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Slovakia 2019: When Things Change

July 1, 2019

It was hot in Martin today.

We kicked off the first day of Vacation Bible School in Martin this morning. Almost 200 children were here. But before we headed over to the CCE to meet the kids, we gathered for breakfast and devotions at our hotel. The second reading from the Daily Texts was from James: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom” (James 3:13).

Gentleness born of wisdom.

Today went as well as any first day of VBS I’ve ever seen. There were bumps and changes along the way, but that’s life. Our mission team members were rock stars. Groups were always where they were supposed to be. The energy was overwhelming, in spite of temperatures in the nineties.

As we closed our day, Pastor Emily called us back to James’ words about gentleness, asking us where we saw God today. There was no shortage of affirmation for team members from other team members, but most of the comments focused on how the children shared gentle wisdom for one another:

  • The Slovak children who invited the American girls (Aubrey and Greta) into their teams for an activity rather than excluding them
  • The middle school helper who gave up her team-colored t-shirt so that a younger child wouldn’t feel left out
  • The teenager who accompanied his younger sister, a beautiful person with Down syndrome, so that she could fully participate

We so often imagine that the key to transforming the world, or even just our lives, is strength. Try harder. Do more. Well, no.

Maybe the thing that will change the world isn’t strength but gentleness. And maybe it’s not about ideas but relationships. Maybe, just maybe, when we are gentle toward one another in Jesus’ name, we can change the world in a way that strength never will.

We are not alone in this work. Our Bible verse for the day at VBS was Hebrews 13:5: “For God has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.'” The gentleness to which we are called, with which we are gifted, is the same gentleness of Jesus. It is a gift that flows to us from the One who gave himself up to death instead of fighting back. In his weakness we find true strength – the strength and courage to be gentle to one another.

Oh, and the songs went well. Thanks for asking! 😉 When I told the kids that we were going to sing “My Lighthouse,” well, I think that’s what Jimmy Page must feel like when he plays the opening lick to “Black Dog.” But I digress.

I will never cease to be amazed at how little kids, who don’t read their own language or speak mine, will jump right into learning songs with actions. They have no inhibitions. Just faith. And just another example of how the littlest among us can lead us in faithfulness. Maybe, just maybe, God is reminding us to make space for children. Maybe – no, definitely – there is no reason to cage the littlest among us. Why fear their gentleness? Why build walls of false strength? Yes, even in Slovakia, much to think about as we are far from home

When things change, God is with you. That’s what we learned today. I wonder, though, if the point is that because God is with you, things will change.

I think the fire of the Holy Spirit is upon us.

It was hot in Martin today.

From → Slovakia 2019

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