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The View from Below

I experienced Vacation Bible School from below the surface.  Our Bible station team spent most of those five mornings in the lower level chapel—a space most of our children never knew existed.  Each morning, more than 500 children and leaders opened the day worshiping together one floor above us. Muffled singing and “Stand strong!” shouted in unison were heard, as we pulled together final preparations for our part of the morning.

A morning at Kingdom Rock was filled with colorful sights, new songs and sounds, interesting and tasty treats, and unusual non-crafts that required hands-on exploration. Perfect for a child! But while we were aware of these varied pieces, our Bible team saw everything through the lens of the day’s Scripture passage…a wonderful view.

A moment of silence signaled the end of opening chapel, followed by a hundred feet clomping down the stairs and bursting into our station. And for us, this was the beginning.

The children never knew what to expect, making it exciting to them. We had the fun part—getting inside the characters and the story of the Scripture and bringing it to life. Our children forgot themselves as they experienced sights, sounds, smells, and textures while King David walked them through his writing of Psalm 23.  God’s love helps us stand strong.

The next morning they walked into the palace of King Xerxes, and witnessed Esther becoming Queen, then facing the difficult decision to stand up for God’s people. Friends and family help us stand strong.

They threw themselves behind Nehemiah and helped rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, watching for enemies and detractors. They were among the crowd as Jesus was celebrated coming into Jerusalem on a colt, and the same crowd as he was nailed to the cross.  They saw the empty tomb and felt the joy of his resurrection.

And then, we were done. Each day, the last group of kids emptied out of our station and headed back to the chapel for Fanfare Finale.  So did we.
And here is where it all came together. King Randy asked the audience what they had learned that day. Child after child bubbled over with things they had heard and taken in. I was taken aback to realize how much they had absorbed and connected, even internalized. They saw how David’s shepherding days shaped his Psalm about God as our Shepherd.  He is my shepherd, too. Mordecai played no small part in Queen Esther’s life as she risked her own for that of her people. Family and friends are there for me, too. The prayers of Nehemiah gave God’s people courage to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in the face of danger and discouragement. God will always hear and answer me when I pray.

Jesus trusted his Father, willingly setting aside the glory he deserved, in order to die in our place.  That should have been me. I can trust God, too. Final chapel that day retold Jesus’ gift of life, given through his own death and victory over it. As this story was acted out on stage, a few children were invited onto the stage, as a picture of “standing with Jesus”.  But many more than these few wanted to stand with Jesus. Unexpectedly and spontaneously, the entire audience emptied onto the stage.

My balcony seat afforded me a beautiful view of the empty seats and the crowded platform. Children obscured a large cross, to which hundreds of paper hands where nailed, each one placed there by a child. It was breathtaking.

That week, I was one part of a small team within a much larger team who served, in Jesus’ name, a huge number of children.  As much as we prepared, we could not have anticipated such a beautiful and powerful response. Vacation Bible School was a glimpse of God’s people, together serving him, for his glory.