Today was our next to the last day of Vacation Bible School. I was sitting in the back of the Primary Class during their Bible memory work today - and noticed that some of the children looked as tired as the staff.
Early morning preparations, registration, refreshments, singing, games, lessons, handwork, crafts, memory work, record keeping, puppets and cleaning up - it wears everyone out by the end of the week. Besides that there is all the work of organizing and decorating and preparing and practicing beforehand. Then there is all the work of cleaning up and sorting out and packing up and moving furniture after VBS is over.
Lola and I have done VBS every year since I've been in ministry (1987.) Why do we do it? It is always the hottest week of the year. The kids always present some challenges. The materials are expensive. It takes a lot of work.
So why do we do it?
One of my earliest memories is a long line of kids standing in the bright sunshine and singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" as we marched into the People's Baptist Church in Albany, New York. I must have been three or four at the time. I am sure that VBS influenced my understanding of the gospel. It wasn't long after that I came to understand that I was a sinner and I needed the salvation that Jesus Christ alone could offer.
The second most significant point in my life came at a VBS at Bible Baptist Church in Mt. Vision, New York when I was 15. The missionary speaker for that week was Chic Watkins - a missionary aviator from Liberia. I don't remember too much of the week (beyond the baby chimp and the pigmy hippo.) But the final night Chic Watkins gave an invitation/challenge to complete surrender of your life to God - and God gripped my heart. I responded to that invitation - and that's how I ultimately ended up in ministry.
Why do we do VBS?
Because it is a chance to reach out to kids with the Gospel of God's grace and urge them to put their faith in Jesus Christ. It is a chance to build bridges into families in the community. It is another way to give God glory and to teach His word to people who so desperately need to know Him on His terms.
It is hard work and hot. The results are not usually dramatic in the short run. But it is the right thing to do - and God is glorified! It is our privilege to be a part of the program.