There’s something about Vacation Bible School that screams “What were you thinking?!?” No, I’m not talking about those of you who have the wisdom to do the dump and run method of child delivery to aforementioned VBS, I’m talking about those of us who find themselves filled with the all consuming desire to “lend a hand.” That’s in quotation marks because, inevitably, your other hand, both feet, and all your spouse’s appendages get tossed into the ring as well.
I must admit, though, that I love seeing our church filled with the little monsters. Right now the entire building is decked out in African Serengeti theme. Some of you may remember this particular VBS from several years ago. My church does all its shopping in the bargain basement, looking for last year’s styles, be it VBS, Christmas program, sometimes the cookies after service.
I didn’t grow up a Christian. Jesus was a swear word in my house. So I never attended VBS, though I think my parents missed out on a golden opportunity to be rid of me for a few hours a day. So when I gave my heart and the rest of me to Jesus on a June evening nine years ago, VBS was one of the first ministries I got involved in at my new church. It wasn’t that first year, but I think the very next, when I was more or less just a gopher, that I was helping corral some of the pre-K children outside in our little playground. It had a fence around it and one little girl stood on the outside looking in at the other children. I watched one of the teachers walk over and say something to her. She just shook her little blond head and continued to stare.
We do strange things sometimes without putting much thought into it. I think that’s when we get our best results. I walked over to the little girl from the inside and started talking to her. I asked her about the zoo, what her favorite animals were. It was the monkeys, of course, so I said maybe we were the monkeys on the inside and she was watching us. So I acted like a monkey. She laughed. I asked her if she’d rather be a monkey, it was so much more fun. She nodded. I walked around and opened the gate for her and she joined the other kids, earning me a thumbs up from the teacher.
I didn’t talk to her much the entire week, but on the last night of VBS I was standing by the sanctuary doors as the kids were being walked out by their parents. That little girl walked by, her hand in her mother’s, and suddenly pulled free. She whirled around and launched into me with a hug much bigger than her little body should have been capable of producing.
I don’t know if I ever saw her again. All these little faces get jumbled together, and I’m not much for remembering people anyway. But I wonder if that little girl, by now a teenager, ever knew how much she ministered to that new Christian’s heart. I’ve had similar experiences since then, but I’ll always remember the first.
And that’s why I’m always willing to lend a hand.