Boys and girls, Elmer’s glue and God

Michael J. Brooks / Guest Columnist

Vacation Bible School—what memories it evokes! When I was a child, we had two-week schools instead of today’s one-week or three or four days of classes. We marched in, saluted the flags and learned about missionaries. We heard from interesting guests, made a few field trips and learned the books of the Bible. And we made some neat things. Most of the items we made in craft class found their way to the refrigerator door, to dad’s desktop or to that special box of treasures our mothers always kept.

My mother for many years displayed some of my childhood VBS handiwork: a framed print of a rooster trimmed in colored popcorn and kidney beans. I can’t remember now, but I suppose the biblical application had something to do with the familiar story of the cock crowing after Peter denied he was a follower of Jesus.

A special part of VBS for me as an adult has always been the classroom visits when the pastor is invited to the various rooms to teach that day’s Bible story. It’s interesting to hear the boys’ and girls’ questions and their responses to the Bible or missionary stories.

In one church I was asked to teach Psalm 23 to the children. The theme was loneliness. I wanted to stress that we’re never alone, for God is always with us.

“Although David was in the wilderness alone with his flock,” I said, “he had a special friend who was with him at all times. Who was it?”

Denise, a freckle-faced bundle of sweetness replied, “He had the sheeps!”

We had a good laugh, for, of course, she was right.

The highlight of VBS is the decision time when boys and girls have opportunity to accept Christ as savior. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, NIV).

Our denomination’s church growth experts insist that we gain more new converts through Vacation Bible Schools than through revivals. Revivals are another tradition that many churches follow in late summer or early fall. I remember these sometimes went from Sunday to Sunday in my boyhood church, though I don’t see as many of these among our churches now. Of course the Covid pandemic prevented many things over the past 15 months.

Many of us bear on our souls the fingerprints of mentors who taught us in the summertime about God’s love. They paved the way for a life of faith for so many of us.

Pastors can’t do VBS alone, so many thanks to hosts of dedicated teachers, leaders, refreshment coordinators and musicians who still make it all possible.

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is Siluriabaptist.com.