To all my Vacation Bible School Teachers:
My girls began attending their first Vacation Bible School yesterday, and throughout the day, I was excited for them. They’re only five and three, so they can’t really appreciate why I love VBS so much. But let me make it clear: it’s because of you.
You probably didn’t know this, but our family didn’t have a lot of money; so we didn’t take too many summer vacations. I didn’t know it though.
As far as I knew, I went on vacation for four weeks during the summer: one week at Petal Harvey Baptist Church, another at Lynn Ray Road Baptist Church, another at Calvary Baptist Church, and another at Eastabuchie Baptist Church. There were skits, cookies, ice pops, stories, homemade crafts, and friendly teachers (not to mention the fact that it was called “Vacation Bible School” after all).
Maybe some of you ladies and teenage volunteers thought you were just doing your time on VBS duty. No matter – that wasn’t how I saw it. To me, you were the people in charge of the Gospel cruise ship. You were my sanctified Big Bird, my holy Captain Kangaroo, my faith-based Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. You made Jesus real, and you made Him fun.
Do you have any idea how many specific, vivid, happy memories I have of VBS? This letter would run inordinately long if I shared them all, but if you’ll pardon me, I’ll at least share a few.
- Ms. Jeanell Rainey, I remember you taking me under your wing at Calvary Baptist and spending extra time with me. You kept telling me how smart I was and marveled at my knowledge of the Bible. You made VBS a place where I was affirmed (and by the way, you all did an amazing job with that spaceship-themed VBS that one year; I felt like I was watching a live episode of Star Trek).
- Ms. Marcia Carter, you took arts and crafts to a whole new level at Lynn Ray Road Baptist Church. You taught us how to make tie-dyed shirts and had patience with my unwillingness to sing that song, “Fly Like an Eagle.” By the way, in a twist of irony, I still remember every word to that song, and it still runs through my head sometimes (“From the top of the mountain, over the valley below, I’m gonna fly like an eagle, for He goes with me, everywhere I go”).
- Reverend Ford, I imagine you’re reading this from Heaven. I still treasure our quiet rides in your old green car to Eastabutchie Baptist Church. You weren’t a man of many words, but you were faithful to come pick us up every year for VBS. And I’m sure those serene rides down Highway 11 helped get my heart ready for all the good things I was about to learn at your little country church.
- Dana Kendrick, you were a fellow VBS student, but you’re the most vivid memory of VBS at Petal Harvey Baptist Church. You always got to carry the Bible to the front during the daily commencement ceremonies and lead the pledge of allegiance to the Bible. You were so careful, so sincere about it; and it helped me believe that something solemn, special, and serious was happening. It was. Thank you for helping me realize it.
When I got home from work yesterday, my girls told me all about their adventures at VBS. It made me grateful to all the volunteers who are investing time in them this week. It also made me grateful for you, and I wanted to let you all know.
Jesus said, “’With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’” (Mark 4:30-32).
Thank you so much for all the seeds you planted all those years ago. God only knows all the ways they grew up in my heart.