I have a confession to make. There wasn’t a carrot in existence that could have lured me into Vacation Bible School after the age of seven. One bad experience proved to be all it took to sour me on the idea, and that experience took place during recreation time.
I can still picture my teacher standing in the middle of our group with fruit punch splattered down the front of her crisp white blouse and a shocked expression on her face. Next thing I remember is being tugged into the pastor’s office, a serious room lined with book shelves from ceiling to floor, a large picture window mostly covered by heavy curtains, and a hard wood chair built for someone a lot taller than me.
“You shouldn’t have pushed your classmate into Miss Robin,” the pastor said, looking me straight in the eye. “Now you’ve permanently stained her blouse.” A long, agonizing pause ensued, and then he finished our one-way conversation by asking, “What do you have to say for yourself?”
I could feel the tension in my stomach and the weakness in my knees. Even if I had wanted to talk, I don’t think any words could have escaped my mouth, at least none that made sense. Although I was innocent—I wasn’t even near Miss Robin when the juice went flying through the air—I just sat there mute.
I guess he felt the trip to his office had worked some remedial correction in my behavior because I was dismissed back to my class. A rough and tumble boy probably would have survived this kind of reprimand unscathed, but I was made of different stuff. In fact, that day lived in my mind right up to adulthood and resurfaced the first time I was asked to teach VBS as a young adult. My stomach tightened and my knees went weak.
I’m a lot older now and the mention of VBS conjures up very different memories for me as summer comes around. I love teaching the children that come from our diverse city to take part in this summer ritual filled with songs, crafts, and most importantly Bible stories pointing to the good news of the Savior that God provided for sinners (like me). I truly believe the children treasure this week as well. J.C. Ryle once said that no interest should weigh on us more than our children’s eternal interest.
Every year our VBS has a mission focus for which an offering is collected each day. This year our church graciously chose us as the recipients (going towards our support as part of the Prague church plant team), so on Monday morning during the opening assembly, we spoke about the work we will be doing in Prague, especially with children.
It’s difficult to write this without getting teary eyed because the children have responded so passionately to our message. Every day I have had children walk up to me, open their hands, and show me their offering for that day. They don’t necessarily say anything; they just look up into my eyes. Can you imagine what is going on in my heart at that moment?
But there’s more. Later in the morning, our class combines with another class for craft time. Since there are craft instructors, the teachers just assist the children when needed. Each day one little girl from the other class comes up to me with a picture she has colored and tells me she made it for the children in Prague. Amazing! This is hours after the opening assembly with many distractions in between, and yet she remembers the children in Prague and wants to do something kind for them.
I immediately think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 18, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” These children’s kind and generous actions have spoken deeply to my heart this week. How I desire to live with open hands of love and generosity towards others just as these little ones have done towards me during VBS.
May God keep us faithful in training our children for Christ and for eternity.
[The feature picture at the top was taken yesterday after our lesson on the raising of Lazarus. The children covered their faces with the masks whenever they heard a statement that was true about our Bible story. They were great listeners and answered correctly every time!]