God calls us to teach the little (and not so little) children, we all know that. But does VBS really make a difference? Is it worth all the work, stress, and hassle? We learn the theme a year in advance, pray and plan for months, ask for volunteers (some end up less voluntary than others), gather what amounts to several recycling bins of “fun craft” items. Later we’ll bake dozens of cookies and pass out flyers. The list goes on and on.
Most of the children who come have some kind of Christian background—how many will hear of the love of Christ only at VBS? It does matter! Jesus would have died on the cross even if it was only my sins He was suffering for. The least we can do is hold VBS, praying that God will touch the heart of a child through VBS and the seeds of salvation will be planted in their lives there.
Our theme for the year was “Your mission, should you choose to accept it.” I had been excited about this theme since I first heard it. Last year I had taught a class that had twenty-nine to thirty-three little, squirming bodies, and I have the same class again this year. I knew they would love the theme—especially since the class was almost three-quarters boys. Monday morning I came overflowing with enthusiasm—until we began the opening session in the sanctuary. There was a new boy in my class who didn’t want to cooperate; he proclaimed everything was “stupid”: the songs were “stupid,” the skit was “stupid,” the other boys and girls were “stupid.” It wasn’t twenty minutes into the first day and already I was thinking, “Your mission will self-destruct in 5, 4, 3, 2 . . .” Where did all my excitement go? How could I lose the focus of my calling so quickly? “Please, God, give me insight, patience, encouragement,” I prayed.
Our next stop was the fellowship hall for cookies. A young boy who came to our VBS last year, whom I know to be unchurched except for the week(s) he spends at VBS, came up to me and energetically said, “If I could travel in time I would go to ‘Odd and Even.’” Now, because my youngest is twenty and I’m not up on what the kids are into today, I asked if that was a TV show or movie. “No, you know—when they lived in the garden and there wasn’t any weeds . . .” Now I get it: “You mean the garden of Eden?” I asked. “YEAH,” he said, “and if I had a time machine, I would go back there and say, ‘Dooooon’t do it!!’” He not only heard what was taught last year, but he remembered it! And that, my friends, is why we do VBS.
Oh, yes, by the end of the week my “challenging” boy was saving a seat next to him for me. I do find VBS to be fun, challenging, and rewarding. I look forward to it every year. I ask you to pray about how God may want to use you next summer. If you can’t be there physically during the week, you can still help prepare for VBS, and you can always be a prayer warrior, which is every bit as important.
Mrs. Shelly Terpstraa member at Bethany URC, Wyoming, MI, has been involved with VBS for several years. She is the business manager for Reformed Fellowship.