Monday, June 23, 2014

Riding the Fire Truck

submitted by Kerry Patton

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”   Romans 10:14-15

Today: Agent D3 – Discover, Decide, Defend
Watching the two hundred or so children in the Worship Center for Vacation Bible School this year was so exciting!  The platform had been set up to resemble a Special Agent communication center with computer monitors, colored lights, and telephones.  It was all marvelously done.

The assembly had not yet started.  Over the sound system was playing just about every Secret Agent theme song from the 1960’s forward, and sections of the seating area had been divided into grade levels and indicated by signage which displayed a human finger print and whatever school grade had been assigned to sit there. 

Shortly, volunteers would flood the platform, a themed praise song would start and the children would sing at the top of their lungs about how Jesus was “more than just a man…” I was a little jealous to not be joining the children in their classes to see how the week’s teaching would unfold.

Back in the day…
My mind raced back to June, 1970.  The town was Sundown, Texas.  My dad was the pastor of a church there and we were launching Vacation Bible School on a Monday morning.  It’s about 8:00 in the morning and VBS will start only an hour later.  My older sister and I were already at the church with our parents and the other volunteers…and their children.  There is bustling, and hurrying to get everything ready…because shortly, something very exciting would take place.  I didn’t know what it was.

One adult asked if “Gene was back with the truck yet.” Another replied: “No, not yet.”  I didn’t know what truck.  I asked, but got no reply.  “Just wait and see!” I was told.  Shortly, there it was.  The LOUD wail of a fire truck siren, and it was close…it was REALLY close.  I had heard it before to be sure, but never that close.  The heart beating in my five year old chest leapt with excitement!  My mother took my sister Melissa and I by the hands and led us out the front door of the church where we were joined by probably a half dozen other children. 

Parked there just against the curb was (to a five year old boy) the ENORMOUS, GIGANTIC, and INCREDIBLY HUGE, big red fire engine of the Sundown Volunteer Fire Department.  Church member (and evidently – member of the Fire Department) Gene Nugent was sitting in the driver’s seat.  He hit the siren and our hands flew to our ears!  This was pure excitement!

With a wave of his hand, Gene told us all to get on board.  I headed toward the cab, but was ushered by my mother toward the back of the truck.  There, another parent was handing children up to the top of where the fire hoses had all been neatly folded.  Once we were all aboard and surrounded by adults, away we went…off to drive through the neighborhoods of Sundown.  Gene would hit the siren and the adults had us all chanting: “Come to Vacation Bible School!  Come to Vacation Bible School!!” 

It was magical…AND effective.  Children poured out of the houses to see what all the noise was about.  The banners taped to the sides of the truck detailed the where, and when that parents needed to know to have their kids attend the morning VBS sessions.  After about a 45 minute ride, the truck returned to the church and we all went inside.  Now, with only a few minutes until VBS started, the sanctuary had already begun to fill with my classmates and friends from school.  In the church kitchen, several ladies were beginning to get supplies in order for the snacks that would be served later in the morning.

Gratitude for All You Do
I am so very thankful for all of the men and women who make Vacation Bible School happen here at North Side Baptist Church.  I’m told they number well over one hundred.  “How beautiful are the feet…” the Bible says, of those who bring good news.  While the technologies of VBS have changed…nowadays featuring video, highly polished full-production theme songs, and coordinated age level learning materials…the HEART of VBS is the same.  It has never changed.  It is Christ-filled women and men giving up their time, and for some – their vacation time, and energy to share the basics of the Christian faith with our children.  Your children and my children… Words cannot express how much your contribution to make it happen means to me.  But I believe you understand.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  May the Lord Jesus richly bless you for giving your time, attention, and care to the lives of our kids!  Thank you, for ‘Climbing up onto the fire truck,’ and making it all happen.

Almighty God, we are all so thankful for those faithful women and men you used to bring us up in the faith.  Bless these who served and gave of their time O Lord.  And water the seeds of faith planted into the hearts and lives of the children.  Bring about a great harvest of salvation, faith, and service because of these who were willing to work in the fields.  Help us O Lord, to be that siren in our neighborhoods, in our market places, that invites others to come and see that the Lord is good!  In Jesus’ name we pray,   Amen.

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