Once upon a time, there was a little boy who was looking for something to do during the steaming hot days of July. He’d been out of school for more than a month. He’d already worn ruts in the grass – while riding his bicycle around in the yard. He’d spent hours in the woods digging in the dirt, and had been shooting at chipmunks with a bow and arrow made of sticks and a rubber band for weeks. Time passed slowly. And the beginning of school was more than a month away.
And then, one morning, the little boy’s mother got him out of bed and took him to the church. The church was decorated with long, colorful streamers that moved every time the electric fans swished past them; and there were rocks made of brown, crumbled paper on the floor. Little kids were running everywhere, and the energy was incredible! Grown-ups tried their hardest to split the kids by age groups and they pinned a colorful name tag to each child’s chest. And then, the singing began. Some lessons were taught. The floors of the church were littered with little pieces of paper as children went to work with scissors and glue. And, of course, there was a snack. Cookies. Cookies with bright red Kool Aid! Everybody knows that energized kids who are bouncing off the walls need more sugar. Right?
And at the end of the week, every child who had come to the church every day got a copy of the Good News Bible. And the little boy was so excited! He took his Bible home and put it on the table beside his bed. And he read stories from the Bible every day. The edges of the pages became dirty as time passed and the binding on the Bible became loose. But the little boy kept reading from the Bible every day. And as he grew into a teenager, he kept that Bible close at hand. And in the already-worn pages of the Bible, he came to know a man named Jesus who lived and died and rose again. And some of it made sense, and some of it didn’t. But that was OK.
Many people don’t realize how important a week of Vacation Bible School can be in the life of a child. It’s not easy for parents to pack-up their kids in the middle of the summer and drag them to the church. It’s not easy for a too-small army of volunteers to keep an eye on the children – while singing songs – and teaching lessons – and playing games – and washing hands – and completing a craft – and serving a snack in the basement of a church on hot summer days. It takes time to hang those long, colorful streamers and to make those paper rocks. It takes time to make the name-tags, and to register all the kids, and to keep the kids safe. Someone always cuts their finger and needs a band-aid to make things better. Someone won’t like the snack. Someone won’t sit down during the lesson, and a parent or two may need to be called because someone gets homesick. That’s Vacation Bible School in a nutshell, isn’t it?
Back to the little boy….
Placing a Bible in the hands of little boy can do great things! A little boy can learn about the God who loves him when he reads what the Bible says. He wonders about things that some kids never think about. He asks questions. And, as the years continue to pass, seeds that were planted begin to grow. And little boys grow into men. And sometimes, those men grow into pastors who devote their lives to teaching others about the God that they’ve come to know and love. Some of those men – like me – grow into men who want people to know about Jesus, too. And the story of God’s love and embrace gets passed to another generation!
And sometimes it begins with a week of Vacation Bible School. Sometimes, it begins when a small army of volunteers make long and colorful streamers that sway when an electric fan blows past them; make rocks from crumbled paper bags, put a band-aids on fingers; and place Good News Bibles in the hands of little children. Sometimes, it all begins when a small army of God’s people commit themselves to opening their hearts and to opening the doors of their building, so that little kids can hear the story of God’s love.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:19-20