I am tired. This year’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) at our church is officially over.
The week of VBS is a tough week for me as a pastor. After three hours of hanging out with energetic, exuberant children all morning, I need a nap in the afternoon. Then, with what’s left of the day, I have to squeeze in my normal visits and sermon preparation.
VBS week is stressful. It used to be so simple, but now we’ve got videos and music, scenery and skits to prepare. Trying to find helpers and volunteers is a headache because everybody is so busy. Schedules in the summer quickly get filled with vacations and camps, conferences and work.
Kids, on the other hand, aren’t so hard to find. Sometimes it seems like parents are just looking for free babysitting. The first couple of days, the kids behave pretty well. By Friday, however, they are restless and wild. Sadly, the teenage and pre-teen helpers sometimes are worse than the kids. By the end of the week, the adult helpers and teachers are tired and frazzled.
Just about every year, someone ends up tears. Sometimes that person is me. There are days when I wonder if VBS is even worth it…
But then we sing a song like we sang this week. The words were simple. Over and over again we sang, “Jesus loves me.” One of our volunteers suggested that I walk around during the song and tell the children by name that Jesus loved them. So while they sang the refrain, I wandered through the sanctuary, telling the children one by one, “Jesus loves Thornton” and “Jesus loves Jaxon” and “Jesus loves Isabella.”
I ended up being the one in tears this year.
Then I noticed the five year old boy who lost all his brothers and sisters in a fire a couple of years ago. I saw him smiling as he learned about Jesus and heaven.
Then I saw some of our teenage young men quietly sitting down with the smallest children, helping and encouraging them. I saw the joy on the children’s faces this week as they worshiped their Savior and heard the good news of his love. I heard one of them say, “I went home yesterday and told my dad Jesus loves him.”
Then I remembered that, for some of these children, VBS is the only connection they have to God and his Word throughout the year. I remembered that VBS creates a positive image of church which will stay with these children the rest of their lives.
This week, the seed of the gospel was planted and watered in the hearts of over sixty children at our tiny, little church in our tiny, little town. What effect will it have on their lives? Will there be children in heaven because of the Word they heard this week? Only God knows.
As I write these words, I am tired, worn out and a little frazzled. After a long, hard week, I have just one thing to say: Thank God for Vacation Bible School.