4 Years Later – An Over Night Success

A few years back we made the decision at our church to move the wildly popular day time VBS to night time. We invited the entire family to be a part of it. We served dinner. We offered a class for adults.
You would have thought we were suggesting a sacrifice of puppies on the alter.
“Why would you KILL something so good?”
“Why do you HATE the children?”
“Who do you think you are, changing our ways?”
These are only a few of the responses we got with this decision. They came in the form of phone calls, emails, text messages, Facebook messages, stops in the grocery store, with lunch invitations, and my favorite…a drive up to my front door. Yep, someone drove to my house, knocked on my door, and, in front of my children, asked me why I hate kids.
It wasn’t easy and I questioned the decision at least a million times. The thing I kept going back to is that if we say we are a church that values families then we have to invest in families. If we say that we want to bring families together for the benefit of the Kingdom of God then we have to create environments for families to be together. If we say we want parents to be spiritual leaders in the home then we have to give them the tools to take the leadership out of the hands of the church.
And sometimes, not always, but sometimes, you have to get rid of something that is really good to make room for something else really good. The sucky part is that some people didn’t measure “really good” on the same score card I felt God had required me to start using. The change was slow. It was four years slow.
There were a few people on board from day one. Thank God for those people because I would’ve thrown in the towel when the first mom yelled at me. There were a few people that came on shortly after. I thank God for them because it was a sign that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t such a crazy idea after all. There were a lot more people that took a lot more time and, well, I thank God for them, too.
This year was wild. And by wild I mean running out of tostadas and kids dancing in the aisles wild. Which brings me to the moment I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had led our team down this path for a reason.
On the first day of VBS this year I got a call from a woman at a local shelter for abused women. The women at this particular shelter are fresh from abusive situations. Most have taken their babies and what they could carry and no more. They have no where else to go. The woman at the shelter told me that they had 4 women with several children that they wanted to bring to our VBS. They couldn’t pay us and couldn’t promise that they’d be back. There was no question. Bring them all.
I won’t lie and say I didn’t hesitate when I found that some of the kids coming were teens. Our VBS uses teens as group leaders and helpers and I wasn’t quite sure where I would plug these kids in but I knew they all had to be invited.
I never met the moms that night. I didn’t want to single them out and be like, “Hey, I hear you’re homeless!” I smiled and welcomed them and I hugged their kids but I never spoke specificalities to them. What I did see though was in the closing. When the band was playing a song about the one-of-a-kind love of Jesus and the Jam Team was clapping and dancing, one of the little girls threw her crutches down (I have no clue as to why she was on crutches) and slid out into the aisle. She danced her heart out. She balanced on one leg, raised her arms, and sang at the top of her lungs.
For one night, that little girl got to be a part of something joyful and fun. She got to do it with her siblings and her mom. Their whole family heard a message of Jesus’ love and it’s powerful healing abilities. The mom heard a message that God desires that she be loved and respected and the kids got to run and play.
This year’s VBS was a win in so many columns that I may need to make new columns. God is so good and I am so blessed to be a part of what he’s doing in his kingdom. While I would’ve loved to have seen an over night success and people jumping on board immediately, I am grateful for the       journey and looking forward to the road ahead.

2 Replies to “4 Years Later – An Over Night Success”

  1. I am so happy you stayed the course! The energy of all those families eating, playing, dancing, and worshiping together was phenomenal. Thank you for your courage in following God’s voice.

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