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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Abundance (06/08/06)

TITLE: Small Offerings
By Debbie OConnor


The screams of hundreds of happy children shake the building and my nerves. Day three of Vacation Bible School, The Arctic Edge, is underway. It is only 8 a.m.; under normal circumstances, I would be sitting on my patio, enjoying a large mug of coffee. Today, I am at church, surrounded by noise.

My friend, Jackie, and I are team teaching. Although the first two days of VBS passed smoothly, neither of us feels ready today. I am weak and unfocused. When Jackie leaves the room to get supplies, I pray again. Prayer has been my only resource for this day’s classes—the curriculum seems as vague as my mind.

“Lord, when we are weak, you are strong. Our weakness cannot begin to compare with your strength. Please have your way today. Give us favor with the children and give them favor with us. Let this be more than mere fun—please touch their hearts and change their lives forever.”

I take a deep breath. I have done all I can; I trust God with the rest.

Our first class is uneventful. The second is more difficult. Little things go wrong. I stumble teaching the memory verse. A photographer comes in to shoot pictures during the story. One boy stands against a wall, swaying back and forth; another swings his name tag. Jackie struggles to keep the class focused, but vacant expressions seem to indicate failure.

Then Jackie stands up and introduces the ABC’s of salvation. “A is for accept—accept that you are a sinner. B is for believe—believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died to save you from your sin. C is for confess—confess with your mouth that you believe Jesus saved you.”

Jackie gives every child a plastic star that glows in the dark. The stars represent the light that comes into our life when we know Jesus as our savior, just like the stars that light up the day and night during the long Arctic winter.

As we prepare to pray, an eight-year-old girl named Casey raises her hand. Tears roll down her freckled cheeks. “I’m not sure I’m a Christian,” she whispers uncertainly.

Jackie’s smile is brighter than the fluorescent star she holds. “I’m so glad you told me that. All you have to do to be sure is to pray with me right now.”

Tears of joy fill my eyes as my friend and I pray with and for this little disciple as she takes her first step into God’s kingdom. In what was by far our weakest lesson, God proved himself more than sufficient to draw a small soul to His light.

Our offering was small, but God blessed it. A child drank of His abundant grace today.

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This article has been read 1290 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Pat Guy 06/15/06
This blessed my heart. Nothing is more precious and sweet than a child opening the door of their heart to Jesus. I was six.

I loved everything about this entry - especially the layered messages that fit so well into God's timing.

I really enjoyed reading and renewing these 'life' lessons.

They brought a smile to my heart. Thank you.
Lori Othouse 06/16/06
This was so touching! A sweet reminder of why we are in ministry in the first place. God bless!
Melanie Kerr 06/17/06
It is wonderful when God answers prayer. A nice picture of God's abundant goodness to us. I used not to like reading things written in the present tense - but I enjoyed this.
Sally Hanan06/17/06
This was fabulous! You drew me in immediately with something very familiar to me, and I loved the line:
Jackie’s smile is brighter than the fluorescent star she holds.
No matter where you place, this one is in my top 8 :)
Cheri Hardaway 06/17/06
Beautiful use of the present tense to draw the reader into the moment! I loved the story, and it brought back VBS days gone by. Thanks!
Crista Darr06/17/06
I love this! It is so precious, and an encouragement to all of us in ministry. We've all seen those vacant stares. His grace is sufficient! I hope this piece places. It is wonderful!
Suzanne R06/19/06
"The curriculum seems as vague as my mind." Ooh, can I ever identify! What a beautiful lesson, though, of how in our weakness, He is strong, and how abundant He is as well as is His grace. Thanks.
Maxx .06/20/06
this felt sooo real. Good job capturing the scene. I could feel the characters ... and what an ending! Great work!
Sherry Wendling06/20/06
Wonderful piece! It has an irresistible motion to it, a forward impetus, both in action and emotion, that draws the reader into the sacred beauty of the finale!
(I, too, received Jesus as a little girl...Thanks for such an enjoyable trip back in time!)
Jan Ackerson 06/21/06
Really, really good, and the last paragraph was a beautiful conclusion. I'm going to share this with our VBS leader (it starts next week) who has been a bit discouraged.
Venice Kichura06/21/06
This is fantastic!

And, it's such an encouragement to those of us working with VBS (Ours is next week).

Thanks for reminding me of the real reason for serving in VBS.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/21/06
What a powerful, well written message. I loved it.
Val Clark11/24/06
An encouraging story that rings with truth, gently and sweetly told. yeggy