There is an annual summer event that Janet and I really look forward to getting involved with. It is the annual Vacation Bible School that is put on by Zionsville Presbyterian Church where our oldest daughter, Kristin, is on staff – and has been for about fifteen years now. In fact, one of Kristin’s areas of responsibility is to oversee the annual VBS program and in a show of family support, Janet and I, as well as many other members of our family, have volunteered our help during the week for a number of years now.
When Janet and I attended VBS as children, we both went to Salem Baptist Church for the summer program even though throughout the year, we were members of Trinity Methodist Church. Neither of us recall that our home church had a VBS program and since Salem was so close to us, it was a two block walk from home for my brothers and me to get to Bible school on time.
We still remember many of the songs that we sang and even some of the lessons that we learned. But it was nothing like the programs today. Today, there are themes each year, various rotations that the children go through each evening – and then sing-a-long times at the beginning and end of each evening.
Aside from the curriculum, the kids also raise money for a worthy cause somewhere else in the world. This summer, we raised money for purchasing alpacas in Ecuador. The kids and their families brought in a little more than $3000 that resulted in the purchase of 301 animals to help those less fortunate.
Today was VBS Sunday. There was the traditional recap highlighting certain events of the week and a recognition of the volunteers who helped this past week. In fact, we all wore our Rocky Railroad tee shirts that identified us throughout the week as volunteers. The kids came in and sang some of the numbers they had learned during the week and gave the congregation a glimpse of what they had learned for the five nights they attended VBS.
The theme of this week was wrapped around the idea that the power of Jesus will pull us through so we are to trust Jesus. The songs, ministry areas, stories and dramas all reinforced this theme for the children. This faith filled adventure included the following themes throughout the week: Jesus’s power helps us do hard things, Jesus’s power gives us hope, Jesus’s power helps us be bold, Jesus’s power lets us live forever and Jesus’s power helps us be good friends. We had some really young kids attend and anyone up through 4th grade as able to participate. The central imagery was built around a railroad, signifying strength and how Jesus can always pull us through.
Clearly, it is important that we impart these important attributes of Jesus, and God, to our littlest people. There is tremendous evidence that younger people stay more committed to the faith when their education is centered around programs such as VBS.
Janet and I were actively involved in the security team again this year. It is important that we create a safe environment for the children and that strangers are not allowed in the building. We have an entire protocol that includes screening parents each time they enter the building for either drop off or pick up of their children. Of course, security also includes taking care of sick or injured kids as well as the distribution of tee shirts and other paraphernalia that is part of the curriculum. In our world today, you can’t be too careful protecting our youth!
Our verse for tonight is from the Proverbs. We know how important children are to God. In fact, Jesus wanted the little children to come to Him. We encourage that each year in VBS. But we also train them to depend on Jesus throughout their lives. We are told, in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
This is our fondest hope. My encouragement this evening is that our kids will have a personal relationship with Jesus. My prayer is that next year, things will be back to normal and we will have record numbers of children wanting to learn about an eternal life with Jesus. And that kids throughout the world will benefit from the mission activities that we undertake, in the name of our children, to bless those less fortunate than we are. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…