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Heart Matters: A Child Will Lead

"Lord, I'm miserable. The kids woke me last night with bad dreams and sore throats. I'm starting the day already exhausted, and today's the first day of vacation Bible school. I need your strength to face this day and teach those little ones!"

This was my morning prayer at the beginning of a very hectic week. But after the week was over, I knew God had leaned down and listened to me on that early morning -- and answered.

The doorbell rang at 8:30, and three eager, smiling neighborhood children stood ready to go. I packed them up in our van -- along with my three children  -- and headed off to VBS.

Our church has a five-day vacation Bible school. On the first day, I began teaching my class of 5-year-olds. One child concerned me because he had a short attention span that made him a behavior challenge at times. I prayed for strength.

On day three, my 5-year-old daughter, Malinda, awoke with a fever. Now what was I going to do? I needed to teach at VBS, and I had five other children depending on me to take them. My husband was away on a four-day business trip, which didn't help. Fortunately, my mother-in-law willingly cared for Malinda that day, and I praised God for my family.

By day five, I was tired again. My joy was depleted. Nagging thoughts bogged me down. I'm not very good at teaching this age. Maybe I should do something else next year -- this is too hard. But I sought God's strength for that last day, and my cry for help was answered through a sweet gift.

My treasured gift was a handmade thank you note-from the child whom I'd anticipated to be a challenge for me. Colorful glitter and stickers framed the words "To a very nice teacher. God bless you."

And God did bless me. A first blessing came the following week. I received a phone call from a neighborhood child's mother. Her child loved vacation Bible school so much that she asked her parents, "Why can't we go to that church, too?" They weren't attending anywhere and became curious about our church. Oh, Lord -- great is your faithfulness. A child will lead them...became my silent prayer of thanksgiving.

Then a second blessing. A sixth- grader went home from vacation Bible school and told his dad, "Everybody who's somebody goes to church! When I grow up and have a family, we're going to go to church." This family's three children had attended our VBS for several years, but the family wasn't attending church. The family started coming because of a child's enthusiasm. Oh, Lord, a child will lead them.

Is teaching children worth the energy and effort it often takes? Are vacation Bible school programs worth the time, planning, people, and stamina?

If I chose to be selfish and wanted things to come easily, I'd say no. Sometimes teaching children is hard work! But when I recall this past year's VBS and remember how the children led their families to church, I choose to say yes, yes, yes! It's worth every ounce of energy, and I'll teach again next year.

We never know what God has planned, but surely it must be more than we think or imagine. As we invest our time in leading children closer to Jesus, God in turn uses children's enthusiasm to lead us closer to himself. Now that's a ministry we shouldn't miss out on!

Brenda Roth is the girls club coordinator at her church in Sellersville, Pennsylvania.

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