Today was the third day of Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (ORLC). I simply love it! There are so many new faces and seeing people consistently, each day, has allowed me to get to know the names and faces of the congregation members. This year at Our Redeemer's VBS, we had fifty participants! 50! That is the most that ORLC has had in the four years that Pastor Steve has been here. It cannot be explained other than by God.
The theme for this year’s VBS is “One-of-a-Kind Zoo” based upon the theme verse from Job that says “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:10). Each day of VBS is dedicated to learning about a “One-of-a-Kind” animal in order to understand how God created everything for His purpose and to glorify Him.
The church has been turned literally into a zoo. Our decorations are wonderfully creative, and well done. My role for VBS is to fill in as needed and help answer questions of the volunteers and helpers. I really enjoy being able to drift from one place to another and to simply watch the VBS participants as they interact at the crafts, sing with enthusiasm in music, or react as each Bible story becomes alive in front of their eyes.
The volunteers are INCREDIBLE! I knew volunteers were important but it was not until I was on the “other side” of overseeing an event that I have come to cherish their support and help. I experienced this in field work last year at Messiah Lutheran Church of Lakeville, MN when lining up musicians to help lead a service and parents to chaperon and drive confirmands to a retreat.
The congregation of ORLC has members who are dedicated and passionate to their mission: Connecting People to Jesus. While ORLC is one of the smaller congregations I have been able to work with, they really don’t act it. Members hear and see a need and respond to it, giving it everything they've got. I was very impressed to see that over 35 volunteers helped with tasks from ironing t-shirt logos, donating snacks, and decorating the church, to leading and teaching the VBS classes. The volunteers are the foundation that has helped to make this year’s VBS a success. This year, as in years past, ORLC is privileged to have volunteers from across the country as part of a group called Alaska Mission for Christ. Our volunteers come from as far as Cincinnati Ohio, to Nebraska and everywhere in-between.
In Matthew 18:2-4, the Bible tells us that we must be like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven. Part of the joy of observing the children at VBS is witnessing real childlike faith. These kids get it! Life is so simple, there is no worry of finances, a job, or being on time because their parents worry about that. This is not about innocence, but rather dependence. Children are dependent on us for their quality of life and the substance we provide. For all of us, this means we are to be dependent on Him and allow His empowerment to fill us.
If we look at the context of the verse, Jesus spells out what he means in using the metaphor of becoming like a child. It has nothing to do with the popular meaning we attribute to "childlike faith." In fact, the verse does not even use the word "faith." Rather, Jesus says, "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:4). Read in context, we see that Jesus is referring to one particular attribute of children that is naturally lost in grown-ups. When he speaks of becoming like a child, Jesus means this: humility.
This humility was shown upon the cross by our “One-of-a-Kind Savior” Jesus Christ. It is Christ Jesus who sees the value of faith as paramount over anything else. Faith is lifted up as the most important thing we have or do. Yet, all too often, we do not seek faith, but rather just what we can get. We focus on the world, our finances, our job, and the clock. If we are going to express our childlike faith we must seek humbleness and trust so we will be able to grow in faith and maturity (Psalm 130 and 131).
At VBS the children do not worry about what is coming next, they focus on the here and now; gluing on the googly eyes, singing the song, or winning the game. They get it! They really do understand and demonstrate the “childlike faith” Jesus calls us to have.
It is my prayer that this VBS will be a “One-of-a-Kind” experience for the children and volunteers so they all see their “One-of-a-Kind” Savior work mightily in each of their lives and for all those involved to witness and find the child that God calls us to be, His Child.