The bus driver informed me, “I’m writing up Joey because of the language he was using on the bus today.”  I smiled politely and thanked the driver.

After Joey had come into the gym,  I gently put my arm into his arm and as we walked to his seat.  Quietly, I asked him, “You know what happens after you are written up by the bus?”

“Yeah.  After three times, they kick you off the bus,”  he said sadly.

“That’s right and then you won’t be able to ride the bus to work or to Special Gathering,”  I reminded him.  We both agreed that this wouldn’t make Joey, his parents or me happy.  I prayed for Joey; and we were able to begin our day with a renewed commitment to the Lord.

After church, Joey–who is known for his behaviors, not for a repentant spirit–spoke to the driver as he embarked the vehicle,  “I was wrong.  I’m sorry.  I won’t talk like that again.”  The driver looked at me, eyebrows raised in questioning wonder.  I smiled.

There are several reasons it makes sense to access public transportation for ministries who work within the special needs community.  First is the Joey Principle.  When there is a problem with behaviors during the long trip to and from church, your ministry becomes the ministers of healing for the bus driver and for your members.  The ministry isn’t the bad guy.  You can come along side with prayer, offering recommitment and love, rather than a harsh reprimand.  (Joey had gotten the harsh reprimand from the bus driver.)

Second, your ministry is not liable.  Years ago in another state, a county-owned van had an accident while transporting the members of a sister ministry.  One of the members was injured.  Though the injury didn’t appear to be serious, complications developed and it turned into a major problem.  Our sister ministry was able to help and love her member but the county was liable for the accident–not the ministry.

Third is the overall cost.  Purchasing a van is a major expensive.  Yet, the upkeep can be even more expensive.  Therefore, the amount your members must pay on public transportation to be transported is minimal compared to the cost of owning vans.

Fourth, it has become harder and harder for churches to lend their vans.  One church was totally committed to Special Gathering in lending their vans.  However, their insurance company balked.  After months of research, they found no company that would allow them to lend their vans. 

Fifth, each week we take the fare for the buses from the members’ weekly cash offering.  We want our members of know that it cost them something to ride the buses.  We want to teach them that what they receive always has a price tag and someone must pay the freight.  At times, some of our members get the idea that they get things for free.  We want impress on them the principle that nothing comes for free.

Each ministry will be able to work out the best way for them to access public transportation.  In larger cities, most people can hop on a regular bus route and arrive wherever they need to go.  Smaller counties may be willing to work with a ministry if  the ministry staff is willing to do most of the work of scheduling and monitoring the routes for them. 

What are some of the ways you have found to make transportation easier for your special needs ministry?  Have you been forced to think outside the box in regard to transportation?  What have been your solutions?