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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

My Journey: "He Sure Works Fast!"

By Karla Boyd
May 25, 2014

Friday nights during a southeast Texas summer are fairly predictable. Plants and mammals alike have finally stopped wilting beneath the sun’s searing rays. The sizzling pavement has cooled to a mere “toasty,” and the heavy, breath-stealing humidity drenches the evening air.

There is always the unmistakable scent of children who have been playing outside all day in greater Houston’s stifling heat. Someone once told me sweaty little boys smell like a combination of gym socks and wet puppies; in August in Houston, little girls don’t smell much better.

This particular Friday night, however, was less typical than most. It was the last night of our annual three-night Vacation Bible School. Friday night is my favorite night of VBS. It’s the night kids get to stay up a little later and the service can go on a little longer.

As anyone who has ever served during Vacation Bible School knows, everything seen and experienced is the result of hours, days, weeks and months of the sweat, tears and occasional blood of a devoted children’s pastor and his or her dedicated staff. Yet, beyond the anxieties and concerns, comes the joy when ideas and passion merge to create decorations, props, costumes and scripts, which are then transformed, by the power of the Holy Spirit, into mighty tools that can open a child’s heart to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Friday nights are particularly special because more time can be spent around the altar and in God’s presence. As a VBS volunteer, I have had the privilege of offering prayers for a plethora of cats, dogs, snakes, turtles, and other pets. But I have also listened to desperate children pray desperate prayers for parents who are fighting or contemplating divorce or both.

Grief-filled tears are shed for grandparents who have recently died. Sharing the loss and sorrow experienced by a very young child puts the petty, inconsequential thoughts and feelings of a typical day into crystal-clear perspective.

Our children’s pastor, Ms. Tonia Smith, will never forget a prayer request made several years ago by a little girl during altar time on Thursday evening. We had never seen the girl before that week. She most likely had been drawn in by our banner announcing VBS.

The girl wanted to pray for food because she was hungry and her mom had no money. Ms. Tonia, struggling to hold back tears, sincerely and with complete faith that God would provide, prayed that the needs of this girl and her family would be met.

Within a half hour or so, all the children had gone home. Only a handful of faithful volunteers remained to clean and straighten up in anticipation of the last night of VBS the following evening.

That’s when Ms. Tonia put some feet on her prayers and shared the plight of the girl and her family with us. Within 5 minutes, we had collected $200 in cash. We gave what we had — our loaves and fish — so that Jesus could bless it and feed one little family who was just as important to Him as the multitude.

When the girl and her mom arrived for VBS the next evening, Ms. Tonia met them at the door and presented them with a gift card to a local grocery store.

“God answered your prayer!” Ms. Tonia exclaimed.

Amazed, the little girl replied, “Man! He sure works fast!”

That Friday night, the girl walked through a church door she had opened for the first time just two nights before, and into what would soon be a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. She discovered just how much God really loved and cared about her. That night at VBS, she made the decision to give her heart to Jesus.

The apostle Paul wrote, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9, NLT).

Sadly, many churchgoers view Vacation Bible School as merely a vacation for parents who don’t want to be bothered with their kids for a few days out of the summer. Those of us firsthand witnesses, however, see it for the genuine outreach that it is: a divine opportunity to plant a seed in the fertile soil of a child’s heart.

KARLA BOYD attends Faithbridge Church (Assemblies of God) in Deer Park, Texas.

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