I will tell you how I became a Family Tent leader. While filling out the Vacation Bible School volunteer information I had no strong pressing desires to do one job over another. “God, place me wherever You want me. You will equip me.”
Several weeks later I arrived at the VBS Orientation Meeting rather excited to see where it was that God had placed me. I waited in line with other volunteers waiting to check in. We shuffled along as each volunteer received their assignment and required papers before sitting down and waiting for further instructions. Someone handed me a manila envelope labeled quite clearly “Family Tent”. Oh… my… goodness! They had placed me in an assignment that rather shook me at my core. They wanted me to know a new lesson for each day of the week well enough to teach a group of excited campers?!? (Can I put the entire sentence in italics and caps?) I had to read something!?! Didn’t they know it takes me a good four months to read one book? (People, don’t laugh at me. I’m serious.)
But as the lovely Lisa Larking began orientating us I began to get used to the idea. That wasn’t so scary. I only had to read maybe a page of material. And it’s not like I had to memorize it or anything. I could keep the cheat sheet handy. Plus, a costume? Oh yeah…. I could do this!
The different groups of volunteers were split up and I followed Shirly Sulzer into her office with the other Family Tent leaders to hear more about our assignment. She explained the great honor that came with this job. She told us we were picked, because she knew we were each capable of leading a child through the Prayer of Salvation and knew how to teach one story to many different grades. Oh… my… goodness! If I was a woman with a weak stomach this is about the time I would have passed out. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it. It was the fact that there had been thought about and a prayer for God’s Will to be done and they had been led to put me in that position! My heart presses heavy within me even as I write it!
But my job as Family Tent leader is no more important than any other assignment. Working VBS and seeing it run has been great blessing to me. I drop off Simon in his nursery class and am so grateful for the two workers who don’t mind playing with six two-year olds in one room for three hours straight. I am thankful for the registration people that keep close tabs on the children and their whereabouts. I admire the people assigned to craft tents as they have to teach one craft to group after group of children for five days. I love the act of Food as the women actively serve the children’s physical needs with a light refreshment. I am grateful for the Family Leaders who guide a whole mess of distract-able children from station to station. They don’t seem to get feathers ruffled when a certain four year old is hugging a certain little boy until they both fall on the floor. There is one incredibly young youth leader that goes through my tent each day and I have to stop myself from staring at her as she teaches with great ability and grace. I want to pull her aside one day and ask, “How were you raised? Whatever your parents did I have to do it too, because you are a gem!”
We are a all pieces of a whole that work together to show children the love of God.
And let me tell you, these children are getting it! There’s something different about Vacation Bible School. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked children in Sunday School what their prayer requests were or a time they needed to know God loves them and a twenty-minute long discussion ensues about who has the biggest bruise or whose sibling bumped their head that morning. (I’m not kidding.)
Yesterday the lesson was from 1 Peter 5:7, which says “Cast all your worries and cares to God, because He cares about you.
The object lesson was to write their worries on plastic balls and then cast them to the “LORD” – a small wicker basket. I was expecting to have a basket of balls labeled with each child’s ailment. However, what I heard yesterday only increased my deep love for the children and I have an even greater desire to see them come to a real and active and living salvation!
Children as small as 1st grade were worried about parents fighting, earthquakes, cousins that lived in Tornado Alley, and salvation for family members on their death bed. There were pets that were getting older. A couple of the children were scared about dying or having a family member pass away. The third graders were worried about 4th grade. A soon to be 1st grader said he was worried about failing.
Is Vacation Bible School about fun songs and outdoor games and the different crafts that will be thrown away before summer is over? Yes. But I’m seeing it is so much more than that as well. It is about teaching (and you learning while you teach) that God will love you just as deeply as before whether you pass 4th grade cursive or you fail it. If a family member passes away He’ll get you through that too. If you’re worried about earthquakes He’ll comfort you in that.
What a privilege it has been and I’m thankful to be yet one piece in the puzzle that is Vacation Bible School.
PS. The only class that looked at me a bit lost is the last group – the four year olds. After a few blanks stares in response to, “What makes you worried?” I reworded the question, “What makes you upset?” They continued to stare. Then one piped up, “Do you sleep in this tent at night?!?”
PSS. I must stop writing and get to feeding my children and getting them dressed otherwise tomorrow’s post will be just a retelling of Monday’s post.