Reaching our Community One Person at a Time

During the month of June, as a part of our yearlong emphasis on “connection,” we have been emphasizing the need to connect with our community. Scripture clearly commands local churches to be a faithful gospel witness in their “Jerusalem.” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:1 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand.” As a church, we are called to proclaim the gospel to our community. There can be no proclamation of the gospel, however, if we fail to engage those who live in close proximity to us. Effectively preaching the gospel to others requires us to connect with individuals living in our community.

One of the ways Grace Baptist Church tries to connect with our community each year is through our Vacation Bible School ministry. Through this community connection, we are afforded the opportunity of proclaiming the gospel to many boys and girls. At the time of writing this article, we have already completed our first night of VBS. The turnout was amazing for the opening night, and I praise the Lord for the privilege of ministering to our community through this annual event. There was a buzz in the room as the kids came into the fellowship hall. The excitement was contagious, and the energy was refreshing.

While pondering the first evening of our VBS, I was greatly encouraged by four observations that I made on the opening night.

First, I was greatly encouraged by the number of people I didn’t recognize. Admittedly, I don’t know all of our school families, and some of the people I didn’t recognize may fall into that category. I got the sense, however, that some of the families in attendance were on our campus for the very first time. As I was greeting people on the first night of VBS, I overheard one mother say to another lady, “I’m so thankful this church is having Bible school this week. I saw the sign and was thrilled my kids could come.” I had never met that lady before, and I’m not sure I could even pick her out of a crowd if I saw her again. But, I am thankful that we were given the privilege of ministering to her kids. I don’t know her children, and I can’t say what impact our VBS had on this lady’s family, but I praise the Lord they heard the gospel.

Secondly, I was greatly encouraged to see the army of Grace members who were working together to make VBS a success. As usual, a large number of volunteers invested time and talent into our VBS. Some were involved in set-up, others snacks, some handled crafts, there were teachers, sound guys, a visual team, penny counters, team leaders, helpers, and many other unsung heroes. I was especially thrilled to see some of our new members throwing themselves into the ministry alongside our more seasoned veterans. Everywhere I looked I saw the smiling faces of our people serving the children of our community for the Lord Jesus Christ. As a church, we invested the week impacting our community one child at a time.

Thirdly, I was greatly encouraged by the number of teen workers who were laboring alongside the adults serving and assisting the kids. We could not have managed all of the children who attended that first night without the help of our teenagers. I will be bold and name one young lady who understood the importance of ministering to our community one child at a time. There was a little girl I didn’t recognize crying pretty hysterically. Kaitlyn Ramsey, one of our teenagers, had that young lady on her lap trying to comfort her. Kaitlyn was patiently doing her best to calm the little girl down. Kaitlyn looked like a professional teacher ministering to the needs of that scared little girl. In the name of Jesus, Kaitlyn compassionately offered comfort to a little girl for the glory of God. Kaitlyn was patient, loving, and kind to a child in need. There were many other teenagers who were helping as well. Not observing. Not playing around. Serving our community by serving the children God brought to our VBS. These teenagers were ministering to one child at a time for the glory of God.

Lastly, I was encouraged to see Jonathan and Leah Highfill as the missionaries our kids are raising money for this year. Each penny that was brought to Vacation Bible School will go the Highfill’s ministry. To see a young man who was raised in the ministry of Grace Baptist Church standing in front of a room full of children telling them about the field of Knysna, South Africa was a blessing to my heart. As I listened to Jonathan telling the kids about his family’s call to the field of South Africa I was praying, “Lord, call another one.” There may have been a little boy or girl sitting in that room on the first night of our VBS that will one day stand before our church and say, “The Lord called me into missions during VBS in the Spring of 2017.” There may be others who will say, “I came to know Jesus as my Savior at VBS in the Spring of 2017.” I pray that the Highfill family will not be the last “homegrown” family to go to the mission field from our church. We must continue to minster to one child at a time for the glory of God.

By the time this article is published, our Vacation Bible School will be over until next June. But, God’s command to connect with our community will not be completely fulfilled. What will you do in the coming days to reach our community for Christ? In many ways separating from our community is much easier than engaging it. It takes a large investment of time and energy to impact people with the gospel, but there are eternal rewards for seeing lives changed. I pray that each of us would be faithful in our attempts to connect with our community for the sake of the gospel. We must connect with our community one child, one teenager, one man, and one woman at a time for the glory of God. 

Jay Knolls