Three Buses, a Van, 9 Drivers, and 120 Students

Every year at Missions Fest Vancouver, for many years, the whole student body of Capernwray Harbour Bible School come to the conference and serve as volunteers. They start their weekend by helping exhibitors move in at 6:30am on Friday, lead worship for over 900 students in the Field Trip, continue as Seminar hosts in the afternoon on Friday and Saturday, and, in one of their most important roles, serve as ushers and prayer team in the youth rallies.

This team of amazing youth and their leaders serve with very little support from Missions Fest Vancouver. For years, they’ve humbly slept on the floor offered at First Baptist Church in downtown Vancouver. They’ve bathed at the YMCA across the road from the church, and they’ve walked the 1.4 kilometers each way, day and night.

After several years of being aware that change was coming, we needed to find a different space for the students this year; First Baptist’s floors became unavailable as the church began development of a tower as part of their Heart for the City project. Graciously, a couple churches offered their space to Capernwray, and West Coast Christian Fellowship was finally chosen. The question then arose, “How do we transport the students from WCCF to the VCC and back again?” The answer clearly involved buses and drivers.

For many years, Missions Fest Vancouver operated a shuttle service from a parking lot on Waterfront Road to the VCC for exhibitors and attendees. In 2017, we lost the use of the parking lot and disbanded the shuttle service. Our long-serving and faithful Shuttle Coordinator, Tom Koe, stepped down in 2018, which made sense considering there was no one to shuttle. However, this loss left us in a pickle in 2019 with the new challenge of moving 120 students from WCCF to the VCC.

Although not directly associated with the shuttle service, another long-term volunteer, Les Huber, Coordinator of the Parking Lot, offered to step into the breach and help the Missions Fest office find buses and shuttle drivers. Slowly, through many phone calls, emails, and other modern methods of shaking the proverbial tree, the team got 2 buses for the Friday from Youth Unlimited, one van from G&I Shining Stars Youth Society, one large bus from West Coast Christian School for Saturday, and most of the drivers, but up to the Wednesday before Missions Fest, they were one driver short.

One driver short meant that a plan that had been laboured on for months was about to fall apart. We felt the stress in the office, and Les was feeling the stress at home.

He shared that “everything was down to the wire and nothing seemed to be panning out”. There was a certain degree of powerlessness, because the resources he had were limited. And, not only did he have to get a driver, he had to get the driver’s abstract approved for insurance purposes.

By Thursday, miraculously, we had offers to help from 10 drivers—two more than we needed!

It is understandable, then, that when Les looked out the front of the VCC on Friday and saw the buses lined up and the Capernwray students boarding, he felt a little bit emotional. Les and the office team had worked hard but God put the pieces together. Ted Bieber, one of the leaders from Capernwray, said that everything went incredibly smooth, and that moving the students by bus seemed more efficient that having them walk from First Baptist. Les reflected on the role of the drivers and buses: “If you didn’t have the small thing, you couldn’t have the big thing.”

I could write this story many times over. Missions Fest has over 600 volunteers to make the conference happen every year. Two things struck me about Les’ story. First, Les recognized that God had answered his prayers. Jesus is true to his word when he says that, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” He is faithful.

The second point of this story is that Les carried a piece of Missions Fest and carried it faithfully. He wrestled with it, prayed into it, and lost sleep over it. What would we have done if Les hadn’t done that? How would 120 vital volunteers have gotten to Missions Fest? What would have been lost to the 10,000+ attendees if Capernwray didn’t come? More importantly, what Les was carrying was not just a piece of Missions Fest, it was a part of God’s Kingdom. His availability, faithfulness, and intercession for this small part of a more complex event may have started someone on a missional journey that will have eternal consequences. 

At Missions Fest Vancouver, we get the chance to work with many people like Les. Can I encourage those who read this not to minimize the humble things God calls you to do? You have no idea how essential they are in the Kingdom. Your one small piece may make a huge difference, and your wrestling and intercession can fill a gap that others desperately need. 

First published in Church of Vancouver website: Feb '19

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