“And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.” –Exodus 16:14,15
The Israelites may not have totally understood it all, but our God had a plan to nourish them, even right in the middle of the barren wilderness. Similarly, our God has a plan to nourish the children of our day, right in the midst of a world that is largely destitute of any real knowledge of Him. Through Vacation Bible School, we will be a key part in that plan. Let us take a look into how we can learn from the manna experience as we seek to feed the children!
Commune with God
Moses knew just what was going on. How was that? He had been communing with God, asking for direction, listening for instruction. It is no different for us today. If we are to know God’s will, we must ask Him—and how vitally important this is when we are dealing with young hearts in Vacation Bible School or any children’s outreach program.
Follow the directions
Then when we understand what God’s will is, we must act as He directs. God set the manna out abundantly. He also set out some very specific directions on how it was to be gathered and distributed, so that His name would be honored and none need go away hungering.
While Vacation Bible School may not be specifically mentioned in God’s Word, the Bible has much for us to learn about ministry. Through Bible study and personal prayer, we can gather the directions. Then when we set out to distribute the sweet manna of the Word at Vacation Bible School, God’s name will be honored and every child may be satisfied.
As we know from the account in Exodus, there were the usual “testers”—the odd few who wanted to try their own variation on God’s plan. What was the result? Hunger.
Know God’s ways are not man’s ways
Just as in the wilderness, today we have set before us God’s way and “other” ways of doing things—even Christian things (to use the term loosely). Our job, then, is to study to learn what God’s way is so that, in our Vacation Bible Schools, we may intelligently and effectively present to the children Jesus. We cannot afford to send any child away hungry when the Living Bread that comes down from Heaven is so abundantly supplied.
Akin in spirit to the “testers” were the crowd of complainers—those who went longing for Egypt’s dainties, in spite of the fact that the manna was a sweet, attractive food. There are those among us, even in our day, who would rather point out the attractions of Egypt than appreciate the lovely simplicity of God’s mighty ways.
These will often be found insisting that “old-fashioned” methods will never work in the modern world, yet God’s ways are not man’s ways; time will tell that remaining firm to principle in all of our dealings will be seed to instill in the children a desire to do the same.
Manna was perfectly nourishing by the heavenly power that attended it. There was not one feeble among the children of Israel. Yet miraculous as it was, in order for the manna to do its nourishing, each person had to actually partake of God’s appointed food. God made it not only effective, but desirable.
Exodus 16:31 tells us, “It was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” There is no sin in joy! A Vacation Bible School program run according to Divine direction will be attractive to the children.
That being said, there seem to be two major temptations in arranging a Vacation Bible School program: 1) skimping for the sake of time/effort/money; and 2) leaning away from solid Biblical principles for the sake of attracting a larger audience.
It is the second temptation that I would like to go into in larger detail. Be sure to check back for Part 3 of “Let’s Feed the Children”, where we will explore some very specific areas where we may be tempted to sway from our values in regards to Vacation Bible School—and ways to uphold principle in a healthy, inviting manner for the precious children.