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The Power Behind Powerlab

Why would two women who have children (and one on the way), husbands, and home projects volunteer to commit several months of time to plan Vacation Bible School (VBS)? Many people will remember the long, humorous emails from Leah Treen or the detailed opportunities to serve from Michelle Sullins during last fall’s Southwood 300. Leah (LT) and Michelle (MS) responded to questions about their calling to serve the church in this large endeavor June 9-12. Their answers reflect humor and hearts that are tender to serving the church by using the gifts they have been given.

Why would moms with very busy lives volunteer to chair VBS?

MS: My daughter Emma’s 9th birthday is the first day of VBS.  I am hoping to convince her that this is all just a really big birthday party for her. Seriously, I firmly believe that when we were kids, someone served us through VBS.  Back then, to work in VBS, you had to do it all.  You had to teach the lesson, lead the singing, and glue pine cones into the shape of some Bible character all while trying to be Jesus to your group of 45 kids.  Today, things are so different, so much easier for us to serve.  The one thing that has not changed is that we are setting the example for the next generation.  I want my children to see me serving and enjoying it because I want there to be people to serve my grandchildren and great-grandchildren as they go to VBS.

LT: I can trace my volunteering this year and last year directly to sermons from Mike. Last year I noticed that the “ad” for the much needed VBS director had been in the bulletin for weeks and thought that I might be able to do it but always just assumed that someone else would step up and take the job. Then Mike preached a sermon on using your gifts and I was convicted. Also, I’ve stood up during every infant baptism and said that I would help raise those children. When this opportunity came up and I saw that it fit my gift, I decided to do as I promised during those baptisms. This year, I had been wavering about whether or not I was going to sign up as I had committed to it last fall not expecting to be in this stage of pregnancy at the time. I was tempted to quit, but Mike preached a sermon about service requiring sacrifice and how it may not always be comfortable. The fulfillment of knowing that what we accomplish (through the Holy Spirit) at the end of VBS will be worth the hours of labor, prayer, frantic phone calls and endless emails.

What do you love about VBS?

MS: I love that VBS is all about Jesus, kids and having fun. What could be better than that?  I love those cheesy picture frames and the loud songs. I love getting to act crazy with these kids in a setting that is totally different from Sunday.

LT: The thing that I love the most is that I feel like I am fighting for the souls of children.

What do you remember about VBS as a child?

MS: I remember the lemonade and those little cookies they always served with the hole in the middle that you stuck your finger through. We always had these really great songs that we never sang any other time.  I also remember lots of crafts made out of toilet paper and paper towel rolls. Mostly I remember watching my dear aunt who had no children work at VBS every year, not because she had to, but because she enjoyed it. That is really a picture of Jesus.  Serving out of a love for others, not just serving your own little circle. In fact that precious woman will be here this year and serving at our VBS. She will be serving little cookies with holes in the middle in the volunteer snack room.

LT: I have not one single memory of VBS as a child. I want my children (and their friends) to have a completely different experience. I have told people that I am currently carrying my future VBS Director replacement in my womb and she is in training from utero. I love the fact that before this baby ever breathes air or sees my face, she will hear the Lord’s ministry taking place all around her and be a part of something bigger than any one person - part of something eternal! Our children are the future of our faith.

What is the best part about being a co-chair?

MS: There is someone to share the blame. If we blow the church up with our experiments then I will have someone to talk to in jail. Being a co-chair with Leah is great because we have become good friends. This time last year I did not have a clue who Leah was. I met her because she directed VBS last year. She came at the last minute, took on this huge project and did it with humor. I love funny people and she has a heart for kids learning about Jesus so she had me with her tie-dyed pants.

LT: The thing I love the most is that my co-chair is Michelle! She is strong where I am weak, she has a heart for children’s ministry and she’s hard core.

What is unique about the teachers or people who help?

MS: We apparently have several church members who like the thought of explosions on church property. Seriously, the people who serve in children’s ministry amaze me. We have these wonderful people who don’t even have children in VBS anymore but they come and serve. They sit in the floor and listen to the story about a child’s puppy for the 8th time and care. They give hugs, they wipe noses, they hold hands. We have people who serve who have never been married or had children of their own. Wow! We have people with teenagers that still will sit on the floor and hear these Bible stories for the hundredth time. One teenager requested to be with a group of 1st grade girls because she has had them every year they have been at VBS. We have a surgeon who is rearranging his schedule that week just so he can help with VBS in the mornings. That is making a difference where you are. What kind of testimony will that be for the people he works with when they find out what he is doing that week? I have had lots of people come up and tell me they will serve wherever we need them.

LT: Their heart of sacrifice is amazing to me. I have lists of people including dads who have rearranged their schedules or taken vacation so they can come and serve. That’s the body of Christ at its best.

What role did you work in past years of VBS?

MS: Last year I was a crew leader because that is obviously where we need the most people.  Therefore, they tend to get desperate and not be so picky…so there I am.

LT: Last year I came on as the VBS Director in April. I hadn’t worked a Southwood VBS or even been involved in Children’s ministry at Southwood prior to that. So this is my plug to say, if you see an area that your gifts can help fulfill then answer the call! Jump in there and do it!! We all have a gift from the Spirit to use to glorify Christ…it doesn’t matter if you have never served before. Every gift is important and needed. It is for Christ that we serve!

What were you thinking when you signed on to do this?

MS: I was thinking…Why not me? Why shouldn’t I step up to the plate? I thought Leah might do it with me and Bill Harritt had said he would help. I want our Southwood kids to enjoy coming to our church. I want them to want to bring their friends. I want to get to know the kids at our church. These are the people that will have an influence on my children, who will be their friends, the people they date one day. I want to know them and I want them to know me. I pray frequently that there will be lots of godly adults in my children’s lives-people who tell them about Jesus in ways different than we would as their parents. I think the more they hear it, the more they believe it. I want them to see what it means to live out your faith in a real way, not just pay lip-service to it but really get out there and do something. And enjoy doing it…laugh a little…or a lot.

LT: I was thinking of the glitz and glamour. The prestige that would come with this title.

How does God teach you or stretch you through this place of service?

MS: Well, I have heard some of the songs we are using and seen the moves so I will definitely be stretched. The past 6 months have been really crazy. Lots of things have happened that I never anticipated. Not just with me but with dear friends and family members. God has had to show me that he is in control, not me. What better way to learn that lesson than to take on an impossible task? We are just watching God work out the details with people I would have never expected in ways I would have never thought of.

LT: By showing me my sin nature. I can so easily get overwhelmed or frustrated and it’s in those times when I can feel the Holy Spirit remind me that my focus is for eternity’s sake.

Serving alongside other people develops friendship and camaraderie and reminds you of how the Body of Christ is supposed to function…for Christ and His Kingdom!