Our entire trip was a blessing! The church where we stayed blessed us with true Christian hospitality. Not only did they let us invade their education wing and take over their kitchen, but they even invited us to get anything we needed for VBS from their supply closet! Angela, Debbie, and Vickey worked constantly to provide wonderful meals for us, and all the children got along beautifully, even by the time tired and cranky might have been understandable. The whole team worked together very well.
While the entire trip was a blessing, that doesn’t mean it was all easy. We had some pretty tough kids at the VBS we held for the Hispanic church Monday through Wednesday. Daniel and Jasmine, the pastor and his wife, have only recently moved to the area to begin this small church which currently has five families. The need among the children who came is great. Our numbers grew each day (60 by the end), likely because we were feeding snacks and sending lunch with the children each day. Though some may have come for physical nourishment, we hope and pray that by God’s grace, they received the seeds of eternal, spiritual nourishment.
It is heart-breaking to think of the circumstances in which many of these children live, in poverty and in the midst of gang violence. A few of the older children seemed quite hardened already while others, like Luis, seemed to wage an almost visible war between their desire to hear hope and an obvious peer pressure to follow the older, more cynical children. Luis would start out doing the motions to our music or listening to the puppet presentation and Bible story but then would glance behind or around him to see what the others were doing. I could read the struggle on his face. He wanted to participate; at least part of him wanted to hear. Honestly, he tended to go with the tougher crowd, but the hope I saw was in his hesitation to follow them. I am praying that God will fuel the desire for His hope and salvation beyond Luis’s ability to resist. There were other children who knew the answers to the questions we asked and who eagerly participated. Some just remained silent. Only God knows which way any of them will turn in the end, but some of those faces are burned into my mental prayer list, and I hope God never allows them to fade. I pray that one day we will all worship together, no hesitation, no looking around, eyes fixed only on Jesus. Amen!
Written by Mitzi Bingaman