Life Challenge Outreach . . . helping people break free from addictions.
The Bus was started as a result of a very special meeting between our Pastor John Coppard and a young man addicted to drugs. This is the story:-
Big Green Bus Story.
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 Church building. It was during a time of open doors to the public that 2 young men, in their 20’s, came into the building. 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 us 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 come to a Church with his parents, that a few of us used to go to 25 years previously. His parents were known to us, but the young man was only a child when he came. 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 in the Church with addicts, and we were not in any way drugs councellors. We tried to encourage him as best we could until they 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 answer 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 that he had taken his life, and was found hanged in a hotel in Forres where homeless people were sent. 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 in Fyvie, who operated a rehab centre for men there, 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 & sweets 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 an outreach, but also 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, among whom are addicts. 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 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 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 thought about installing a mini kitchen at the front of the bus, but choose to simplify things and just have an area for tea or coffee making facilities. 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 in the afternoon behind the Church on Shanks Lane from 2pm until 5pm. We then felt it was right to extend the ministry to the Milton Drive area, so we take the bus there every Friday evening from 7pm until 10pm. We also have a Buckie Support Group, which meets in the Church, for families of addicts who are looking for people to talk to and to help them cope with the stresses that they feel. Altogether, we have seen 9 people away to rehabs, all of whom have become Christians and most have remained drug or alcohol free. 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 rehab.
We have a wonderful bunch of volunteers who man the bus unselfishly, around 15 from various Churches. Without them, this ministry would not have flourished.
Where to find the bus...
You can find the Big Green Bus in the car park on Shanks Lane every Friday between 2 and 5pm. Our Volunteers are available to chat with you and try to help you in any way that they can or you can call 01542 833923 to arrange a visit or meeting.
We are also parked in Milton Drive, beside The Home Bakery, every Friday night between 7 and 10pm.
- 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 problems.
- to reach out and offer hope to broken and hurt people.
- to educate the vulnerable in the problems of substance abuse
- to involve all local churches and relevant support groups.
- to see the bus in the town square on Saturday nights between 10pm and 3am offering a listening ear, a caring attitude and a helping hand to those with problems.