Then and Now But Always the Same

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 NIV

Will There Be A Next Time For Brian?

Weary and worn was the feeling from the top of my head to the tip of my toes as Parents’ Night ended Vacation Bible School. I anticipated the wonderful feeling of my bed after a long, busy day. Though I closed my eyes, sleep did not come. The faces of forty boys and girls in my department danced in the visions of my mind. 

One little boy whose name was Brian stood out among all the rest. It was as though he had stepped from the pages of a book instead of off a church bus. He was not a handsome boy. He was from the wrong side of the tracks and his hair dirty and uncombed; his fingernails were grimy. His clothes didn’t fit and needed to go through the wash. 

Only five years old and already a smirk on his face, he didn’t know how to share. His main objective seemed to be destruction. He hit, kicked and clawed his way through a week of Bible School. There was no hope for calm with Brian around. As Friday noon came, so did my sigh of relief – It’s over!

As we cleaned the room, I discovered the lock to our supply cabinet missing. One of the teachers said, “I saw Brian with it. I asked him where he got it and he said, ‘from home.’” I shrugged my shoulders, propped the doors to, and thought, “Oh well, it’s over.”

Home for a few hours and then back again for Parents’ Night. But where were the parents? Busloads of kids poured in but only a handful of parents. Brian came in, his usual robust self. After we marched (prodded) to the auditorium, I found myself seated next to this defensive little boy. He squirmed, wiggled and asked who is that man (the pastor), why are they taking money, why this and why that. 

Brian pulled a Bible from the rack and thumbed through it upside down. He said, “Is this God’s book?” I said, “Yes” and whispered “I love you.” He grinned and asked, “Can I sit in your lap?” The love I felt in my heart for that little boy must be a glimpse of the love our Heavenly Father has for us.

Back in our room again, I remembered to ask Brian about the lock. “Brian, did you take my lock today?” He replied, “I’ll bring it back when I come next time.” 

Vacation Bible School was Brian’s first experience in our church. Will there be a next time for Brian? With a lot of strikes already against him in life, will there ever be a next time for Brian?

The misplaced lock only costs a few cents. And without the combination it will be useless to anyone. Is Christ-like love the right combination to Brian’s heart? It is my hope and prayer that it is. 

The above article was originally printed in the Albuquerque Journal on July 11, 1975. Author Unknown

Fast forward forty years. This week we had over 200 children attend Vacation Bible School at our church. Children came from all over the city. Times have changed and now we have Vacation Bible School in the evening. The church bus is no more. Instead, Nate Bruch drove one of our vans from nearby Seville Park.

Like Brian, the kids were loud and rowdy. They ran. They screamed. They came from all kinds of backgrounds and some had never set foot inside a church before. But like Brian they all came looking for one thing, love and acceptance. And they found it. They found it in the hearts of their group leaders and the many other adults who gave their time volunteering this week. They found it in the Bible stories that were shared. They found it in Pastor Trey and Ms. Kristi. They found it in the Rice Krispie sushi and Lottie Moon cookies. But most of all they found it in Jesus Christ.

Will they come back? Will there be a next time? We certainly hope so but should they never darken our doors again we pray that they will always remember this, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NIV

Thanks to Ms. Betty Danielson for providing the Journal article.

One comment

  1. I wrote the story about Brian in 1975. Our church met at Broadway and Central. We has hundred’s of children come on buses to VBS, My 5 year old class was one of two and each class had 40 or 50 children each day. This story was published in our church paper. Betty Danielson

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