“Romano Cinco Ocho...” we all rehearsed as the red beanie bag was passed around. When the scripture verse stopped at one of us, the students laughed in amusement of our accents and mispronounced words as Julie had to repeat Romans 5:8 in Spanish. Although it was amusing, the students applauded after she spoke God's word.
Love in this story begins with a widow; a loving grandmother named Maria De Jesus. In a small home in Tecate, children run free yelling “puedes venir para jugar conmigo!?”(Come hangout and play) The neighborhood although grungy and beat is filled with color and personality. As our Skokie team is welcomed with open arms to Maria’s Home, we see familiar faces from Sinai church: Eunice, Araceli, and Caleb. Meeting at someone’s home for VBS was unusual for us. Where are the kids? How are they getting here? Why are we in this lady’s home and not at a church? As questions filled our minds, it become a little more confusing when Caleb told us “We must hand out these cards around the neighborhood and invite children to Maria’s Home for VBS”
We split into two groups and saw the universal language at work. Each boy jumped into Caleb’s arms in pure joy as we approached and invited them to Maria’s Home. It was questionable whether they would come based on their response, but as time progressed through the first hour of the lesson, more and more people began to appear. By the grace of God, all the children we invited (12) showed up by the end of the lesson.
Engaged and intrigued, the students eagerly raised their hands to questions Araceli and Eunice would ask. I sat in awe as these students went from restless to connected. There was no other explanation but love. It was clear that the Holy Spirit was present. God was using not only Maria De Jesus, Araceli , Eunice, Caleb, and the students but also us as an instrument of love.
After the lesson, the teachers provided treats and soon after we all went to the park. It was at this point we started to make a connection with the children. We played soccer and enjoyed every second of it. By 8, we finished and our team was still amazed at how well the day went as the children left the park.
The following two days at VBS began and ended the same.... in a spirit filled manner. With a similar routine, but not a loss of enthusiasm, attendance grew larger each day. As I reflect on these 3 days attending VBS in Mexico, I learned that Christianity only has one language, and that is love. The love we feel from our savior inevitably pours out and impacts the people in our lives. Maria opened her home to the youth in the neighborhoods of Tecate out of her love for God. Eunice, Araceli, Caleb, commit their time multiple days a week to mentoring and teaching these students out of their love for God. Skokie Valley Baptist Church came to Mexico out of their love for God. As a result, we trust in God that the time we spend with the youth will lead to them learning about God's love.
We attended VBS in Tectate to serve and give our time; however, it turned out to be much more than that. It felt like God placed us there to receive rather than to give. Every moment we spent there, we learned how he was using each of his faithful servants as an instrument of love: the one language anyone can understand no matter his or her background.