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God Loves You No Matter What. VBS Day 1

July 4, 2022

I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. Psalm 89:2

Our first day of Vacation Bible School in Martin was a monumental success. Monumental – that’s our theme for the week, just as it was at home in River Forest (and just as it is for countless churches this summer). The week walks us through the story of Joseph. If I can sum up the scriptural witness, the point seems to be that if God can work through the mess that was Joseph’s family, and keep loving them, then surely God can and does continue to love us and work in our lives . God’s love is monumental. It’s awesome. Amazing. BIG!

Which could all seem so, I don’t know, trite. VBS-ish. Then again, the basics are the basics for a reason, and sometimes it’s good to get back to them.

The opening was electric, with the kids taking to new songs and jumping in on “At Times Like This.” Nanner nanner, and all that. Then it was off to more fun. Crafts and games, dancing and Bible time. Somehow, however, there seemed to be an extra dose of the Spirit present.

By the time we dusted off “My Lighthouse” as a closing song, it felt like the roof was going to blow off the Bible School. This fan favorite from 2018 never seems to get old, and it was awesome (monumentally so) to lead the singing after two summers away. If I could make a living leading Slovak children in English-language Bible songs, I would do it. Shining in the darkness, I will follow you!

So, back to getting back to basics. Why bother with the monumental love of God? Because other things seem big, too. The first day’s drop-off is always the hardest, with a few kids reluctant to leave their parents. This seemed especially true for the Ukrainian children who came; their mothers were reluctant, too, it seemed. And yes, it was only mothers. Their fathers are still in their homeland; it is mothers and children who have sought refuge in this new place. They don’t all trust Americans and many are wary of Christians, and we are very much both. All we can do is be with them, signs of a gracious God.

You’ll be shocked to know that Ukrainian is yet another language I don’t know, but we have some awesome translators. Song actions are a universal language (as are crafts and games and dancing). And there’s not a young child in the world who won’t kick a soccer ball with you if you’re willing to play with them. Words can come later.

The war in Ukraine is very big and oh-so-very real to these children. But God’s love and power are bigger. Bigger, too, than gun violence in our homeland (nearly our hometown) on its birthday. Kyrie eleison. Yes, if God could work in and through and for Joseph and the rest of them, God can work in and through and for us, too. As we learned today, God loves you no matter what!

This afternoon our group took the train to Banská Bystrica, another lovely town nestled in these majestic mountains. A spirit of joy is in the air tonight in anticipation of tomorrow’s major national holiday (why don’t we focus more on Sts. Cyril and Methods?). In the meantime, I’m hoping to get some monumental sleep.

The photo is of the Grace mission team today in Banská Bystrica. I was hoping to add some more pictures to this post, but the internet is wobbly and my phone and laptop are struggling to share via the cloud. Maybe I’ll do a photo dump tomorrow. It’s okay, this is not a monumental problem!

From → Slovakia 2022

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