written by Alicia Israel
It has become a tradition for VBS (Vacation Bible School) at CCMC to end on a high with all the youth volunteers gathering on stage at Wesley Hall to sing “Counting on God”. When this was sung to conclude the camp this year, the lyrics summed up my VBS journey with the Lord.
VBS is a highly anticipated event on both the CCMC and MGS calendar since its inception seven years ago. Since becoming a VBS volunteer six years ago, I know how important this camp is for the younger generation. Thus, when Siew Lin, (our Sunday school superintendent) approached me two years ago to ask if I would prayerfully consider helming VBS due to changes within our church, it was with a sense of trepidation that I agreed to it, placing my trust in God to see me through it.
Pictures by Tim Tham
Moments of self-doubt, frustration and despair were aplenty during my first year of organising VBS as I wanted to make VBS “perfect” given this would be the first onsite camp after Covid. Lo and behold, four days before commencement of VBS camp last year, I had a retinal detachment that prevented me from being at the camp. I was shattered! Feeling like Moses not being allowed to enter the Promised Land after leading the Israelites out of Egypt, I found myself in a dilemma – being angry with God that I could be in this situation, yet needing him to heal me! The camp proceeded according to plan as the wonderful and supportive VBS core team members stepped up to run it by the Grace of God.
Receiving messages, videos, and pictures of the children praising and worshipping God, even accepting Him as Savior from the VBS team uplifted my spirit. Slowly but surely, I began to see God using these children’s testimonies to remind me of the purpose of this camp and who He is. This realisation brought a barrage of emotion within me - guilt, shame, and gratitude.
When I was asked again if I would be able to organise VBS for this year, I readily said yes for I knew God was giving me another opportunity to helm His camp for Him! Despite having more issues to deal with this year, my heart was filled with joy and peace each day while organising the camp. I felt God’s presence right from the beginning of the preparation process. He is with me - encouraging, guiding, and strengthening me. I thought I would miss camp yet again as I had a fever the night before camp started. I prayed and asked God if He wanted someone else to carry on His camp and I would submit to His plan. The fever passed and God showed me that He is not asking for perfection but for me to trust Him. When the first day ended, I cried tears of joy for the Lord had accepted my thanksgiving offering.
As the camp progressed, the volunteers rejoiced when reading notes of the children’s daily reflections on how they would honour God in their thoughts and actions. A child shared her drawing with a volunteer of her vision from God which showed her small hand being held in Jesus’s big hand, reminding her that Jesus is with her no matter what. Another special moment was when a pre-believer child gave me a handwritten note with “Jesus loves us” and told me that she loves Jesus. My heart leapt with joy when a pre believer volunteer asked for a bible when the camp concluded! This instantaneous joy we experience is what makes serving the Lord so fulfilling and rewarding. God is working not only in the hearts of the 180 children we had at this camp, but also the hearts of the 120 volunteers involved. Filling each one with hope and love. He is showing us - His love is for everyone!!
Pictures by Tim Tham
This year's VBS theme was so apt for me personally - after all the twists and turns, I finally got to see and participate. Just as the teachers at VBS had been teaching the children, God is reminding me - He is Holy and do not be afraid. I may have taken multiple steps backward on my faith journey with the Lord last year, but this year I was given a second chance to advance on to having a much closer relationship with our gracious and merciful Lord. Indeed, I am experiencing Joy unspeakable that won’t go away and just enough strength to live for today, so I never will have to worry what tomorrow will bring, because my faith is on solid rock, I am counting on God- my VBS (Victorious Beautiful Saviour).