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"Is Jesus here?"
His brown eyes were questioning and a bit puzzled as he looked at me during those first few minutes of his first day in the Primary department of Vacation Bible school. I looked into his wistful face and realized he was a lad who had not attended Sunday school. Likely in inviting him to attend the school, a worker had aroused his curiosity by telling him we would learn about Jesus.
I felt the inadequacy of my own preparation as I stumbled for words to answer this question. I asked myself the questions - Is Jesus really in our department? Is He pleased with our efforts to teach these children about Him?
More than ever I realized the need for the workers in our department to make our teaching so clear that even this six-year-old could know the security that comes from knowing that Jesus is an unseen but loving Friend.
Later, prayerfully my workers and I decided that during this school we would question every part of our daily schedule, seeking to know whether we really did create an atmosphere genuinely Christian enough to help this child to discover and know that Jesus is always near.
Consciously we taught about Jesus in many different ways during those two weeks. We taught about him in the music. As we sang songs such as, "Jesus, Our Friend," "I am So Glad That Jesus Loves Me," "Tell Me the Stories of Jesus" and others telling of his love and care, there was a spirit of reverence among the children that led me to believe they were growing in understanding and appreciation of this wonderful Friend. During the commencement service at the end of the school, no Primary had a bigger, happier smile than our little friend of the first day as we sang: "We're glad because of Jesus who loves the children so." I believe the song had real meaning for him.
After studying our enrollment cards we felt our obligation was not only to work with the boys and girls in the department but to help their families also. Our interest carried us into many of the homes where parents were not Christians to talk of Jesus and His love and care. This gave us an opportunity to invite many unenlisted parents to our Sunday school.
From a little boy's question had come a deeper meaning to our Vacation Bible school work. We finished our two weeks' teaching with a feeling of achievement.
Our real victory came later when we saw our little boy, who had so interested us the first day, enrolled in Sunday school, smiling and happy with his new friends and teachers. His quiet confidence told us that his question had been answered. He knew Jesus was his ever-present Friend.
Vacation Bible school provides many opportunities for helping boys and girls to know that Jesus is near to help and bless them. Let's plan for more of them.
Written by Gladys Longley Dotson, and first published in June, 1951 in The Sunday School Builder.