July 15 – What VBS@LPC Matters and Ernesto is One of Us!

Cave Quest

Kay Brown, who staffs our Children’s Ministry team, calls LPC’s week of Vacation Bible School her favorite week of the year. It is a wonderful week.

VBS returns to LPC Monday morning, and we are ready to welcome the kids and all the leaders, and to make room for what God intends to do in, through, and among us. It is a wonderful week.

Kay has compiled some numbers that tell a bit of the story of our excitement about the week. It is a wonderful week.

As of Thursday afternoon, we 107 pre-school through fifth grade students have been registered for next week’s program of songs, lessons, games, snacks, and crafts. VBS Director Tara Dampman will be joined by 58 adult and youth volunteers who will add God’s love to the songs, lessons, games, snacks, and crafts. It is a wonderful week.

Of those 107 currently registered kids:

  • 76 are children who do not yet attend LPC
  • 20 will be with us because caring LPC grandparents are making the effort to share the stories of Jesus with their grandchildren through VBS
  • 46 of the total are brand-new to VBS at LPC!

Our program does not end with elementary age students. In addition to the 107 currently registered elementary age students, at least 25 middle school students will be with us next week, as well.  15 of the 25 registered middle schoolers are new to LPC. Ed White’s leadership team includes six caring and enthusiastic adults in addition to Ed. It is a wonderful week.

The numbers? As of Thursday, 132 students and 65 adults. And there is still room for more. All classes except the pre-school class can take a few more students. So, with Monday’s walk-ins, we could be close to 150 students and 65 adults; well over 200 men, women, youth, and children, each loved by God and each called to experience God’s love through VBS.  It is a wonderful week.

That’s the point. In terms of attendance, this year’s VBS promises to be the largest in years. But the numbers won’t count if each of those 150 or so students does not leave the week having heard about God’s love and having experienced just a bit of that love through the adults and youth who lead the programs. It is a wonderful week.

Work, vacation, and other responsibilities will keep some of us from experiencing VBS first hand. But all of us can have a part in the success of the week. Whether it is on your weekday commute or as you eat breakfast or do your morning devotionals, please pray for VBS. Pray that God will use the songs, lessons, games, snacks, and crafts – and the leaders that lead them – to remind each child that he loves them.

It is going to be a wonderful week.


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I’ve told a little bit of Ernesto’s story before. First in December of 2013, and then again this past September.  Ernesto was born a Cuban, but as of Tuesday, July 12, 2016, he is a citizen of the United States of America.

Ernesto grew up in a village in the hills west of Havana.  His life was simple. In the 1980s he served in the army during Cuba’s involvement in the civil war in Angola, Africa. His life in Cuba after being discharged from the army was not easy, and he is no fan of the Castro brothers. Eight years ago, a bought passage on a small boat headed to Florida, and made it to the U.S. and to friends from his childhood village who now live in New Jersey.

I don’t know the details of Ernesto’s legal journey, but I know he ended up working in the poultry processing industry in Arkansas. He had to return to New Jersey from time to time to deal with immigration issues, and that is how I first met him. LPC put him up in cheap motel for a couple of nights and helped him with bus fare to Newark. More than that, Ernesto and I became friends. He returned to say hello last September when he received his green card, and then on Monday, he came by to say that he was to become a citizen of the United States on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. “God bless America,” he said. He means it. And he knows that God is the one who does the blessing.

Now that he is a citizen, Ernesto plans on returning to his job in the poultry processing industry in Arkansas. He says he likes the work and that he likes Arkansas, except for the tornados. Ernesto also hopes to bring his adult daughter to the U.S. She doesn’t care much for Castro’s Cuba.

I don’t know the details of Ernesto’s journey to U.S. citizenship, but I am glad he made it. And I am glad that he is one of us. The United States of America will be better for having Ernesto as one of us.

See you Sunday