The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

April 6, 2014

Rich Brown: Driver celebrates 35 years of transporting younger members to church

JOPLIN, Mo. — Wayne Nixon will tell you that driving a church bus is not just about transporting youngsters back and forth from church.

In his 35th year of driving church buses, this Carthage man said he believes it is important to provide a way for young riders to get to Sunday school and other church activities, but there is much more.

That much more has to do with not only reading verses from the Bible and having Sunday school lessons for youngsters during the bus rides but also visiting neighborhoods on Saturdays to invite children to church.

So it is no wonder that Nixon, 53, considers what he does his ministry, the last 15 years being spent at Crossroads Baptist Church near Carthage.

"We pick up the kids and bring them to Sunday school and church, which can lead to them getting saved and then baptized and that makes it all worthwhile," Nixon said.

He began driving at age 18 for Bible Baptist Church of Carthage and went to Faith Baptist in Joplin before heading to Crossroads, which was just starting a bus ministry with a 13-passenger van when Nixon arrived. He said it wasn't long before that ministry expanded to eight buses at its highest point.

Today, Nixon, who is also a substitute driver for Carthage R-9 Schools, is one of three drivers who go out at 7:30 a.m. each Sunday on three separate routes. Those routes extend beyond the Carthage area to Joplin, Webb City and Carl Junction.

He said he averages between 20 and 25 riders each time. Between 15 and 18 church workers accompany all three drivers on the routes to participate in Sunday school-like activities.

Bob Morgan, pastor of Crossroads, said volunteers also go out almost every Saturday to see if youngsters might be interested in coming to church and, if so, if they would like to be picked up by church buses.

"In the spring and summer when the kids are outside playing on Saturday mornings and the bus workers see them, they will go up and ask if they would be interested in coming to church," he said. "Then, if they are, they go and talk to the parents."

Nixon's wife, Janice, also plays a part in the family ministry as a Sunday school kindergarten teacher.

Crossroads, which is located at 17531 State Highway 96, is an independent fundamentalist Baptist church.

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