"Girls, let's move to the front of the bus since everyone else is gone." The three girls shook their heads emphatically no! Everyone knew the back of the bus had the bounciest seats. Miss Gloria reluctantly agreed as her head bounced up and down feeling as if it would separate from her spine at any moment, but she stayed put. Sharice, Shaniqua, and Aiyonna were special to her. She had prayed with each of them to receive the Lord Jesus.
The little girls started singing, "My Jesus, my Savior, Lord there is none like Youuuuu..." They sang as loud as they could to drown out the diesel engine. "All my days, I want to praiseeee ..."
It was too bad their mom wasn't here. Miss Gloria had befriended her over the time her daughters had been attending church. Tabitha had even come to several events the girls were involved in. Her sad, troubled eyes always tugged at Miss Gloria's heart; she knew it was difficult for her raising three kids alone with no support from their father.
They began a new song, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…;" Miss Gloria joined in. The girls turned and giggled at their Children's Church teacher. She smiled back.
The bus stopped and everyone got off. Grabbing Miss Gloria's hands, they ran up the two flights of stairs. She was just catching her breath as Shaniqua rang the doorbell to Apartment 333.
"Hey, babies!" Tabitha answered. "Did you have a good time? Hi, Miss Gloria. Thanks for walking them up."
Not another bruise! Oh Tabitha, she thought, but whispered, "Their Dad was by today, wasn't he?" Tabitha lowered her eyes, hugging her daughters, a smile pasted on her face to hide her obvious pain.
"Hey girls, go take off your coats while Mom and I talk." They raced each other to the tiny bedroom they shared.
"No big deal," she said, tears welling up as Miss Gloria gave her a big hug.
"Tabitha, honey, you need God's peace."
"Oh, Miss Gloria. Why do you keep saying that? It's not all that bad. I've got my three girls. I know where you're going with this, but I'm not going there!"
"But Jesus came so that you could have abundant life. Do you enjoy being sad all the time?"
"No-o-o," she hesitated.
Miss Gloria saw her opportunity. "Then pray with me and ask Jesus to bring you His peace."
The girls came running in at that moment. "Oh, Mama, do it! Please! Then Jesus will live inside of you, too!" Tabitha looked down at her pleading daughters and then back at Miss Gloria.
"Pleaseeeee Mama," little four-year-old Aiyonna's lower lip quivered.
"Will it really make any difference?" Tabitha said searching Miss Gloria's face. "Sure, who likes living this way, but can your Jesus change things like this?" she said, wincing as she touched her swollen eye.
"Jesus can change everything in your life! But you have to let Him."
Now Tabitha's lower lip was quivering. Her daughters looked up at her expectantly. Miss Gloria waited, praying silently.
Suddenly, she said resolutely, "If Jesus can change my life like He changed yours, I want to do it! But how?"
"Just tell God you're sorry for your sins, Mama, and you want Jesus to come in and change your life. And He will!" offered Sharice. "I'll pray with you, Mama, just like Miss Gloria prayed with me."
Tabitha followed Miss Gloria off the bus and into the Children's Church classroom. "I'm nervous," she whispered, as she helped get the children situated.
"Don't be. You're gonna do just fine. I'm so excited you've agreed to be my helper. The Lord's gonna use your gifts in a mighty way!
Tabitha opened her Bible and wrote the Scripture memory verse on the blackboard for Miss Gloria. "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." John 10:10
She pondered the words. "Oh, Jesus, I do. Thank You for Miss Gloria and the bus ministry. Thank You that we're safe living at her place. You've given me abundantly. Now help me to serve You."
Gazing at her new helper, Miss Gloria prayed, "Dear Jesus, thank You for the bus ministry. Thank You for my new family. Thank You that they're safe now. Help us all to use the gifts You've given us for Your glory. In Your name I pray. Amen."
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