With crazy summer travel and several pressing deadlines, I have asked my summer intern from Taylor University—Emma Holley—to pinch-hit for me. She’s written a very thoughtful blog, reminding us of the impact one person can make if we look for those special moments, those God opportunities to share His love with those around us. Her experience happened during VBS this summer. If you’ve ever worked Vacation Bible School, you know how intense and wonderful it can be…
It was the last night of VBS. The kindergarten group was exploring the craft area, using their tiny plastic binoculars to see all that they could see. Parents and volunteers outnumbered the kids, standing around to talk as they played. The fellowship hall was oddly quiet now that the kids were done coloring.
I leaned against a table at the back of the room, trying to smile. My back was groaning after a week of bending over to tie shoes and pull up pants. My voice was gruff from shouting in a microphone, spreading the Gospel through the words of a puppet. My body was shaky from hunger and dehydration, as I spent my dinnertime convincing a child to eat.
I needed this week to remind me of everything I love about kids.
I love their squeaky voices. I love their cleverness and their dance moves. I love the wild ones who see the sanctuary as a racetrack and the quiet ones who just want to color. I love their big hugs and their hearts for God. I love seeing parents talk to their child about Jesus – possibly for the first time. I love them, so I serve them.
My body screamed as soon as I quit leaning against the table, but I saw a teachable moment that I couldn’t pass up. God pulled me over to three boys, who were peering at me through their binoculars. I giggled and pointed at the stained glass windows across from them. “Come on! Come on, I want to show you something.”
They huddled at the window as evening sunlight glinted through the rough-cut glass. The glass was like multicolored gems, pink and orange and green and red. The Body of Christ, beautiful and different and beloved by God. The kids oohed and aahed, their mouths agape as they used their binoculars for a closer look.
Knowing that only one of the boys attended our church, I chose my words carefully, hoping to tell them a Gospel truth. “Each gem here stands for someone in this church, including you,” I said. “You guys are here at this church, so you’re a part of it, too! Which gem do you think you are?”
The boys excitedly pointed at the gems. “I think I’m the green one,” a squeaky blonde said.
“I’m the red!” a brown-haired lad said.
“How did they get in there?” the shortest boy asked.
“I don’t know. They made these windows a long time ago, way before I went to church here,” I said.
“Can we take them down?” the brown-haired lad asked.
I paused. I forget sometimes how literal kids are. “No, sorry. They have to stay in the window. But we can pretend which ones we are.”
I felt like I did something right. I’d created an opening for the Gospel; all I had to do now was tell them about the Body of Christ. “This is the family of God,” I said, praying for the right words to come.
I was swiftly interrupted by the shortest boy. “Are we going to the gym next?”
“Uh…go ask your leader,” I said, blanking.
The two blonde boys dashed away, pat-pat-pat-pat, thinking it was time to go. “Wait! I didn’t mean go to the gym now, you still have five minutes!” I said.
The dark-haired boy remained, observing the gems. “Maybe a big rock got them in here,” he said.
“Maybe,” I said. I took a breath and held my tongue. Was I meant to talk to him? My heart grew hopeful. This is it.
Then, the youth pastor entered with his phone on a selfie stick. He was filming a recap video for this Sunday’s service. Immediately, my starry-eyed friend jumped and waved his arms frantically at him. “David! Film me! Film me!”
Disappointment creeped over me. I’d lost them. Exhaustion took the reins from disappointment and begged me to sit down. There’s not much else you can do. It’s not worth it.
Then, the boy danced. It started out like any other viral craze, but then it became…unique. He was an expressive little guy. As he discoed, his smile revealed a big gap between his two front teeth. He wiggled, he hopped, he sashayed. He practically bounced off his own two feet. It was like someone took Stretch Armstrong and shook him hard to limber him up.
David corralled the boys back. He told Disco Dan to introduce his friends and talk about his favorite part of VBS. Though the boy was enthusiastic, the other kids blushed, uncomfortably smiling for the camera. Disco Dan’s mom issued a warning: “Stop. Settle down. Listen to David.” She meant business.
I looked back at the windows, then the little boy.
I sighed and laughed. While David set up his camera, I told the boy to dance, because why shouldn’t he? He is beautiful, and he is having fun. He is a gem in the stained glass window, and the light is shining through him, here for all to see. Even if he doesn’t remember learning the Gospel at VBS, he will remember that window. He will always have that gem.