For the last few years, Brad and I have had the honor of ministering to all the precious little hearts during our church’s annual Vacation Bible School. We absolutely love it, even though it makes for a busy week (and few weeks beforehand with prep and decorating, honestly).
The below post was originally written in 2015, after a great week of fun and ministry at our VBS. I like to revisit this one every year right before a new vacation Bible school begins, just to remind myself of why we put all the time, effort, and love into these quick few days each summer.
WHAT I LEARNED (or was reminded of) AT VBS
Our theme this year was “Thailand Trek,” which allowed the children to experience a different culture and learn about how God loves all of us, no matter where we live or what we look like.
Brad and I were in charge of teaching the preschool groups in their “Bible Adventure” sessions. If you know anything about 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds, you know that every day was a true “adventure” for us just keeping their attention and responding to those random questions and answers that children like to throw out. (Best, most random answer this week was when we were talking about the best gift that was ever given. I asked the kids what they thought it might be, and one little guy replied, “A mustache!” Haha. The actual answer is Jesus, by the way)
Having worked in children’s ministry in some way, shape, or form since junior high (It’s kind of my heart), and since I’m one of the regular Sunday school teachers for the preschool class, I did the actual teaching while my husband worked alongside me as my assistant. He’s wonderful that way, and he’s gotten pretty good at anticipating where I need him next. He’s my echo when I’m teaching a new verse or rhyme, he makes a great prop manager and effects guy, and he’s never embarrassed to be silly or goofy with the kids. Together, we make a rather good team.
At the end of each night of VBS, we gathered all the preschool groups into the main room for a closing session of a few songs and review while we waited for parents to arrive and pick up their children. I stayed near the front with the other preschool leaders, singing with the kids and greeting parents, and Brad was in the back of the room, running the sound.
The first three days went really, really well. While our days were a bit more hectic than usual, the joy of serving and seeing children respond to the love of God and the love of all the volunteers definitely made it beyond worth it.
The last night of Thailand Trek, our family had a half-hour before we needed to be out the door to get to church when Brad and I realized that Josiah was sick, mostly because he threw up all over himself, his bed, and Brad.
Knowing that I had to teach, Brad agreed to stay home with Josiah. I was sad leaving two of my guys behind and disappointed that they wouldn’t get to be there for the last day of VBS.
At the start of each class I let the kids know that “Mr. Brad” had to stay home because our littlest boy was sick, and for the most part they accepted it, and we continued on with our lesson. However, one little boy’s response was one of the best lessons of the week.
When he heard that Brad wasn’t there, his expression clouded with genuine concern, and he asked, “But who will do our music?”
I glanced to their group leaders, who had the same reaction that I did – we were surprised, encouraged, and humbled at the same time.
Realizing that this little boy noticed the person who ran the sound every evening for the final session in the noisy, chaotic preschool class, even though no one ever brought attention to that fact, reinforced to our hearts that every little thing we did to make this VBS happen, it mattered. It was important. And it was noticed and appreciated.
Looking at the group leaders who’d corralled as many as 10 energetic children from activity to activity four nights in a row, I hoped they knew that this time of pouring themselves out for these children wasn’t in vain. I thought about the ladies who faithfully ran the registration every day, keeping track of all the children who’d come through the doors, and those volunteers tucked away in the kitchens, plating hundreds of “Thai Treats” for hungry children who would never even see them. Imagining the mess our kids made of snacks and crafts, I know there were people coming in after all the children were on their way home or the next morning, straightening, tidying, and making things ready for the next onslaught of fun.
I was privileged to be a part of this giving team. A team who did whatever was asked of them to create a memorable week for so many children and show them God’s love in so many different ways.
There are a number of scriptures that come to mind at this point: “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me” (Mark 9:37), “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23), “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12), and “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 6:10).
One little guy reminded us that God saw and was blessed by everything we gave in His name – every hug, snack, helping hand, and silly act.
And the children, who we could barely get to sit still sometimes, were paying way more attention than we thought, too.
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