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Looking back at Vacation Bible School 2012comment (0)

August 23, 2012

By Al Earnest

The most exciting activity of the summer for many children is Vacation Bible School (VBS). It is also the most dreaded time for those responsible for enlisting volunteer administrators, teachers and workers to assist in crafts, recreation and other areas.

Soon after assuming the position the VBS director races to the children’s and preschool departments. In efforts to fill all positions she asks, begs and finally twists arms of teachers in these areas before getting reluctant volunteers to engage in VBS. Still having slots to be filled she pleads through the church newsletter and in worship services for helpers. She is terrified each time her phone rings — afraid someone is resigning even before VBS has started or the material has been given to the teachers. 

VBS often begins with minimum staff. When workers are few the work is more burdensome, and getting repeat leaders for the next year becomes impossible.

As an adult I contributed little to VBS. I prayed each year for success and for the salvation of those attending. My only personal involvement was dressing as a Bible character once and telling his story as requested by a VBS teacher.

VBS 2012 at Southside Baptist Church, Andalusia, changed me forever.

In September 2011, as I prepared to teach my adult Sunday School lesson on spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit breathed the following into my being: “What would happen if every member of your class used his or her spiritual gifts in VBS 2012?” This was a full ten months before the next VBS. I presented this to the class during that lesson and reminded them of the challenge several times before the VBS director began recruiting staff.

When the associational VBS clinic was announced I again challenged the class and urged them to attend. Upon arriving at the clinic I discovered I was the only class member present. I was grieved and disappointed.

For me, giving up was not an option. Two weeks before VBS I wrote on the classroom marker board, “VBS 2012. Are you involved? If not, why not?” For two Sundays I attempted to get members to volunteer. Finally, the last week before VBS one lone member promised to assist me a night or two in teaching the fifth grade and another member volunteered to decorate the classroom. 

The first night of VBS I was surprised and elated to have four of my class members come into my room just before starting time. They returned each night. In addition one class member helped in first grade, two helped with refreshments, four attended Adult VBS, and one photographed all events and prepared a presentation for family night. Counting me that was a total of 13 members out of a class averaging 18 to 20 each Sunday.

I taught the first three lessons and then asked Ernie, one of my helpers, to prepare and teach the fourth lesson on the ABCs of salvation. He took the teacher’s book, went to a corner of the room and began to pray and study the material. He had never taught children before.

When the fifth-graders returned from their missions activity on night four Ernie got down on his knees in front of them. He explained the lesson with great compassion. He then gave a time for response and questions. He invited them to ask Jesus to be their Savior. The kids received Ernie and the salvation lesson well, but most if not all of them were already Christians. We didn’t have a salvation decision.

The final night of VBS I asked Ernie if he would again go over the ABCs of salvation with the kids. This time he played the devil’s advocate. A fifth-grader took him on with the following dialogue:

Ernie: “What does the A in the ABCs of salvation stand for?”

Fifth-grader: “It stands for admit.”

Ernie: “What should I admit?”

Fifth-grader: “Admit that you are a sinner.”

Ernie: “But I’m a good guy. I don’t do anything really bad.”

Fifth-grader: “It doesn’t matter how good you are. If you ever lied, stole or disobeyed your parents you have sinned. You are a sinner. We are all sinners and we must admit this before Jesus will save us.”

The dialogue continued through the B and C of salvation. It was evident the fifth-graders learned the lesson well.

The weekend following VBS was exciting for our class and other adult classes throughout the church. Many of these classes plan to be more involved in VBS next year. The VBS director gave special thanks for what our class did. The encouragement she received from our involvement made her look forward to VBS 2013 more than she had any other year. We were all blessed through the children. The group concluded that next year would find them helping in VBS in any way they can. We all left the room praising God for allowing us to be used for His glory.

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