A Year of Smiles – Day 158


55The number of children who attended Vacation Bible School at our church this year.

The number of lives we were able to pour into and connect with.

The number of families represented and opportunities for outreach and prayer.


10The number of Bibles given to children who did not own a copy of the Word of God until this week.

The number of hearts that will be opened by the promises of the Heavenly Father and the truth of His Word.

The number of homes that will be illuminated by the message of God’s love.


6The number of children who made decisions for God.

The number of lives that will forever be changed by the life-altering truth of the Gospel.

The number of faces glowing because of the victory found in following Jesus.


These are the numbers God placed before me and my church.  He asked us to care for, to invest in, to love on and to lift up not only 55 children but also the families they represent.  He asked us to deliver His Word to 10 children who will carry God’s message to their homes and communities.  He asked us to be faithful to share His message of love and salvation and entrusted us with 6 beautiful children to nurture and lead along their journeys of following Jesus.

55 children, 10 Bibles, 6 decisions for God and countless SMILES – what more could a VBS director ask for?


This is My World

“This is my world,” says the child from the broken home.  “Me and my little brother live with my mom most of the time.  We’re supposed to see our dad every other weekend but we’re lucky to see him once a month.  We really don’t see my mom much either – she works two jobs so we can live in a good neighborhood.  She does the best she can to take care of us but sometimes she leaves us at home alone while she’s at work.  Other times, she leaves us with her boyfriend.  I’d rather stay home alone than stay with her boyfriend.  He isn’t very nice.  He drinks; he smokes and he cusses – a lot.  He doesn’t help me and my brother with anything, either.  He just watches TV and drinks his beer.  We do our best to stay out of his way.  Sometimes, my grandma and grandpa pick up me and my brother for the weekend.  At Grandma’s house, we get to swim and eat Grandma’s good cookin’.  And on Sundays they take us to church.  Church is so much fun!  We play games, sing songs and hear stories.  I don’t really understand everything about the stories but I have a great time.  Wish I could go every Sunday but mom works most weekends.  I don’t think she likes church much, either.  I asked her to explain a Sunday School story once and she told me it was a bunch of lies.  Then she yelled at Grandma and Grandpa for taking me to church.  I don’t think the people at church would lie and I wish I could hear more about this Jesus guy.  That’s why I love weekends at Grandma’s and I hate it when those weekends are over ‘cause that means I have to go back to my house….  I wish I didn’t have to go back.”

“This is my world,” says the child from the religious home.  “My house is pretty busy.  My mom and dad both work.  I play soccer and baseball and my big sister, well, she talks on her phone a lot.  We do a lot of things at church, too.  Mom teaches Sunday School, and Dad is on just about every committee there is.  I’m in the children’s choir and I go to RAs.  My sister is in the youth group and she’s on the drama team.  Yeah, we do all that church stuff, but sometimes I can’t figure out why.  Mom and Dad really don’t talk much about God at home.  I’ve never seen them read their Bible except when they are sitting in church.   And my parents always seem to fight on Sunday mornings – I think it’s because it’s the only time they are together all week.  I don’t know…  But no one would ever guess my parents had been fighting just two seconds before those church doors open every Sunday.  They smile and shake hands with everybody just like nothing is wrong.  My RA leader says that we should tell God about our problems and he always asks us to share our prayer requests with the group.  I want to ask for prayer for my parents and for me but I’m afraid I’d be in trouble if I did.  So I just talk to God the best way I know how.  Hope He’s listening.  Oh yeah, there’s one thing I’ve been wondering.  Are all Christians like my parents?”

“This is my world,” says the child from the hopeless home.  “Dad left before I was born and mom couldn’t take care of me.  I’ve lived with different relatives over the years but no one wants to keep me.  They say I’m a discipline problem.  I really don’t try to get into trouble but somehow I always do.  It’s like I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people all the time.  I don’t have many friends because I’ve never lived in one place long enough to make any.  My aunt that I’m staying with now says I should try to meet new people, better people.  So, I tried to sit by this girl on the bus today.  She looked at me like I was some sort of disease and put her backpack in the empty seat next to her so I couldn’t sit down.  I thought she’d be a good friend, ya’ know – a good influence – ‘cause she’s one of those church people.  I’ve heard her talking with the other kids on the bus about her Bible club.  Well, she’s just like everyone else, only interested in being your friend if you’re smart, pretty or live in a certain neighborhood.  I don’t need her and I don’t need her Bible, her church or her God.  God’s never done anything for me anyway!”

“This is My world,” says the Father of our eternal home.  “I made this world, filling it with every living creature, every plant, every tree and with every man, woman and child.  I made this world to share with each of you and for you to share with each other.  I did not intend for you to be alone in this world.  So I created each of you to help one another, to encourage one another, to support one another, to love one another and to embrace one another.  But you choose to walk separate paths with your gaze set upon your own desires, never distracted by the neighbor who is in need or the child who is hurting.  You build walls around the world you now claim as your own – walls that keep out and walls that keep in.  This is still my world and my children are begging for your attention.  They need to know you love them, that I love them.  They need you to tell them of my Son.  Have you forgotten my gift to you?  Have you forgotten His sacrifice?  He lived with you, ate supper with you and prayed with you.  He fed you when you were hungry.  He healed you when you were broken.  He restored you when you were discarded.  He gave His Life for you when you were undeserving.  My Son left His world to change yours.  Won’t you do the same for my children?”

Do They See Jesus in Me?

I saw you the other day standing alone under a bridge.  You were watching the cars zoom past you while you were having a conversation with yourself.  No one waved to you.  No one stopped to see if you were okay – no one, including me.

I watched you at the street corner as I sat at a traffic light.  You were a new face at this busy intersection.  The sign you were holding read, “Hungry disabled veteran.”  I had three boxes full of leftovers from my birthday dinner.  I did not offer anything.

I passed you in the school parking lot yesterday morning.  Our children played together at a local play area last week, yet you walked right past me as if you did not recognize me.  You did not say, “Hello.”  You did not even acknowledge my presence.  But, I did not speak to you, either.

You were struggling with your baby and all her baby things.  As you were leaving the restaurant, I heard something hit the ground.  I turned to see a baby bottle lying beside my seat.  The gentleman at the next table offered help while I continued my lunch conversation.

I wonder how many times I have passed you by without a glance, without a thought.  How many times have you crossed my path without my recognition?  How many times have I accused you of self-centeredness when I was the one who neglected to reach out to you?  Can I count the times?  Can you?

Have I become so selfish that I no longer recognize your face?  Am I so blind that I no longer see your need and so deaf that I no longer hear your cries?  Yes!  I am engrossed in my own desires, my own life and my own world to such a degree that I see nothing but what is mine.  And still I wonder where you are when I am in need.  Surely, you are thoughtful enough to remember me!

I was not intended to live life this way; I was not meant to close my eyes to the world around me, to live in seclusion and to seek my own satisfaction no matter the cost to others.  I was created to share, to fellowship, to touch, to help, to heal, to love.  Still, when I saw you hungry and thirsty, I did not feed you.  When I saw you homeless and shivering, I did not shelter you.  When I saw you sick and in prison, I did not help you.  Very little effort was required – a smile, a wave, a hug, a word – but I could not be bothered.  I failed you and I failed the One who sent me to you.

I saw you standing along the roadside.  You were having a conversation but this time, you were not alone.  A man was holding your hands in his as he said a prayer for you….

That should have been me.

The Second Mile

Have you ever looked up the word outreach in the dictionary?

“Why would I?” you ask.  We, as Christians, certainly know what outreach is.  We talk about it all the time.  We plan events; we raise money; we go on mission trips.  We live out the meaning, right?

Well, I opened up my dictionary the other day, so to speak (I actually “googled” the word on the internet) and what I found was enlightening.



1. The act of reaching out;

2. The extending of services or assistance beyond current or usual limits;


1. To surpass in reach;

2. To go too far.

What?  Beyond usual limits?  Going too far

I once had the privilege of hearing Dan Cathy, President and CEO of Chick-fil-A, speak on the secret to the company’s success.  The objective of Chick-fil-A is to create raving fans in everything they do through operational excellence, emotional connection and “Second-Mile Service”.  According to Mr. Cathy, operational excellence will build a profitable business but the emotional connections with people and the “Second-Mile Service” is what makes a business a success.  He then applied these three principals to our ministry.  Everything we do should be done with excellence to bring glory to the Lord but the connections we make with others and going that second mile as Jesus describes in Matthew 5:41 is what grows the Kingdom of God.

Have you gone “beyond your usual limits” lately?  I’d love to hear about it.  How do you make connections with those around you?  What creative ways are you employing to invite neighbors or co-workers to church?  Maybe your stories and ideas will encourage others to walk that second mile.