Sunday, July 19, 2009

When Heaven touches earth

It’s Sunday afternoon, VBS is over, Nic has gone home, and after Roger and I (well he fell asleep in the recliner) watched a movie, he is out in the shop, the house is quiet, and I’m trying to find a project to work on but in the mean time I want to record some things about our VBS.

We had a great week at VBS last week. Rome with Paul and the Underground Church was our theme, and the kids learned:
1) God’s Love Is a Gift
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
2) God’s Love changes us
“Don’t copy the behavior and custom of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Romans 12:2)
3) God’s Love is Always with us
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” (Romans 8:38)
4) God’s Love saves us
“But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8)
5) God’s Love is worth sharing
“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ.” (Romans 1:16)

These were the basics of each evening’s lessons.
They would go and visit Paul and his extremely grumpy guard Brutus every evening where Paul would share the above points explaining them to the kids until grumpy Brutus ran them off. Then they would wind their way through black plastic lined hallways down the stairs into the cave of the “Underground Church”.

Here they learned what it was like to live a life for Christ under the fear of being arrested and chased by Roman Guards. Then it was on to the Roman Market place where they learned to work with leather, metal, and wood, while visiting a toga shop and café. Every evening a drama depicting the lesson for the evening was acted out in the Market Place for the children to witness. On one evening it was a thief being shown God’s love by receiving unmerited forgiveness, or another evening it was a lady being arrested for standing up for her faith though being threatened with her very life. Fun and games ensued also, just one being chariot races that were held every evening where the kids were pulled through an obstacle course in the grass by two Family group leaders on large pieces of cardboard.
Now lest you be yawning at this point thinking that our little ones were carefully told Bible stories and made cute crafts and played fun games, think again. Brutus was so very angry that he was forced to guard Paul, that his temper flared on more than one occasion literally sending one little girl into tears, and others scurrying from the room when he would turn red in the face and scream “GET OUT!”
Another night they got to experience the fear of not knowing what might happen to someone they loved while cowering in a corner of the underground church while the soldiers were right outside the cave entrance, threatening to come in and find us. As they clung to the adults and buried their faces in our robes they were sure we had been found out.
But in the end they saw the transformation that Jesus can make in a life when on the last night when they went to visit Paul, Brutus had accepted Christ, and would no longer be working as a guard in a prison, but as a stable hand in the emperor’s stable.
Marcus who had been chased off by the Roman soldiers returned to the underground church safe and sound, but that night when they left the followers of Jesus had to leave with them; their place of worship had been found out. So in joy they departed to find another place to worship.
Our intention was not to scare the children, but our actors did such a wonderful job portraying their characters that the kids got caught up in the stories, and each night had things to share with us, and questions to ask before we even launched into our scripts for the evenings.
Complete families came to church together all week and parents followed as their children visited Paul and Brutus, the underground church and the market place. They came as families to church this morning and we all sang and worshipped together, and Brutus stood and gave his testimony about what it was like to accept Jesus.
When I have times like this I can see that heaven has touched earth, lives have been changed, and families are supported in ways they hadn’t been before. I’ve had a tough week, and yes we are tired, but the feeling in our souls and hearts is so great the weariness is worth it all.