Breana's Story, Children at Risk DTS student
At first glance it looked like the beginning of our second week of VBS was absolutely perfect. The kids, ages 2-18, were surprisingly quiet and behaved. My team did a great job sharing stories and the lesson, acting in skits, and doing crafts.
But why did I feel like I had failed those kids? I wanted this week to be special with them but something was missing.
I thought back to my own experiences in VBS as a kid. What meant the most to me was when the staff got to know me and loved me. I knew I needed to do that with these kids, too, but I wasn't sure how. So I asked God to give me his perspective and show me what he felt for each one of the children.
After I did that, I felt like I wore a brand new pair of glasses. The shift in my perspective changed my heart and approach to working with this group of kids. They didn't need a perfectly run program, they just wanted someone to love them. I found myself constantly asking, “How does God see this boy?” “What does he want to do through this girl?” “What does he want to accomplish through me?”
I shared my thoughts with our team and we all agreed to dedicate ourselves to really getting to know the kids this week. We scratched the plans we had made and came up with something totally new! We focused on hands-on activities that would let us build friendships.
We made animals, crazy hats, and swords with balloons. We made a cardboard fort, blew bubbles, and drew with chalk. The kids sang along to our songs and did silly motions with us. And some even helped lead the songs, belting out the lyrics into the microphone. On the very last day, we stuffed a piñata with candy and laughed with the kids as they tried to crack it open.
One boy in particular stood out to me from the very first day: 12-year-old Isaiah. He reminded me a lot of myself. The pastor had adopted him, giving him a place to live and, more importantly, to be loved. Isaiah and I clicked right away. He teased me and pestered me like a little brother. One day, he even arrived before VBS began, hopped in our van, and said he would be on my team for the day.
The last day of VBS, Isaiah sat beside me. He rested his head on my shoulder as we listened to the Gospel message.
“God, give me more time with this boy!” I pleaded. Goodbyes have always been hard for me, and Isaiah didn't make it any easier.
Seeing him one last time at church Sunday wouldn't be enough. I didn't know how I'd be able to leave him. Sunday came and I couldn't focus during the service. All I could think about was the kids we had gotten to know so well during VBS. My heart hurt.
“You don't have to go with your team,” Isaiah said for the tenth time. “You can stay right here!”
Isaiah walked us to our van, giving rib-crushing hugs to everyone.
I kept the tears in check until I looked back. There was Isaiah, standing in the empty parking lot, waving goodbye.
I will never forget Isaiah. I hope to see him again and hear what God is continuing to do in his life. I'm so glad we stopped and listened to God in the beginning. I'm glad God shared his heart with us. Even though it hurts to say goodbye, it was worth it to really see these kids. They're going to be world changers. I just know it!