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Summer OFF Reflections: Christine's Story (2/3)

Summer OFF Painting Closeup

By Christine H. 

This is part two of a reflection from Christine, who was one of the founding leaders of Summer OFF. You can read part one here, and part three here.

When we heard that Faith and Hope Baptist Church was considering doing a Bible club at a neighborhood park in South Providence, we barely hesitated before offering to help. It turned out the city was continuing the free lunch program to the children and it appeared to be a fun way of reaching out to those who the Master may be inviting to the feast. I thought, “How cool would it be if together with our kids, we could be the hands and feet of Christ?” 

It’s energizing for me to think of creative ways to present stories to kids, so when it came to organizing crafts, costuming up for skits or any other VBS style presentation, I am truly in my element. We’d been doing VBS for years, so it was an exciting task to pack a bunch of goods in our car and head over to Dexter Park with the hope that some kids might want to come and play with us. I believe He heard my prayers for our family, because we genuinely enjoyed serving and loving on those kids we met in the park that first week. It turned out, this was different than serving the traditional, church-centered VBS we were accustomed to, so we needed to make some adjustments.

Communication was a little challenging at first, but we were not about to let language be a barrier. The kids seemed more receptive to us than we expected. They were timid at first, but in all, seemed eager for attention and someone to play with. Our kids moved out cautiously as well. But then, knowing they had a goal of showing the love of Christ, they spoke the universal language of love, smiled, swung around on the monkey bars a few times, and called out to the children to play. Dana grabbed the attention of some boys with a few rowdy games in the grass, and a folding table with some simple crafts brought a few more kids over to the big tree. Pastor Bill’s portable puppet theater, meanwhile, had time to be set up to tell the gospel message to a small group of waiting children sitting on blankets. 

At the end of the week, we were mystified when the growing group of children asked if we were returning the following week. This was the original Summer OFF scene as we remember. I am stunned by the goodness of God and the faithfulness of so many, young and old, who have spent hours planning and then loaded their cars with bins, balls, folding tables and thermos’ day after day and year after year. They dirtied their hands with paint, glitter, sweat, nail polish, watermelon juice and tears; sitting and speaking, playing and laughing, all to carry the love of the glorious King of everything to those in the park, so that more may come to the banqueting table of the King. 

Continue with part three!