This past week, about 25 children came to Vacation Bible School. Four churches, whose children’s programs are struggling and whose numbers are few, came together to try and teach and show and share the love of Christ. To give more details: twenty-five loud, happy, whiny, excited children, sang lovely songs, made beautiful crafts (can you remember the VBS leather craft smell?), and heard several passages from the Bible that spoke about giving to and caring for one’s neighbors.
We found that one answer of "Who is our neighbor?" included people we will never meet or see and who might live thousands of miles away. And so, we collected enough quarters to buy two goats and a flock of chickens for the Heifer Project, about $260.
Another answer to the question included those people who we might not know but who we might see in our city. So, we put together Manna bags—gallon-sized plastic bags filled with food items, a water bottle, bandages, napkins, and a spoon. Each of the children took two bags so that they could personally give them to hungry people. They also made cross necklaces and either wrote a note or drew a picture to include in the bags, along with the other items.
On his note-card, one child lovingly wrote, “God loves you. Have a happy heart.”
The kids sang these words during music time:
Jesus' hands were kind hands, doing good for all, healing pain and sickness, blessing children small, washing tired feet, and saving those who fall; Jesus' hands were kind hands, doing good to all.
Take my hands, Lord Jesus, let them work for you; make them strong and gentle, kind in all I do. Let me watch you, Jesus, till I'm gentle too, till my hands are kind hands, quick to work for you.
They ate kid-snacks. The adults secretly ate a few goldfish and fruit snacks. Some children were hungry and so they ate and then built cheese cracker towers with their leftovers. Some children were HUNGRY and so they ate and then they ate some more.
Three girls from my youth group gave piggy-back rides, wiped tears, picked up three million beads, crawled around on the floor with Vaseline and cotton balls on their noses, gave immediately-needed hugs, and sang along with the children, “Jesus’ hands were kind hands, doing good for all.”
Observations and Conclusions:
Monday through Friday, I woke up with bags under my eyes that no makeup could conceal.
Monday afternoon, I rejoiced in the success of the first VBS day. Our goal for the week was to buy just one goat, but we were well on our way the first day to being able to buy that one goat.
Monday evening, I went to sleep singing, “Get on board, little children, there’s room for plenty-a-more.”
Tuesday, the children wore their freshly-made, self-made, blue t-shirts, with a screen image of the Good Samaritan surrounded by the words, “Love Your Neighbor.”
Tuesday evening, as we watched the evening news, I covered my child’s eyes as footage from the crisis in Syria came onto the screen.
Wednesday morning, I skipped through the halls with my daughter at her preschool. We smiled and giggled the whole way.
Wednesday afternoon, I saw a man digging through a trash can, chewing something he'd already found.
Wednesday evening, I watched streaming media coverage of masses standing inside, outside, and upside-down at a fast-food establishment.
Thursday morning, I saw a picture on the internet that implied the rights of the second amendment included ownership of assault rifles.
Thursday afternoon, at the end of VBS day, I found one of the children sheepishly eating a cup of applesauce that previously resided in a Manna bag.
Thursday afternoon, I read an article about more masses gathering outside a fast-food establishment.
Friday morning, one child who said the word "hate" more than any 4-year-old should say the word, "crowned" his VBS teacher with a crown he made, declaring, "You're my princess for the day."
Friday, my child tipped over backward in a chair and busted her lip. Another child came up to us and said, “I heard her crying and hoped she wasn’t bleeding. Is she okay now?”
Friday afternoon, I sat on the floor of the chapel, my child in my lap, and we listened to 25 children and 3 youth sing, “Let me watch you Jesus, till I’m gentle too, till my hands are kind hands, quick to work for you.”
Read more from Stephanie Little Coyne at her blog.