Tag Archives: evangelism

A Life-Changing Moment (Part 3)

Vacation Bible School

From my viewpoint, Vacation Bible School has always seemed like organized chaos. It’s like skating on ice that’s barely frozen. You know you’re headed for disaster but you just don’t know when. I love it, but it stresses me out with all the variables, intangibles, and fickleness of the children. And yet, if the truth be known, more kids have probably come to Christ through Vacation Bible School than any other form of evangelism. It really works and kids around the world love it.

Our mission team assisted First Baptist Parras in a mission VBS at a house in a community located on the northern end of town. This meant three of the five classrooms were outside—outside where there were all kinds of things going on—all kinds of distractions. Those distractions and interruptions were all possible opportunities for the enemy to steal the attention of a child and thus rob them of their moment of salvation—or so I thought. That week was a life-changing moment for me as I witnessed God’s power in the midst of what seemed like utter confusion.

Let me give you a taste of the chaos as I witnessed it. The VBS was literally steps off a dirt street


that suddenly became a main thoroughfare every afternoon. The tan colored dust blew continually, and then one afternoon it came a monsoon—with muddy water running like a river right through the middle of the VBS. The teachers and the kids didn’t miss a beat—it didn’t seem to bother them at all.

One afternoon a dump truck stopped at the end of the house and began to back up. The backup alarm began to beep, and it beeped, and it beeped, and it kept on beeping. All of a sudden the dump bed began to raise and a load of rocks came tumbling off not ten feet away from a table filled with VBS kids. The noise of the avalanche ended as a cloud of that perpetual dust erupted and then settled over everything. The teachers and the kids didn’t miss a beat—it didn’t seem to bother them.

The Infamous “Ice Cream Man”

But, the biggest interruption of the week happened every afternoon at the exact same moment. You could set your watch by him—with him  being the “Ice Cream Man from Hell” as I know affectionately refer to him. Each evening he would show up with his ice cream cart and park it about 5 feet from the edge of the little kids’ table. And then…he would ring his infernal little bell every so often. It was one of those moments where I wished I knew just a few words in Spanish. But, the teachers and the kids didn’t miss a beat—it didn’t seem to bother them at all.

The things I saw as interruptions were nothing more than moments in life for these people. They were there for one purpose and that was to show the kids the love of Jesus Christ. In the dust, the mud, the beeping, and the bell ringing, God showed up. What seemed like chaos and confusion to me was nothing more than another opportunity for him to demonstrate the power of the Gospel and its ability to change lives. Eight kids and two adults met Jesus alongside that dusty road busy with movements of everyday life.

God reminded me that he could work in any situation where his people are faithful to proclaim and demonstrate his love. He is not limited to moments of silence and quiet introspection. He’s God! The interruptions of the enemy may disrupt us, but they never disrupt God. I’ve come away from this experience with a deeper appreciation for God’s power and love. He is the order in chaos—clarity in confusion—the life that changes the moment—the unlimited One erasing our own self-imposed limits. He’s God.

He is God, and I am not. Therefore, there really is no such thing as a disruption, an interruption, or chaos that can challenge the presence and the power of God. Once you come to grips with that my friend, you encounter a life-changing moment!

Dumpster Diving

The Dump (notice the buzzards lined up along the top of the hill)


Recently, I made a trip to the dump to jettison our bi-monthly garbage collection. My outings to the local landfill are always an adventure since I am still a kid at heart. Three things utterly fascinate me about the dump: the size of the machinery rumbling around pulverizing the garbage, the sheer number of turkey buzzards lurking on the outskirts awaiting mealtime, and the remote possibility that I might find something useful that has been discarded (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or so the saying goes).

As I was offering my rather large sacrifice of big, black Hefty bags on this mountain of refuse, I seemed to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit telling me to look around and pay attention to the scene unfolding. You may be thinking, what’s to see—it’s the dump already. Sacks of rubbish were being shredded and pulverized by the tracks of the large dozer as it methodically ran back and forth across the crest of the pile. Crumpled cans, punctured plastic jugs, broken glass, and a paper menagerie of every shade and color surrendered to crushing force of that relentless Caterpillar D-9. The tortured terrain was otherworldly—sort of like a scene after the Apocalypse.

To make the landscape even more uninviting, a horde of vultures surrounded the perimeter, just out of harm’s way, waiting for the precise moment when the machine stopped compacting so they could begin dining on a smorgasbord of rubbish. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a turkey buzzard up close, but they are big, ugly, and intimidating. They don’t walk—they hop, and here at this dump, they don’t fly unless they are forced to. They just wait…and wait…and wait for something dead.

Standing there on the bed of my old truck I let the scene my eyes were seeing ruminate in my mind, and then it sank like a rock into my spirit. This mountain of debris is the world Jesus came to visit in the Incarnation. This pile of compost is the place we make our home. God created a garden and we traded that divine domain for a rubbish pit. Not a very appealing picture I know, but an appropriate one nonetheless.

It was then the Holy Spirit reminded me of something. What he was teaching me was not an environmental lesson about being a better steward of the earth, but a spiritual lesson so that I might open my eyes and see the reality around me. Every day, we walk through a garbage dump littered with the lives of broken and crushed people. Scattered all around us are the wounded and the hopeless—trash in the minds of some, but treasured in the heart of God. Men and women crushed by the unpredictable tracks of life and hammered by their own mistakes and choices. The scene was ghastly as it unfolded. I could hear their groans and theirs silent cries for help.

In the midst of the ghoulish landscape stood the enemy and his henchmen patiently awaiting that moment when they could swoop in and hell’s jaws would engulf another helpless soul. I was reminded of how Jesus used the city dump of Jerusalem in the Valley of Gehenna to illustrate hell—the place where the worm never died and the flames were never extinguished. His illustration took on life as my senses were overloaded with the sights, sounds, and smells before me.

In that moment, I realized as followers of Christ, our responsibility is not to add to the amount of garbage already on the pile, but to fish out those who have been abandoned, or crushed, or shattered and left for dead on this rubbish heap on which we live. This is not our home—this is our mission field. Jesus plucked us out from beneath the crushing weight of sin, healed our hearts, implanted his Spirit within us, gifted us, and commanded us to be dumpster divers. We are heaven’s treasure hunters sent out to scour the pits, the piles, and the pigsties for those who are beloved of God.

My future visits to the dump will never be the same. What about yours?