In those days, VBS ended with the sixth grade. Seventh grade and above were welcome to attend, but were also encouraged to become workers and help out the adults. Moreover, for the first time, our little church decided to undertake an offsite version of VBS. This was in the afternoon, and in addition to our regular VBS, which itself was in the morning. It was held specifically in a mobile home park, and designed to reach out to those whom, today, would be referred to as "unchurched".
As a part of the daily VBS program, the children were all welcomed, and then led in the saying of pledges – one each to the American flag, to the Christian flag, and to the Bible. Thus, on that first afternoon, the pledge was said first to the American flag.
As might be expected, most every child knew this. After this came the Christian flag. When asked if they knew what this flag represented, a little child proudly raised her hand and responded that it was the Red Cross.
In what amounts to one of the less responsible acts of my whole life, along with several others who were equally as immature and insensitive as me at that age, I snickered. In my mind, I was thinking, “How could anyone not know this was the Christian flag?!” As might be expected, we were promptly, if lovingly, admonished by our leaders. Later, when the time was right, a much more thorough discussion followed.
Of course, I now see the point. I had been raised in church. I was familiar with church terms, church symbols, and church customs. But these children in the mobile home park had no such blessing. They operated in an entirely different context. All they knew of church, or Christianity, or even of Jesus Christ, was from the perspective of those outside the faith community. In truth, the little girl was only being honest. She knew nothing of Jesus, of His church, or of Christian things. Hence, the purpose of VBS, and of our being there to begin with.
I have been reminded of this episode yet again this week. I praise God for hundreds of little lives whose paths we, as a church, will cross this week during VBS. For many of them, this may be the first they have ever heard of Someone named Jesus. It might also be the last they will ever hear of Him. In light of these things, it behooves us to make absolutely certain that we tell them all about Him.
May we always remember this simple but profound truth. May we always remember to tell everyone we encounter about Jesus. And if we do, then Vacation Bible School (and everything else we do) will have been worthwhile - because it will have fulfilled its primary purpose.
I leave you with two great passages of Scripture to ponder...
13”Then were there brought to him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come to me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. " (Matthew 19:13-14)
13”For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:13-14)