LINCOLN – It’s something most Christians would never give a second thought to, but for one fifth grader at Edmondson Baptist Church’s Vacation Bible School (VBS), the concept of how to read a Bible was completely foreign.
“It was our very first lesson,” said pastor Rex Green, who was also serving as the fifth and six grade teacher during VBS. “We were taking turns going around the room reading out of Matthew and when I came to Taylor, he looked at me, confused, and said, ‘I still don’’t get what you’re talking about … what’s a chapter and verse?’”
The chapter-verse concept is so ingrained in church goers – including Green – that he was at first taken aback.
“I had three options,” he said. “Get mad at his parents, school teachers, neighbors for never exposing this child to the most significant book ever printed in the history of mankind. Option B: Weep for the loss of our youth to the graveyard of spiritually uninformed mediocrity and ultimate condemnation. Or Option C: Calmly explain to him that the Bible is divided into books, chapters, and verses so that it is easier to find and remember passages from it, and help him find the passage from Matthew that we were reading.
“It took me a minute, but I went with Option C. Taylor read two verses quite well, and we all paused in our class to celebrate the first words he had ever read from a Bible. We applauded him, gave him a prize and then gave him a bigger prize, his very own copy of the Holy Bible.”
On the second day of VBS, Taylor came back, new Bible in hand. He had read the first five chapters of Genesis on his own.
According to Green, it is just one example in how VBS can be used by God to pull people in.
“If an unchurched kid comes to VBS, those same kids want to come to camp and other children and youth ministries in the church,” Green said. “It’s an absolutely necessary doorway into the church. It reminded me, again, of why VBS is such a critical ministry. It reminded me of why we plan, budget, prepare, and generally drive one another crazy for months leading up to the day when we’re not even sure if we’ll have any kids attend. It reminded me of why we learn all those goofy songs, with the goofier choreography, and spend all that time and effort setting up enough audio-visual equipment to host a major rock concert. It reminded me why we spend hundreds of dollars on decorations that will spend the next decade in a storage room. Taylor’s soul is beautiful, and valuable beyond measure.”
Green said it’s been a good doorway for adults who are already a part of the church as well.
“We have a lot of adults in the church that are schooled in doctrine and are solid, but they’re just not sure they have what it takes to teach,” he said. “VBS walks them through that and gets them ready. It lifts them up just as much as the kids.”
BRIAN KOONCE/staff writer