Vacation Bible School Is Upon Us!

          I’ve always been fascinated with “outer space.” When I was a kid, the US space program was going strong and our nation was in a race with Russia to send the first man to the moon. President Kennedy challenged us in 1961 to put humans on the moon by the end of the decade, and we did.

          On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. I remember the “breaking news bulletin” interrupted a Sunday afternoon Braves game on TV, but we were thrilled with America’s accomplishment.

          This year’s VBS theme is “Galatic Starveyors.” With Colossians 1:15-16 as our biblical backdrop, children and students will discover that the God who created everything wants a personal relationship with them.

          This concentrated time of Bible study, activity, music, crafts, recreation, refreshments and fun for children and students usually is held during a week of “summer vacation.”  People now take vacations throughout the year, so the emphasis could be called “Summer Bible School,” but Vacation Bible School, or VBS, is the traditional name.

          Our dedicated workers take VBS very seriously. Preparation and follow-up take weeks before and weeks after the event is completed.  Our workers spend several weeks decorating their rooms to coordinate with this year’s emphasis.  They spend hours preparing their material and lesson plans.  Once VBS is completed, the work continues as Sunday School teachers invite children to enjoy their classes on Sundays.

          For me, VBS is not only a present blessing, but also a pleasant childhood memory.  My early years were spent at Jefferson Avenue Baptist Church in East Point.  We’d have a crowd.  I still remember Bible verses that I learned in those summer settings.  I remember gluing popsicle sticks together to make a “plaque” and then gluing on macaroni letters that read, “what time I am afraid I will trust in Thee,” (Psalm 56:3).

          I always looked forward to refreshment time, which usually meant peanut butter crackers and a bottle of Nehi grape or orange soda.

          Darwin Caldwell, pastor of Jefferson Avenue, shared what VBS meant to him growing up: “I remember the craft projects, the Bible drills where I learned the books of the Bible, the Bible stories, the Kool Aid and cookies, and the games we played. It also provided a welcomed break from chopping weeds and hauling hay and other farm chores.”

          VBS later played a key role in my call to ministry.  As a college student, I applied to be a Baptist Student Union summer missionary.  Baptist Student Union, now called Baptist Collegiate Ministry, is a Baptist-supported ministry to students on campuses across the nation.  Every summer hundreds of students serve in various roles overseas and nationally.

          I was appointed to serve as a vacation Bible school worker in the Bahamas.  (It was a tough assignment, but someone had to do it).  I was Georgia’s representative among 12 students who were divided into teams, teamed with Bahamian youth and assigned to different churches over a five-week period.  Our team stayed in Nassau and worked with five different churches helping to lead VBS.

          I taught the youth, and my two partners worked with the children and the preschoolers respectively.  At the end of two weeks, my partners wanted to switch.  One of them took youth, the other took children, and I ended up with the preschoolers.  I didn’t really picture myself as a preschool worker, but it was a time of exercising great flexibility and of realizing how God could use me if I was open and willing to be used.  It was a time of tremendous personal and spiritual growth.  Looking back, I now see how God used that formative experience to show me He could use me as a full-time minister.

          Vacation Bible Schools are still going strong in churches across our county teaching children and young people more about the Bible and about how to have a stronger relationship with Jesus.

          Our McDonough Road Baptist Church VBS is June 12-16, 9-noon for children, pre-K through fifth grade (must be five by Sept. 1). Students sixth-twelfth grades have their VBS daily 6-8 p.m. You can enroll by going to our website or by coming by the church office.

Dr. David Chancey