Altar Call -- Opelika-Auburn News
June 3, 2001
Somewhere in Lee County there is a parent of a child will get up this morning, read this column, and receive it as a personal invitation. I do not know the family, but I would like to.
This family may include a mother and a father or it may be a single-parent family. The family may have one child or several. They may be living in a home that is rented or owned, in an apartment, or in a mobile home. The only thing that matters is that the child, or children, be at least three years old and not more than 12.
Here is my invitation: come to Vacation Bible School at Trinity United Methodist Church, 800 Second Avenue in Opelika, every morning this coming week, June 4-8, from 9:00 a.m. until 11:30. Is this just a backhanded publicity stunt, to promote VBS at Trinity? It may appear to be, but it is not. Let me explain.
The other day I met a couple with five children. The mother had a little boy draped across one hip. He was still wearing diapers. I asked his name. His mom said, "This is Stephen." I was suddenly speechless, almost in tears, without any reason.
No reason apparent to anyone but me. Looking at little Stephen, my mind went back 35 years to the days when my young wife often had our fifth child, a boy named Stephen, draped across her hip. It was an emotional moment as I recalled those long, tough years of baby food, diapers, and little children demanding attention.
I remembered both the joy and the difficulty of raising little children. I recalled the long nights of getting little sleep while rocking a sick child in my arms, and wondering if daylight would ever come. But other memories came to mind, of days filled with the fun and delight of watching our own children grow up.
So how does the church and Vacation Bible School fit into this? I don’t recall ever going to something like Vacation Bible School when I was a boy. We lived in the country, 15 miles from town, and there were no churches near us that ever invited my parents to bring me to a summer Bible School.
When our own children were ages three to 12, we took them to VBS every summer, and they loved it. They learned valuable lessons about the Bible, about themselves, and about living in families.
I began to realize that one of the basic purposes of a church is to help parents raise their children. So for many years no summer passes but that our church offers Vacation Bible School for children. Granted, it is no easy task. It is hard work, but the rewards are priceless. If we are able to help even one family get a handle on how to cope with the daily demands of family life, then it will have been worth all the hard work.
This week I began thinking about what fun many children will have during VBS at Trinity. Dozens of them will be all over the church, learning, laughing, playing, and best of all, discovering how faith can make a difference in the home.
I owe a lot to several women who have diligently prepared for these five days.
Debra Bennett, Lisa Horn, and Leigh Sasser are the able directors. Melinda Jackson and Joy Samford are two moms who work tirelessly to provide a ministry of excellence to children and their families. Many others, including men, women, and youth, are on the VBS team.
My invitation stems from the fact that Trinity is not an exclusive club; we are always looking for families that, having no church home, are willing to give us the honor of helping them raise their children. Our hearts skip a beat when we meet parents who are looking for a church to call home.
Thus the invitation I repeat: to a family with a child or children ages three to 12, anywhere within driving distance of Trinity, consider this my personal invitation to bring your children to VBS at Trinity this week. My hope is that your child or children will like it so much you will want to give us a chance to help you raise your kids from now on. If you have a church, and your church will have a Vacation Bible School, then of course that is the one for your children.
Tomorrow morning a little before nine o’clock, I will be standing outside looking for you, hoping to meet you and your children, and welcome you to Vacation Bible School at Trinity. All I ask is that you give us a chance to help you raise your children.