Big Green Bus
Riverside Christian Church managed to acquire an ex-Stagecoach service bus with the help of Teen Challenge Sunnybrae.
Our thanks go to both Teen Challenge and to Stagecoach for making this possible.
The vehicle came straight from service in the Sheffield/Rotherham area and work began immediately to strip out the interior and prepare the exterior for painting.
After several months of work and fund raising, the vehicle was completed and provides an open seating area at the front, together with an enclosed area at the rear for more confidential discussions.
Since coming into service, we have seen many people come onboard looking for help with addictions and other issues.
Around 14 people have gone to various rehabilitation centres around Britain, seeking to break free from their addictions.
- To provide a drop in service in a non-judgemental environment where people can come and talk in confidentiality.
- To be a non-threatening point of contact for people with issues.
- To reach out and offer hope to broken and hurt people.
- To educate the vulnerable to the problems of substance abuse
- To involve all local Churches and relevant support groups.
Big Green Bus Story as related by Pastor John Coppard.
The journey to operating the Big Green Bus is a long one, but one full of God and His grace.
The journey began in June 2009 during our opening of the Riverside Church building, when 2 young men, in their 20’s, came in.
They were not the usual type of people, then, that would normally come into the Church.
They were not the best dressed, in fact they would probably be described as scruffy.
One of them engaged with me about how he was a heroin addict, but had been clean for about 3 months.
His friend had been clean for over a year, and was trying to help him as best he could, but he was still struggling.
It transpired that this young man knew me, as he used to go to a Church with his parents, around 25 years previously.
His parents were known to us, but the young man was only a child when we last saw him.
We sat and talked for about an hour about how he felt he wasn’t being helped in his fight with heroin addiction, and that he was very concerned that he would be back using drugs in the near future if he didn’t get help.
We were not equipped to help this young man at the time, as we had never been involved with addicts, and we were not in any way drugs counsellors.
We tried to encourage him as best we could, until he left the Church.
As he was leaving, he asked a very poignant question, which was, ‘Why don’t Churches help people like me?’
This question hit my spirit like a hammer, but I didn’t know how to deal with it.
My answer at that time was, ‘What can Churches do to help addicts when they don’t attend Church?’
As time passed, the conversation and encounter with the young man diminished, until I read in the Press & Journal about 3 months later, that he had taken his own life, and was found hanged in a hotel in Forres, where homeless people were offered accommodation.
This greatly affected me, and all the feelings of helplessness and guilt came flooding over me.
I determined that the Church had to do something about the problems facing addicts in our town and area.
The only Christian agency I knew about was Teen Challenge Sunnybrae in Fyvie, who operated a rehab centre for men, and also a rehab centre beside Mintlaw for women.
As a result of our enquiries, they agreed to send their outreach bus to Buckie, behind the Riverside Church, every Tuesday for 2-3 hours.
Some of the ladies in the Church thought it would be a good idea to make some soup for the volunteers on the bus, and anybody who came onto the bus looking for help and advice on addictions.
This was so successful, that we opened it up to the general public as a fundraiser to help addicts and their families.
It has grown to a position where we serve up to 74 people from 12 until 2pm.
Unfortunately, due to various reasons, after 2 years of coming to Buckie faithfully, the Teen Challenge bus could no longer come.
We continued with the Soup & Sweets every Tuesday, and it is instrumental in funding our outreach which we named Life Challenge Outreach.
After much prayer and discussion with people with the same vision, we actively sought our own bus that we could convert into a vehicle which we could use in our community to reach the lost, especially those with addictions.
Around 2013, we were contacted by Teen Challenge to ask if we were still looking for a bus, and after a conversation with them, we were offered a single decker service bus from Stagecoach in Sheffield.
We agreed to buy the bus for £2000 but were unsure how to get it from Sheffield to Buckie, but God had it all in hand and it was driven up to Glasgow, where two of Teen Challenge Sunnybrae support workers went and drove it up to Buckie.
We then spent about a year designing and refurbishing the bus into what it is today.
The inside was completely gutted, and new fittings were built.
We have a little seating area at the rear of the bus for a more private setting for talking to people.
This also has a flat screen T.V. on which we can show DVD’s etc.
In the main central area of the bus, we have installed 2 tables with 4 seats at each on a frame where we can sit and talk and share a tea or a coffee.
We have also installed a counter with cupboards underneath for storage down the offside of the bus.
We also had the bus painted green (hence the name, the Big Green Bus), with the name Life Challenge Outreach on it along with our logo ‘Busta’.
In November 2014, we put the bus on the road, and have been going out into the town every Friday behind the Riverside Church on Shanks Lane from 1.30pm until 4.30pm.
Altogether, we have seen around 14 people away to various rehabilitation centres, and most have remained drug or alcohol free after completing the program.
We also have been able to connect with a lot of people in the sub culture of addictions, even if they don’t feel they need to go to rehab.
Ways to help us.
You can support our work in various ways.
We would really appreciate it if you could pray for the following:
* Pray that God would make the Bus known to those in need.
* Pray for the person struggling with addictions and their families.
* Pray for the Life Challenge Outreach volunteers to have wisdom and compassion.
You can volunteer to help on the Big Green Bus.
The Bus is out every Friday from 1.30pm - 4.30pm in Shanks Lane.
To become a Bus volunteer:
* You must be over 18 years of age to satisfy health and safety criteria.
* You must have a living active faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and be part of a Church and have a good reference from your Church Pastor/leader, indicating your commitment and faithfulness to the Lord and the Church.
* You must be free from any addiction to drugs and alcohol for a period of time.
We would greatly appreciate any financial support that you could give us, and there are a number of ways to do that.
In person - come and have your lunch in Riverside Church every Tuesday at our Soup & Sweet Lunches from 12-2pm at a cost of £3.50.
By cheque (made payable to Life Challenge Outreach) and send to Riverside Christian Church, 24 East Church Street, Buckie, AB56 1AE.
By Paypal - simply click on the donate button and this will take you to the Paypal site where you can enter your own amount to donate.