Vacation Bible School starts Sunday at Sixth Street Baptist Church where I’m interim pastor. I guess that explains all these folks in the church diligently decorating rooms. Vacation Bible School has come a long way from coloring books, sugar cookies and red Kool-Aid. Nowadays everything is high-tech, organized to the second and decorated to the hilt.

I remember Vacation Bible School in the basement of the church with the windows open and sweating like a dog. The teachers would give us a Bible card the first day with about 6 million Bible verses we had to learn by the end of the second week, plus we had to know our books of the Bible backward and forward. I can still recall most of those verses and only have to look in the index for books like Haggai, Nahum and Job.

Vacation Bible School brings back many fond memories of teachers telling my mama how I had misbehaved, spilled Kool-Aid and pestered the girls. I can still remember the sweet smile on Mama’s face as she gave me a whipping for my troubles. Yes sir, that little lady didn’t put up much with modern psychology and the worry of scarring my psyche. She thought a young’un ought to behave in public or pay the consequences, especially at church. I wonder what happened that changed that philosophy to accommodating misbehavior?

After all these years, I can recall a certain missionary who spoke to us at commencement. This fellow showed some slides of the Pagan tribes he worked with and talked about body piercing, tattooing and skin dyes. Man, I sat there looking at those slides with my 8-year-old eyes as wide as a hoot owl and my hair standing on end. It was the scariest thing I had ever seen in my life. Today I can go to the mall and see the same thing. Maybe the Pagan tribes have had more influence on us than we have on them.

Today the kids I really like at Vacation Bible School are the preschoolers. These little rascals are the cutest things with all their handwork and projects. Last year one drew a picture and said it was me. It looked like a dead cow to me but everyone else said it was a remarkable likeness. I turned that picture every way possible and it still looked like a dead cow. I showed the picture to my wife and she thought it looked like me. I think she just said that because it was true.

Vacation Bible School is the highlight of the year for our children’s ministries. It presents an opportunity to share the gospel with children on their level and teach them a Biblical value system. There will always be boys pestering girls, spilled drinks and kids cutting up but the bottom line is the study of God’s Word.

Not everyone can work in Vacation Bible School but everyone can pray the Holy Spirit uses these schools to touch the lives of children in an eternally positive way. These are tough days we live in and we don’t want the world influencing our children with its values until they look like the world or the Pagan tribes at the mall. So support your church’s Vacation Bible School with your time, finances and prayers.

Oh no, the little girl who drew my picture last year just came by and wanted to know if I still had it. I didn’t have the heart to tell her my wife has it framed and hung on her wall. It looks like it is going to be another one of those years.

Dr. Gerald Hallmark is a retired minister living in Alexander City whose column appears here each Friday.