Last week, Janet and I, along with our daughter, Jill, helped Kristin with vacation Bible School (VBS) for yet another summer. We are getting to be old hands at this and we are now at the point that we have developed friendships with other volunteers who serve. In fact, it has become a little community of people who get together each summer and even though it has been a year since we have worked together, we fall right into the rhythm of knowing the routine.
Kristin, who has been on staff at the church for more than 10 years, is in charge of putting the entire program together and I must say that it is more difficult than it looks. Each year has a theme, much like it did when we were kids, but things have become more sophisticated since then.
For starters, we used flannel boards and didn’t have all the computers, screens, presentation software and other technological advances we have today. In fact, it is remarkable to see the differences between then and now.
Kristin, her teammates, and a staff of volunteers work tirelessly for months before the five day event to make sure that everything is just right. Kristin loves being in the spot light and needless to say, there is always a wonderful part for her to engage with the children of all ages. We usually have a time in the beginning of each session when all the children sing songs and engage one another before going out into the various areas to study and learn about some facet of the ancient world. At the close of the night, we once again all get together in the sanctuary to end our evening together in song ad praise.
This year’s theme was about Paul and his dangerous journeys throughout the Roman empire. We had bazaars, marketplaces, adventure areas, games and learning opportunities. We even had signs up in Greek, teaching the kids various words and what they mean in one of the original languages. That’s where tonight’s title comes from – “teknia” is a Greek word that means young children.
But even the way the groups are routed throughout 5 nights of experience is much more complex than anything I ever attended way back in the dark ages. It would be next to impossible for anybody to get bored with the way that programs run these days, at least at Kristin’s church.
And the kids LOVE their time at VBS. There is always a cause that they support and this year, money was raised to help provide vitamins and nutrition for babies in third world countries. Starting with donated pennies on the first night, then nickels, dimes and quarters and dollars on successive nights, slightly more 220 kids raised over $5000 (with a little help from their parents.) With a goal of raising $10 to help each child, that means this group helped more than 500 children in remote areas of the world have a better change at a healthy life. Incredible…
Another wonderful part of this week is the fact that lifelong friendships are being created for our young children. They remember each other and even our daughter, Jill, who is moving here from Oklahoma, has been a volunteer for years now. And Andrew, our son, has also helped out when his work schedule allows. Janet and I are committed to helping and now we work security, ensuring that we have a safe environment for everybody to have a wonderful time, free from worry about random people causing any disruption during our time together.
Each evening starts with the volunteers and their families having dinner together. All the food is made by a wonderful group of folks who have the spiritual gift of hospitality and you couldn’t ask for a better dinner anywhere. It is a real treat and you can tell the level of pride that each team of VBS volunteers takes in their particular area of expertise. I am already looking forward to next year!
One of the greatest benefits is how the adults are spiritually changed by going through the week of volunteering together. To watch the children, and in our case, grandchildren, grow in their knowledge and love of the Lord is quite life altering. Our verse tonight confirms that it is important that we devote ourselves to the teaching of our youngest generations. We are told, in Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
My encouragement tonight is that God is thrilled when we teach others, especially our “teknia,” about the majesty of God and how He loves them. My prayer this evening is that, as we learned this week, nothing can separate us from the love of God. That is a very important message for young children; and for the rest of us! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…