ShoeBus: ACTIVATED

Have you ever thought about how much of your life you have spent on a bus? Whether positive or negative, I’d wager you can conjure the memory of how your life intersects with bus excursions.

Allow me to attempt to redeem the bus experience (if applicable) with the announcement that Because International’s “ShoeBus” is ACTIVATED— and just debuted at Nazarene Youth Conference in Phoenix with 8000+ participants (along with ShoeBox).

Before I officially introduce you to the ShoeBus, I want to make sure you know I have some bus-baggage “cred” so here are a few of my stories:

  • Mission trip buses are notorious, right? But have you ever gone through FOUR buses in ONE trip in the outback of Northwestern Australia? I know a bloke (and 21 other people who have). #therapies

  • Then there’s the time I spent the night at a youth camp in the mountains on a bus with a broken window when the temp dropped below freezing, which was great because we were leading a poverty simulation. That’s quite literally the closest my youth ministry mentor (Mike Kipp) and I have ever been. #bodyheatcansavealife

  • One time I “borrowed” a 1974 Volkswagen bus for a student leader to paint for an anti-meth project competition but it got vandalized with a smashed window, and I returned it to the owner with a penance of compensation funds. (Thanks, and again, sorry, Scott;) #NotEvenOnce

  • Houston 2003 Nazarene Youth Conference - I was the District Youth “Ministry with Others” coordinator and absentmindedly had two FULL buses unload at the wrong hotel. #prehashtag

  • What about forgetting the speaker for your retreat at a rest stop and not realizing until 45 minutes later down the road? When Mickey came out of the restroom, the bus was just pulling away and he ran after it. But he came in clutch by hitching a ride. #improvise

Okay. Enough of my therapeutic processing. Please allow me to introduce you to a next-level endeavor for promoting practical compassion (cue drum roll...clear throat):

What is ShoeBus?

An innovative walk-up and walk-through storytelling experience inside a modified 1991 school bus. Yep. And it’s quite roadworthy, thank-you-very-much. (Minus the AriCon ;) Our ShoeBus team (Thank you TeamMac and Schandorsfs!) braved the roads from Nampa, ID to Phoenix, AZ and back. That’s 2000+ miles in July. And it’s just like you are imagining but COMPLETELY different.

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We are hoping ShoeBus will provide an innovative way for participants of all ages to engage with the Because journey from Products, to Production, and through Pursuit.

ShoeBus draws you in with a creative innovation timeline hand-painted across the lower half of each side by university students and young adults. You quickly realize this is not your run of the mill bus. As you enter the first section of the ShoeBus, you are invited to a bench seat and to remove your shoes with the challenge to go barefoot for the duration of the walk-through. Then you watch a video on how our founder Kenton Lee was first inspired with the idea for The Shoe That Grows (TSTG) and how it has progressed as an innovative product. We hope you are compelled to think about what small innovative changes you can contribute toward making a big difference in your community and then the world to combat poverty.

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The second section of the ShoeBus focuses on the production of TSTG. A workbench laden with dismantled shoes awaits your hands becoming a part of the production process. Vinyl imagery lines the inside of the ShoeBus windows with pictures and factoids regarding the manufacturing of TSTG and distribution. Posted instructions invite you to re-assemble samples of TSTG. Reflection on the shoe's manufacturing, the jobs it creates, and its distribution through short-term mission trips is key. We are preparing you for the last section of ShoeBus.

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Is there a more practical way to engage imagination than by offering an exit out the back of the bus by SLIDE? That’s right. To progress to the Pursuit section of ShoeBus, you slip into the memory of your childhood, where no limits can hold you back from accomplishing any dream, as you slide on your bum to ground level.

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Greeted by our Innovation Board at the bottom, you finish two tasks to complete your ShoeBus journey. First, write a take-away from the experience on our up-cycled Because cardboard. Second, share an idea on the Innovation Board that springs from your heart to your head in which poverty is overcome via innovation. The next step is to go and live out practical compassion with fervor.

While you could have interacted with each of these sections separately outside the bus in the walk-up experience, there would have been one thing you would have been missing: The elementary GLORY that is “ShoeBus.”

Buses in our North American contexts are most commonly used for transporting kids to school so they have opportunities to build a future. ShoeBus offers you the chance to see how great kids around the world receive The Shoe That Grows so they can also have the opportunity to go to school and work toward their future! You then get to dream like a kid in a familiar yet inspiring environment, and maybe even redeem your memory of the wheeled, informal institution we know as “school bus”, while transporting your imagination to a posture of innovation with ShoeBus!

P.S. Since we are just announcing ShoeBus is it too soon to let you know that a multi-week ShoeBus tour of the Northwest U.S.A. will commence in the summer of 2020? An intrepid team of young adult teammates with team parents will take the ShoeBus on the road!

Now before you get too excited thinking this is a political campaign tour, you need to know...you are right!

We are on a campaign to politically align with God’s kingdom mission alongside the churches who have partnered with us. Specifically churches who have partnered with Because for VBS or ShoeBox to practice practical compassion where they live and where they may go.

Applications for young adult team members will open in September 2019. Stay tuned! #ShoeBus2020

Kenny Wade
Church Suite Manager
kenny@becauseinternational.org