This is Pastor Tim’s article which appeared in the Evening Leader on Monday, June 14, 2021.
Over the course of last week, I had an experience of what I will describe as glorious chaos. Wayne Street had their Vacation Bible School, which is known to we seasoned veterans as VBS. Our VBS theme this year was Mystery Island.
VBS took on a whole new meaning this year in that this is the first big event we have been able to hold at Wayne Street since the pandemic. We had 45-60 kids each evening coming in for two hours of games, snacks, lessons, crafts, mission, and of course singing. It was quite an event.
I was assigned to lead games, which I did to various levels of success all week. It seemed like the loudest, most destructive games were most popular. They isolated games on the third floor and any of you who have ever been on the third floor at Wayne Street know why they did that. There is no way to damage anything up there. That location is usually reserved for our youth group, but all of the furniture and tables up there could be completely destroyed and the church would be out about $9.
I had the kids running around to see who would get out, and we played paper rock scissors in the most complicated tournament ever conceived. In fact, it was so complicated that I changed the rules every round and the kids were so confused no one argued with me. The younger kids had fun with a parachute and launching stuffed animals to the ceiling. We had a particular clown fish named Nemo that earned a lot of frequent flier miles.
Once the games had run their course, I also got to serve the snacks. This is the only time they held still long enough for me to actually talk to them and find out what they were learning at the other stations. They learned the stories of the Apostle Paul, Jonah and the whale, the prophet Isaiah, and Jesus.
Yes, VBS is a wonderfully chaotic time, but there is more going on than just having fun. What we are working on is making sure that these stories are preserved for future generations. I can’t say I remember any of the lessons I had when I was in VBS, but I certainly remember the experience of being there; the adult workers who put in so much effort to provide the experiences for me, and my mom taking me there and usually staying to help in some way just to name a few. I may not remember the content of what was taught, but I vividly remember the experience of being there. I am sure that VBS was led by an exhausted leader then just like today, but it was those experiences like VBS that helped shape me into the man I am today. Given my career choice, it is difficult to see how anyone could have been more affected by what happens at VBS than me.
So it is entirely possible that the kid running around not paying attention or the kid who cries the whole night or the kid who spills his juice all over the place will also be the kid with the fondest memories of the week. 40 years ago, that was me. Many of the people who made VBS a reality back in the early 1980s have gone home to be with Jesus, but the legacy of what they invested is still paying dividends today. I am living proof that is true.
I understand how exhausting and seemingly unrewarding it is to invest in a future generation. I face that prospect every day. It is so easy to get discouraged when it seems like kids aren’t paying attention or are just there because it is fun. It’s hard to know what the kids are retaining. I am sure that all of the work the teachers put into teaching me as a little kid, they never thought I would end up remembering or appreciating any of it. Well, I am writing this article to thank all of those workers who put in so much prep work to make sure I knew where I belonged.
Their investment in me all those years ago helped provide that same welcome to over 50 kids a night all last week.