Help is Just a Prayer Away

The recession was a serious concern in the early eighties. Reagan’s policies had not yet had a chance to take affect and turn the economy around. I was paying no attention to this. After all I just got married and was starting out as a Gospel preacher. The church could only pay me seventy dollar a week, so I needed a part-time job.

A long-time family friend worked for Dale-Roy School which is a school for mentally handicapped men, women and children. She mentioned their need for bus drivers. Since I worked a couple of summer breaks as a teacher and as a counselor for their summer camps, the administrators already knew me and I knew most of their students. After a week long course on school bus driving, I was ready to hit the road.

My route covered a large portion of the northern part of Ashland County. I had to get up at 4:30 every school day and start my route by 5 am. I enjoyed the drive through the beautiful Ohio countryside and into the small villages of my route. The only down side is the route was long and the bus was aging. To top it off, at the beginning of the school year the bus mechanic and supervisor quit and the bus maintenance sharply declined. However, each bus was equipped with a two-way radio, so I was always in touch with the school. Even in Amish country, where there were no telephones or even telephone lines.

One morning as I was about to cross over a major set of railroad tracks. I stopped, opened the bus door to look and listen before proceeding across. This was state law. But that morning, there was a thick fall fog greatly limiting visibility. Just as the bus reached the half way point across the multiple set of train tracks the bus stopped. It refused to go any further. I immediately grabbed the radio and told them of my plight. The school superintendent who took my call told me to immediately evacuate the bus and get the kids to safety. This was going to be a challenge since I had some small children in wheel chairs and large car seats. Just then I heard a bang on the driver’s side window of my bus. A man said, “Looks like the bus is stuck. Put it in neutral and I well push the bus off the tracks with my milk truck.” In less than a minute the bus was pushed off the tracks and had coasted safely to the side of the road. Several minutes later a train passed by at about 50 mph. while we waited for another bus to arrive.

Later that year we had our first significant snowfall – about six inches. The roads were clear and driving the bus was not a problem. However, coming down a large hill the bus made an odd sound, the engine died, and the bus started to fill with smoke or steam. Again I immediately went into action pulling the bus off the highway on a snow covered dirt road. After unloading the bus. I return to radio my situation into the school. Within minutes the state highway patrol, the county sheriff, and a fire truck were on the scene. In a time before cell phones the two-way radio was without a doubt a necessity.

What the radio was for a school bus driver, so prayer is for the Christian. This has been the situation for many men and women who have found themselves in desperate situations as they travel down the road of life. When Job was hit by one trial after another, he could pray. When Jonah was swallowed by a great sea creature, he still had the ability to pray for rescue. When Elijah was running for his life from queen Jezebel, he turned to God in prayer. Hezekiah took his concerns to God in prayer when the Assyrians had surrounded Jerusalem. The Psalmist wrote,

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
– Psalm 23:4

Hear my prayer, O Lord,
And let my cry come to You.
Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble;
Incline Your ear to me;
In the day that I call, answer me speedily.
– Psalm 102:1,2

Remember, help is just a prayer away.

— Daniel R. Vess

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