Eden West Bowling
As spring turned to summer it was time to relaunch our outreach to the children of West Bowling, Bradford. The Yorkshire Message Bus and Jack were the launches of this. The Yorkshire Bus had visited West Bowling before over the last few years but this time we had it booked into work as part of a whole summer programme. The idea was for the Message Bus to be the flagship that relaunched us in the community, Eden West Bowling hadn’t long formed before Covid-19 and had never had many opportunities to get established in the area. Five sessions on the Message Bus were to be followed with another five sessions held back at St Stephen’s Church. This would then run into our summer holiday programme, which in turn would lead into the clubs and youth groups we run in church and local schools.
In early May Eden West Bowling was invited to Rotherham, where the bus was stored to meet with Jack and get trained for the summer sessions. Being able to spend time with Jack, get to know the bus and importantly understand how the bus is used to share the Gospel was key for our team. Many members of the team had not previously gone out sharing the Gospel with people they had only just met. The Bus coming to West Bowling was as much about building confidence and experience in the team as it was about meeting members of the community.
The first four weeks of bus sessions were held by Parkside Park, an area that has no buildings for us to host sessions. The bus was an instant attraction, drawing kids from the park and those passing by. Parents were messaging other parents, kids were texting friends, and word spread quickly on social media of this unbelievable bus that had a climbing wall, games consoles and a slide. This was combined with hot chocolates and snacks, games of rounders and football. Each week over 60 children attended sessions on the bus with the majority staying to hear the gospel talk. In the first week, we were able to give out 40 copies of Mark’s Gospel and over the following weeks, this increased to 100 copies. The majority of the population in West Bowling is Muslim so opportunities to share the Gospel are exceedingly precious.
Our desire for the Message Bus was to build relationships with a couple more families and welcome them to church but within the first few sessions parents were asking for us to host more and more clubs and opportunities for their children to be involved. There is now a sizable number that wants to come along each week where we will be sharing the Bible. Our expectations have been blown away. Our team is energised and we have crowds of kids eager for more.