This summer we had Vacation Bible School at our church. A key part of the activities was an offering each night at the opening session. The goal was $150 to go toward a playground set in South America through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries. Our VBS director intentionally set our goal at $150 so the kids could reach it without the help of adults. It was exciting to see the children start to grasp the idea of helping others in another part of the world.
The day after the first evening, I saw my youngest daughter, Alice, age 6, filling a Ziploc bag full of cash and coins. She had a look of determination on her face. I asked, "What are you doing?”
“I am getting offering for VBS tonight!”
“That’s wonderful. How much do you have in there?”
At this point, I was both nervous and proud. It was a strange mix of emotions. I prayed and asked for wisdom in the conversation.
I said, “That is wonderful, and so generous of you!”
“God told me to do it.”
“Well, then you need to listen to what God told you to do.”
My heart was pounding. I want my kids to grow up trusting the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. I also want them to learn to make their own choices and not do things because they think it’s what I want.
Next thing I knew, Alice ran down the stairs to look for another stash of coins in her backpack. She brought them back and added them to her collection, bringing the total to just over $21.
My oldest, Kenzie, entered the scene and wanted in on the excitement. Off she went, filled up her own Ziploc, and returned with $25. Together, they put their loot next to the door for when we headed out later.
The two of them were so excited, and started trying to add up how much they were taking with them to see if they would reach the goal. I finally said, “Girls, I am proud of you for listening to God. God also gave you a Mommy, and you have done so well. I want you to take the money you now have, and no more tonight.” They both agreed and went about their play.
My kids had complete trust in the fact they were hearing from God. It wasn’t a question, concern, or weird. They felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to contribute. They were able to understand that they already have plenty of toys and that the children in South America need a playground more than they need new toys. I was amazed.
When my son, Halston, entered the room, the girls asked if he wanted to bring an offering. He responded, “No, that is my money.” He is 3 years old and is hardwired to do the opposite of what his sisters want much of the time. I liked that there was no shaming or coercion by the girls toward Halston.
That night, it became apparent my kids were not the only ones who had raided their piggy banks. Our amazing VBS director was passionate about the money coming only from the kids. She wanted them to see what they were capable of doing and how they could be faithful with their own money. It worked! By the end of the week, they had raised just north of $500 toward a new playground! The children were thrilled. When the total was announced, there was a sense of unity and joy throughout the place.
Jesus was not joking when he said the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to children. They truly get it.
One night, the hosts encouraged the kids to invite someone to come with them to VBS. Without hesitation, my girls were on it. They asked me to text two families, then followed up by asking if I had heard back from them. One was out of town, but the other was able to attend.
My girls were not shy about sharing their money with God and trusting him with how it will be used for his glory. They also were not shy about asking others to join them at VBS.
- Do not be shy to give to the Lord faithfully when he asks of you.
- Do not be shy when you feel impressed to reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to for a while.
- Trust God with the same joy as a kid at VBS… and feel free to jump up and down in worship like them if you’d like!
Rev. Cara Shonamon is co-lead pastor of Shawnee, Kansas, Church of the Nazarene.