When Jon registered to volunteer for VBS to be a Small Group Leader for the 5 full days, none of us knew him. He hadn't volunteered in Kids Ministry before, no one on the Kids team could remember having a conversation with him, or even meeting him.
Jon was a mystery.
Due to vacations, Jon attended our VBS training online, completed his background check and Safe Sanctuaries quickly and timely, asked good questions via email and expressed excitement and nervousness because he had never done anything like this before.
Day 1 of VBS, Jon was incredible. He jumped right in, embraced our desire for all kids to know they have a place to belong, quickly began talking about the relationships the kids in his group were forming and by Day 3, he couldn't believe how close his group was becoming.
Day 4 came and during lunch he began sharing the questions the kids in his group were asking. He was in awe of what he was able to share, talk about, and how he could guide the conversations. He asked for input, advice, and ways he could talk about faith that would make it more real for the kids.
Friday came and Jon said that it had been one of the best weeks of his life. He shared that often, during his normal, regular life, he operates under constraints when it comes to sharing his faith. He was feeling empty and a little lost and decided signing up to serve for VBS would be something out of his comfort zone and maybe, just maybe he would hear from God or at least feel closer to God again. And by the end of Day 5, Jon was amazed to share the ways he had seen God in new ways through the eyes of the kids in his group. Jon left VBS week overflowing with God's goodness and love and gratitude, thanking us for letting him be a part of the week.
I think about Jon a lot. Someone from the 'outside' being willing to step into an unknown world; searching, HOPING to see God, willing to be uncomfortable because living in the comfort wasn't working anymore. Because I've been where Jon has been. Searching. Hoping. Praying to see and feel God. And I can be tempted to wait. To wait in my comfortable place on God.
But what Jon taught me is experiencing God in a fullness to overflowing might require more. He saw God in new ways because he said yes and stepped into the unknown space of being a Small Group Leader for VBS. Jon made a difference in the lives of the kids in his group, but I think he would say the biggest difference was in himself.
What might God be asking you to step into? It might be serving with kids as a leader or co-leader, or being a part of the care team...I don't know, but what are you waiting for? If you want to discuss volunteering in Children's Ministry, please let me know. I'd love to visit with you.
Director of Kids Ministry
St. Luke's UMC