South Point bus ministry continues helping children

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 16, 2004

SOUTH POINT - Childrens' faces light up with happiness when duo Dave and Dave walk up to their homes.

Dave Welton and Dave Henson are not singers or a comedy act, but two of 20 volunteers working for the Solida Baptist Church's bus ministry.

The pair make weekly rounds in area neighborhoods to visit with the children who ride the bus to Sunday services, Vacation Bible School and other special church events.

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The bus ministry started 15 years ago with one van. Today, two vans and three

school buses bearing the names Joy, Victory and Glory cover five routes across the Tri-State.

Welton is the bus program director and Joy's captain. Henson drives the bus. They pick up children from ages three to 18 along with some parents and grandparents who have started going to church because their children went.

The bus ministry is not just about picking kids up and dropping them off.

"I feel like we make a difference. We're not doing it for recognition, we're doing it for the blessing the Lord gives us," Welton said. "I've seen people's lives change."

Church volunteers also take time each week to visit with children and their families.

"You need to get to know the families. We have a little boy that got saved and baptized," Welton said. "His parents used to go to church, but they hadn't been going. Now, the parents also come in more regularly."

Pastor Aaron Childers praised the program.

"I think the bus ministry is the greatest outreach tool churches have today to reach people. Reaching children is of upmost importance," he said. "… Statistics show that 85 percent of people saved are between ages 4 and 14. They still have that tender heart for things of the Lord."

Welton began working with the bus ministry about six years ago - even before he became a member of the church. He remembered the first time they went knocking on doors.

"The woman slammed the door in our face," he said. "But we did not quit because there's a lot of children that would not have been reached."

"We've got a boy who's nine now. He was four when we first began picking him up. For the first few months, he would run away and try to hide. Now, he comes right up to the bus and is eager to go," Welton recalled.

A bible verse found in the book of Luke encompasses the volunteers' feelings about the need for childrens' ministry.

"And the lord said unto the servant, go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled."

The bus ministry is gearing up for Vacation Bible School from 7 to 9 p.m. June 28 through July 2

This year's theme will be "Sow, Know and Grow."

Each night, a group of children will be

taken to a farm for bible school and a hands-on farming experience. Last year, about 325 attended VBS with most of those children in the bus ministry.

"We hope to have even more this year," Welton said.

For information, call 894-6040.