus. So often I'm too focused on accomplishing my own mission that I forget to look up at everyone around me. I just did that the day before I read this post, so I should have read it earlier. :}

Lisa notes... said...

I probably need to tack a picture of a bus to my dresser to keep myself aware too. :-) It’s so easy for me to focus on the project instead of the people. Thanks for being one of those who help me remember to look up.


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