VBS is many things to many people; excitement, high energy, fun, a time to meet new friends and a time to learn about Christ. But for me this year, VBS was a chance to see God open a door to engage one family in our own cul-de-sac.
Each year, children from various churches, daycares and neighborhoods register and attend our event here at Swift Creek. Clover Hill Children’s Center sends close to 40 kids each summer and for some of these children, this is the only time they will hear and experience the love of Jesus all summer.
Monday evening after VBS I asked my boys how their day had gone. They were excited about the games, crafts and events they had been able to be a part of, but were even more excited to tell me who they had seen. Our neighbor, Aaliyah, who lives with her grandmother, had come to VBS with the Clover Hill group of children. She is the only girl in our neighborhood of little boys. She doesn’t often play outside and spends most of her time at daycare.
Tuesday morning I looked for her. She was in the front row sitting with her first grade class. When Worship Rally was over, I dismissed each class from the back of the Worship Center to the front, leaving her class until last. I stepped down off the stage and spoke briefly with her, reminding her that I was her neighbor and was so glad she was here! She smiled as she put the pieces together and recognized me for the first time.
Each morning after that, she would smile and wave as she passed by leaving the Worship Rally. Thursday morning during the mission’s rotation, each class was presented the gospel message and given an opportunity to respond. Tracey and I stood outside in the hallway to help as children were escorted into a smaller room to talk with their teachers about their decisions. I watched as Aaliyah came out of the room and came over and gave me a hug before entering the room with her teacher. I waited outside the door praying for her to truly understand and know the decision she was making. A few minutes later, the teacher walked out of the room with the 4 girls she had been counseling and told me they each had made a decision to accept Christ. My heart overflowed with joy!
Over the next couple of days we engaged their family a couple of times, inviting Aaliyah back to church to sing Sunday morning and leaving a follow up visitor’s bag on her doorstep. God planned for Aaliyah to be at this particular daycare center and planned for her to be a part of our Vacation Bible School long before I was a part of this church. It truly has been a blessing to see him work in the lives of children and our church members and volunteers as they have been a part of changing lives for Christ. There are many stories to share about our experiences this year. If you get the chance, find someone who was a part of VBS this summer and ask them about it. Listen to their stories and be encouraged that God used so many people to share his love with close to 300 children this summer.
Then come find me and ask how you can get involved next year. We have opportunities for each of you (even if you are unavailable during the week and want to do something behind the scenes)!
-Janelle Collazo, Preschool and Children's Events Director