I spent much of my childhood in hiding. Neighbors would often find me hiding in the bushes behind their homes, under porches, or in the nearby woods. It was safer to be outdoors than to be at home. Our home environment was unstable, often vacillating between anger, apathy, and abuse. By trying to make myself invisible, I could avoid the turmoil that made our home a frightening place.
When I was seven years old a friend invited me to attend Vacation Bible School at a local church. The message of Jesus’ sacrifice and unconditional love touched my heart. I couldn’t get enough of it. It was hard to believe that Jesus could love me. . . me, a frightened child who felt unwanted and unlovable.
I started attending church every Sunday. Compassionate church members would give me a ride or pick me up when they saw me walking on the road. Later that year I won a Bible for perfect attendance. I couldn’t believe that someone noticed that I was there. Winning the Bible affirmed my significance as a child of God. Through the members of that church I began to recognize the perfect love and sacrifice of Jesus. I began to believe that my life had value and that I could become a whole and happy person.
Vacation Bible School started me on a path toward recovery and healing. The volunteers didn’t know that they were saving my life. They were serving the Lord with grace and humility. It takes many volunteers to support our Vacation Bible School and Children’s Ministries at Heart of the Rockies. I wonder if you know how much impact your lessons and care have on the children you touch. I know because I was one of them many years ago.
Written by Judy Chapman, who current serves as the chair of our spiritual leaders, the Elders.