By Roger Lubiens
After retiring as a financial government auditor at the age of 53, my life was changed by my involvement in Summer Camps and Vacation Bible School. I thought I would be spending my early retirement on our restful, quiet farm in North Dakota. Retirement made me think of playing in my garden, relaxing at our lake, and growing wheat, corn, and beans. These activities would fill my summers. Little did I realize how God’s influence and destiny would impact this view of retirement.
My children’s pastor had created a God-inspired vision within me and changed how I would spend these ‘quiet’ days. The camps and schools I have gotten involved in have allowed me to experience the power of Christ and see His ability to change young lives in incredible ways. At the beginning of this vision I had prayed the Prayer of Jabez, “Lord use me and expand my boundaries”.
Pastor Earl Radford had first brought me into Children Ministry to assist his department’s financial needs. This involvement led to a role in our Saturday night Powerhouse class for the lower elementary grades. A group of 35 volunteers ministered as our class grew from a handful to 185 children. It was an exciting time with energized music, Bible lessons, Bible games, and small group devotions. Dozens of children accepted Christ each year.
I have volunteered for numerous VBS and Bible camps. These opportunities began when Camp Bentley in North Dakota asked that I come and lead their camp music program. During a rain soaked week at Lake Anamoose, 18 children accepted Christ. I had not considered this possibility since I was there to just play keyboard and share the joy of Christian music.
That same summer, while leading chapel worship at Crystal Springs Bible Camp, 32 children accepted Christ as their Savior. While the fun activities included swimming, fishing, and canoeing, children were listening to the stories of Christ and making spiritual decisions during campfires, devotions, and worship/story time.
The next summer my wife Susan joined me at Camp Judson in the Black Hills (near Mt Rushmore) to manage the projector and laptop during Chapel Worship. The stirring of young hearts began and Susan helped lead 18 girls to Christ one Thursday night. That same night in a boy’s cabin, 6 boys accepted Christ. In all, 80 of the 94 children at Camp Judson made a decision to answer “The Calling of Christ”, which was our camp theme.
In addition to the camps mentioned above, I was asked to lead VBS music at Friendship Baptist, an inner city church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We developed this VBS camp from the lesson plans and camp resources obtained at Children’s Pastors’ Conference each year. These CPC resources helped us plan promotion ideas, publicity, skits, arts and crafts, planned meals, and more. The South Dakota VBS has grown from 25 children to 185 children, with VBS sessions held now both in the morning and evening. There was an abundance of activities for the kids; an inflatable bounce sports house, a visit from the Sioux Falls Canaries baseball mascot, and the local Fire Department demonstrated their fire protection equipment. Our theme, ‘Son World Adventure’, focused on how children can experience the incredible adventure God has in store for us.
During this year’s VBS we offered awards for bringing the most friends, memorizing Scriptures, and perfect attendance. The children were eager to learn and earn camp prizes and a number of children earned Super Hero Bibles. On the final Friday, more than 200 children and parents attended our VBS barbecue dinner and were part of our closing ceremonies. These children also raised $200 for the Alaskan Mission Project, which put Bibles into the hands of twelve Eskimo village churches as well as the Covenant Bible camp in western Alaska.
My adventures continued as I was invited to lead VBS at a remote Eskimo village in western Alaska. We saw hundreds of glaciers as we flew over Mt McKinley and the Yukon River, landing on the Bering Sea coast. I traveled 10 miles upriver, equipment in tow, to a wilderness camp where 31 Eskimo children would hear the story of Christ. Swimming in an ice cold river, sleeping in a canvas tent, and enduring 40-50 degree temps was nothing compared to seeing Christ through the eyes of these Eskimo children. Sixteen Eskimo children accepted Christ as their Savior. They also showed me how to catch a King Salmon for dinner.
The power of God’s calling is seen in the eyes of children at every camp I attend. For some it’s a time where they worship God and experience Him for the first time. One 9 year old girl sent me a postcard saying, “Camp has changed my heart and my home”. These dynamic moments, with the prayer and support of many dear friends, made it all happen.
Children’s ministry has the power to change a child’s heart. Be a World Changer by exercising the passion God has placed in your heart. Pray for the most incredible adventure and it will unfold right before your eyes.
Editorial Comment: Perhaps there are retired people at your church who would be open to joining you in your ministry on an exciting second half of their life. Tap into those people and you just might find one like Roger!
Roger lives in Folsom, CA and attends Bayside Church. You can contact him at [email protected].