Of course, any believer knows that the Church of Christ (aka Christianity) will survive because we believe prophecy.
But there's another reason: At least 150 kids came to our church's VBS (Vacation Bible School) this week. 97 was the biggest single evening attendance --this is at least 20 more than last year.
Did the atheists have such an event this summer? Granted, public school and TV can be daily secular indoctrination. But the message at VBS and other church children's ministries is unique among cultural messages and always includes the fact that Jesus Christ died for our sins that we might be forgiven and inherit eternal life. No other message can compare.
This year, we were the underground church --with a scary Roman guard lurking here and there (Mayor Yunker's son.) We had a "cave" classroom, created by Sue Conklin where Gail Hulbert Warton, dressed as a first c. Roman Christian, used power point to tell the stories of Paul, the greatest Christian missionary of the first century.
Sue also created ivy-draped "marble" Roman columns and a marketplace with "ancient" fabrics --the prize corner --prizes for bringing friends and being a visitor.
Stephanie Rohrs Hulbert directed the music, aided by her sister, Christine. These were wonderful songs, including, "They will know we are Christians by our love," "Grace Flows Down and Covers Me," "To God be the Glory" performed by the 3rd and 4th grade as puppeteers," a new song on God's Love in Jewish style, with the girls doing a Jewish folk dance and the boys playing rhythm instruments (grades 5-8), and an old standard revived, "Come into my heart, come into my heart, come into my heart, Lord Jesus....Come in today; come in to stay; come into my heart Lord Jesus." All the children learned a dance-game with a Jewish flavor. Many of the songs were taught with sign language or other motions. Stephanie also emphasized the evening's memory verse each night. There were a couple of effective puppet shows, too, by the Hulberts, Bruce, Scott, Gail and STephanie. Chrissy rattled the jail and opened the jail door for Paul and Silas --who were cute as could be in their Bible clothes.
We also had wonderful visits from Lucia and Marcus (the DeMatteos, our own acting duo) --two first c. Christians who cautioned us to be very quiet lest the guards find our church cave.
After a kids' supper for all provided by the church ladies headed by Sarah Hand, the classes rotated through the story time with Gail, a professional educator, the craft time with several ladies helping, including at least one professional education-trained Sue Conklin--they made very cute brick doorstops. They had recreation with Cory and Eva Fritch (he's a professional elem. science educator), and also Dave Simpson and John Ringger doing the jr. high recreation, and music with Hulbert and Rohrs, both professional music educators.
The Junior High had a week planned by yours truly with a Pregnancy Center RSVP (Responsible Sexual Values Program) speaker, an Afr. American lady who did a fine job with a sensitive topic. She spoke 3 days; on the first day we were in sync with the rest of the Bible School's theme and read Paul's testimony from the Bible, telling of his conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a passionate disciple. We concluded in the final session with a reflection on the persecuted church today and a Ray Vander Lann film segment that took place in the underground church in the caves of Capadocia --during the persecution by the Emperors in the early 4th century B.C. --which included quotes on the martyrs of those days. It was very moving. We also discussed why Christians are persecuted, noting that even Paul thought he was doing the right thing for Judaism by persecuting Christians --until He met Jesus on the Damascus Road. Then "he saw the light!!" And where he was once blind, now he could see!
All in all, a very enjoyable week, reinforcing faith of the faithful, and sharing the Good News of Christ with those who haven't heard.
Secular pop culture is very influential on people today --but so is the church --and we have the Holy Spirit who is greater than Satan any day --but it takes knowledge of the Word and the preaching of the Gospel to reach each future generation. We must do it.
Let us not be weary of well-doing. Next week, 19 Trail Blazers go to our church camp in Somerset, Michigan for 3 days. They will again have opportunity to hear about Christ and the challenge to run the race of faith to the finish.
It's neat to see the children of the church grow up to take their place in passing on the baton of faith. All of the VBS leaders were raised in the church and in Christian homes. We are still passing on the truth --that Jesus rose from the grave --and said all who believe this and follow Him will inherit eternal life.
Credit to Director Jenni King and her helper, Inga Wood --and all their cooperative children --8 between them --who brought many friends!
As the church loves and reaches out, so she grows!!!
"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible