Fragmented Reflections of a VBS Volunteer
Vacation Bible School (VBS) 2019 was held from 28-30 November. We thank God for His goodness and faithfulness to us and the children throughout the camp. Deborah Yap, the camp commandant, shares her reflection from the camp.
Over two and a half days, I watched a bunch of 50 frazzled church volunteers scatter themselves across the five levels of Grace Baptist Church, chanting the camp’s Bible points at every opportunity as an army of 80 children aged 3 through 12 swarmed around them. “When life is unfair, GOD IS GOOD! When life is scary or sad, GOD IS GOOD! When life changes, GOD IS GOOD!”
The volunteers came in different ages, colours, shapes and sizes. But they had a thing in common. They were not there for themselves. I watched them sing loudly, dance vigorously, zip and unzip bags, pick up water bottles, hold on tightly to little fingers smaller than theirs. I watched them put on smiles, clean up tears, reach their arms out to little people they did not know, had never met. Some mopped the sticky floors and cleaned the wet tables as the lessons went on. Some had spent weeks before covered in paint and cardboard shreds as they worked to make the camp stage come to life. Quietly, faithfully.
I do not know if they realised that this was the body of Christ in action. I do not know if they realised Christ’s love was on display through them. But it was.
On the morning of the first day of camp, the children tottered in through the doors of the sanctuary. “When life is unfair, GOD IS GOOD!!!!” their shrill voices rang out, echoing the volunteers onstage.
I watched them over the days and wondered, do they know the weight of the words that they carelessly shouted out with gusto? Surely they did not proclaim the truth with conviction but were just saying what they thought they should say, not really grasping the weight of these words? They obviously do not understand the breadth and depth of life’s unfairness? Even in their simplistic understanding of unfairness, do they actually have the maturity and perspective to see God’s goodness in it?
Then something made me stop. Do I?
As the camp went on, the children who were restless, disruptive or misbehaving would frustrate me a little. They were not keeping the order.
But they’re just kids, I would then think to myself. Having a short attention span, getting easily distracted, forgetting instructions, not knowing what it means to behave respectfully in church – this is how children are! There is only so much one can do to control their behaviour. They’ll learn their lessons in time, and some the hard way…
The irony hit me almost immediately.
Who can even begin to imagine how much we frustrate our Father in heaven every day with our wilful disobedience and easily distracted, wandering hearts. But oh, how He loves us. Oh, how He loves the little children.
We had short teaching moments for the children in big group sessions. Super simple and short illustrations that would reinforce a lesson point. I had read the script and watched the lesson rehearsed so many times. A helium balloon tied to a rock. The balloon is us, and the rock is God. Life can hit you in many ways but you will always be held down by the rock.
We got kids to come up and hit the balloon. “Sometimes we may feel like this balloon, being hit left and right, with no control of where you are going,” we said. I watched the helium balloon get hit by the kids – left, right, up, down. It had no control over itself.
“But no matter what, the balloon always comes back to centre. Why? Because it is held down secure by this rock. God is our rock. He never changes. He holds us fast and secure. This balloon reminds us that even when life changes, God is good,” we concluded.
I had to fight the tears in my eyes.
This year’s camp theme was about God’s goodness – seeing and acknowledging God’s goodness in every of life’s challenging and wild circumstances. And every day we talked about God’s goodness. Sang songs about it, played games around it, did crafts on it, learnt lessons about it. God is good, God is good, God is good.
The volunteers joked amongst ourselves. We repeated it too many times to the kids already, I think they will be so sick of hearing it by the end of camp.
But now as it’s all done and dusted, the camp has come to a close and the children have all gone home, in the quietness of my heart I pray and hope that one day they will come to realise what a precious gift they had been given. That someone was there to remind them of God’s goodness, every hour, every minute. That someone shared God’s goodness with them because they knew it was important, because they knew it was true.
And I hope and pray with all my heart that the rest of us can be that person for someone else too.