In her tiny six-year-old voice, she bubbled over and shouted, “I love Vacation Bible School! It’s the best part of my whole year!” The other little girls chimed in with, “me too” as they flapped their hands in the air and twirled in circles to punctuate their joy. In the class next door, you could hear little boys screaming, “Bugs! Tigers! Monkeys!” It all meant the same thing. They love VBS.
An hour earlier, I stood in my kitchen and told my husband, “This is the last day I’ll ever help with VBS in my life. I’m worn slap out.” A week of hopping up and down off the floor and dancing to jungle music had taken its toll, so I finished my coffee and popped Tylenol in my mouth and headed out the door in the sweltering morning air. My husband called out, “you say that every year!” He was correct. The dancing and giggling little girls made me think, “I want to do this for 80 more years — if not more.”
I know every trick to making popsicle stick disciples and can close my eyes and make the ten commandments out of homemade clay while singing “Baby Moses was a basket case.”
From the time I was too old to attend Vacation Bible School, I became a teen helper, then a teacher. I’ve covered every aspect of the program in a half dozen churches, one foreign country, campgrounds, city parks and underneath a house on stilts in a remote coastal town. Friends from six different churches merged together at an apartment complex a few years ago to produce one of the most amazing Vacation Bible Schools I’ve ever experienced.
The simplicity of hearing the message that God loves you is soaked up by the children, and yet, hearing it again in this setting somehow refreshes even the most theologically sophisticated adult. Along with the children, the teens leading the games, popsicle moms, Dads dressed like cowboys and grandmothers passing out water bottles, all love hearing the stories again and again.
Often, new visitors hear about God’s love for the first time, and it may in fact, be the only time they ever hear about the bravery of David or Joseph’s colorful coat.
When these children, who have been scared to death by the pandemic and a volatile social climate, grow up to be our future leaders, I want to make sure they understand the concept of, “be ye kind, one to another —” among other things.
If we don’t captivate our children now, the world will surely pull them in later. In the years to come, I may only send cookies, cut out nametags or pass out craft supplies, but somehow, someway, I’ll always help with Vacation Bible School. With strong coffee and Tylenol, all things are possible.
This story first appeared in AL.com