The following is a general overview of each day of VBS, some encouraging results, and thoughts as the week progressed. We praise God for all that he has accomplished to further the gospel in the hearts of these kids and in our hearts as we labored together for the cause of Christ!
Day 1 - 140 Kids
Walking through the classrooms I am utterly amazed at the creativity, cleverness, ingenuity, talent (to name a few) of the people who transformed classrooms into Arctic Wonderlands! I hope you all had a chance to walk around and see each others' classrooms… including the Pre-K classroom (in the 2’s room). I’m also blown away by the teaching, the using of examples, the crafting of analogies to make things understandable to young minds. And then… after the lesson is taught, it’s “all hands on deck” as all leaders and helpers gather around these youngsters guiding them, directing them, and interacting with them. It’s an incredible sight to behold! Our young people are so fortunate to have you. You are some of the most gifted and talented people I know! Praise God for this opportunity to pour your God-given talents into Kingdom work!
With such a great start we need to be on guard. You know the Scripture that talks about things being begun by the Spirit and being perfected by the flesh (Gal. 3:3). (I’m sorry to say I know all too well the truth of this Scripture.) We must continue to seek Him first in all we do, acknowledging Him in all our ways then allowing Him to direct our paths. Our VBS children are better served by servants of the most High who are totally yielded to their Savior.
Day 2 - 133 Kids
I wrote yesterday about the big picture, lots of what a VBS program is all about; the Teaching, the classrooms, the Counselors, etc. The Lord is at work in the little things as well, and He’s been so gracious to us. I hope we notice the little things. For instance: as I walked out to my car on set-up Sunday afternoon, I saw a Dad on the playground with his children so that his wife could ply her craft by decorating and setting up her room. I noticed a husband waiting for his wife with an already air-conditioned car because she’d been outside overheated by the sun and exhausted from ministering. I noticed the willingness of a young person to fill an emergency assignment because a Mom/Teacher was called away to care for her child with a broken ankle. It’s easy to notice the Lord in the big things. Yet I’m convinced that some of His best work goes on quietly, unnoticed, behind the scenes, working all things together for good. Indeed… His eye is on the sparrow.
Day 3 - 134 Kids
Some girls from Marian Park requested Bibles. How exciting!
What’s going on here? Seriously, what is happening in our lives on Galusha Ave this second week of June? I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling “carried.” Are you feeling “carried” and prayed for? Do your lessons just gel? Do your words just flow? Are you saying to yourself, “Where did that come from?” There are so many issues that arise, so many snags that develop yet I turn around and it’s worked out. And… wouldn’t you know… it worked together for good. I need to confess to you… and I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but… this week has never been about Vacation Bible School. This is not about the programs, the preparations, the lessons or the activities. (And you’ve been exemplary in your preparations, and programs, and lessons, etc.) This is all about being conformed to the image of Christ. There is a bigger picture here. We need our “invisible eyes.” There is an element of faith-stretching and grace-giving. There is an element of going the extra mile; an element of bringing a cup of cool water. The body, exercising their gifts in the spirit, is acting like… a body. A fully functioning body with ear, and mouth, and foot, etc. etc. all functioning together by the Spirit to enact this incredible movement of God. May the work that He has begun here, in us, be perfected both now and in the future… until the day of Christ Jesus.
Day 4 - 145 Kids
More children requested Bibles today. There are varying reports that anywhere from 5 to 7 Bibles were given out.
One Mom/Counselor came up to me this morning with tears in her eyes and spoke of a young girl, who just received her first Bible. A picture of that young girl, Bible open, head bowed, reading it, is permanently etched on this Mother’s mind. The girl had come to Christ earlier and wanted to read about her Savior. She didn’t even want to wait until she got home. Honestly… it choked me up, too. The Mom went on to say, “This is what it’s all about!” So true, this is what it’s all about. I came across a verse in my quiet time this week that I’d like to share with you. The verse, to me, depicts the heart of this Mom, and in fact, the heart of every of you who have so selflessly come to serve the Lord in this VBS ministry this week. Picture yourselves saying this verse… no, better yet, picture your heart communicating this verse to one of our VBS youngsters. who the Lord has brought through our doors. “Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.” (1 Thes. 2:8)
If you get a chance, thank Philip (London’s Dad) who owns the backyard entertainment company and is providing the bubble machine, the corn hole games, and the giant-jenga at our picnic free of charge. Thanks so much.
Day 5 - 145 Kids
To my beloved co-laborers,
Unbelievable!… the job you people did with VBS… you are amazing! You did exceeding abundantly beyond ALL that we could ask or think… according (and this is the important part) according to the Power that works within you. To God be the glory!
Here are some immediate results… we can only guess at the eternal results, yet in “that day” we will know fully just as we have been fully known.
One mother pulled me aside Friday morning and told me about her youngster telling her about his “invisible eyes.” This was said to her on Monday! The first day we taught this lesson!
Another mother wrote in an email: “…both of our kids went out of their way this afternoon to read the Bible on their OWN in addition to our family devotional time. (And yes, the Mom had OWN in all caps!) She goes on… “I was overwhelmed with the number of kids who asked for Bibles this week. I’ve worked with the… (grade level stated)… for the past 3 years and we’ve never had such a huge interest in God’s word as we did this week… I had a young boy ask me for a Bible this week. He said that he really wants to read it because it sounds like such an incredible book. This is a 5th grader, possibly even a 6th grade boy, who was talking so wonderfully about God’s word! It was overwhelming and wonderful. I have no idea what parts of this week really impacted him, but God used something! Praise God!” (Ed’s note: When I worked in the schools it was mainly with junior high school students, you know the ones where it’s not “cool” to have anything affect them. To have a 5th or even 6th grader be drawn to the Bible like that… like the Mom said, “It was overwhelming and wonderful!”)
When God’s spirit moves, like a whirlwind, we don’t know where it comes from or to where it is going. We only know that men are moved, (or boys and girls, or whoever) are moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God. Let’s be in prayer for the Lord of the harvest to fan the flicker of Light in these young children’s hearts, fan it into a blazing fire, living out a life of total commitment to His glory.
What did you learn about God? What did you learn about yourself? OK me first… When the Lord first convicted me to accept the offer to be in charge of VBS I knew this would be a faith-stretcher. I did a little bit of this event organization type of thing in the school business, but that was a long time ago. Besides, this was a spiritual calling. This was different. Those close to our family knew that my back went out two weeks before VBS started. In addition Leslie had a cold or flu or something that wouldn’t quit despite multiple medical visits. So with all my main supports gone, I felt like Uriah; out in front with every one and everything I’d counted on being pulled back. I truly had only the Lord to lean on. Isn’t it interesting the way the Lord places you in situations where He is the only One to rely on… and then he strongly supports those whose heart is completely His. And God showed up marvelously. He provided people in the gaps and provisions just at the right time. The testing of my faith surely produced endurance and more faith (faith upon faith) and more trust in the very author and perfecter of that faith. God is so good… to me, to all of us, and to the VBS ministry as we attempted to further His Kingdom work here on earth.
I’d love to hear from you. What did the Lord teach you about Himself? What did He teach you about yourself? Not only would it be great for me to hear this (I might pass these along), but it would probably be good for you to put it into words. Somehow that solidifies it.
And as we bring this final letter of our Vacation Bible School Week to a close, I just want to thank all of you for your diligent service to our most high God as we are forever being conformed to the image of His Son.
To God alone be the glory,
"One generation shall praise Thy works to another, and shall declare Thy mighty acts." Ps. 145:4