“That day they rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced.
And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.” Nehemiah 12:43
In 2013, my wife and I took our youth group on their first mission trip to another country: Haiti. Through an established Christian mission organization, we were there to help evangelize, teach the gospel, build houses and a church, teach the locals to learn English, and provide assistance in the medical clinic. The main job my youth students had was hosting a Vacation Bible School for the local children every day that week. The format was simple: act out an original Bible story skit, followed by a related craft. One of my favorites was Noah and the Ark. We taught how Noah’s faith in God’s promises saved him and his family, along with the animal kingdom, in a vessel of redemption known as the Ark. Of course, each skit was met with many challenges. The main challenge for the Noah skit was how to show God sending rain for the first time to flood the earth. As the children gathered that day, close to 40 kids in all, we still hadn’t figured out how we would make it “suddenly” rain.
As the students and translator began vividly acting out the skit for the children – over to my right, behind the courtyard fence where we were staying, a place known as The Hope Center, I saw a bright green garden hose. I had an "Ah ha" moment. I told one of the older students my plan; as soon as they got to the rain, give me some type of signal and I’ll shower all the children with the garden hose! I quickly ran to the other side of the fence. Thankfully, God had providentially placed a ladder up against the wall that wasn’t there before. I grabbed the ladder and the garden hose, climbed up the ladder, waited silently behind the fence for my cue.
Suddenly, the actors began screaming, running around in circles, looking up at the sky. This was my cue! Without hesitation, I unleashed the power of the garden hose and sprayed it directly on the mob of children. At first, they were scared (they didn’t know where the water was coming from), but as soon as they saw me, they immediately started laughing, jumping up and down with glee to play in the rain. Many of them even tilted their heads back, sticking out their tongues to take in as much “flood water” as they could – the very rain that was supposed to symbolize judgment and destruction! By this point, we had lost the main message of the story, but the joy of the children couldn’t be extinguished! Even my youth students and wife jumped into the rain storm, joyfully being “judged in the flood waters”. The rain storm must have lasted a good 10 minutes or more before the skit officially ended, escorting all the children over to the craft portion. There, we taught them the rest of the story: how God sent Noah and his family a rainbow as a promise that the Earth would never be flooded again.
The children couldn’t stop grinning, contagious for those of us who had the privilege to teach them. Something that started off small, a garden hose, brought gargantuan results: joy that could be heard from near and far the rest of the week. The children and my youth students talked about it every day after that, asking if there would be another “storm” coming that day. Sadly, God only flooded the earth once that week.
Friends and church members of New Covenant, what started off as a small "garden hose" idea, has become a wonderful project for God’s church here in Natchez with the expansion of our Nursery and building a playground, breaking ground March 11. Are you excited to hear the flood of joy? Are you excited to hear men, women, and children laugh and play together by the Lord’s provision of this wonderful facility at our church? I hope you are because I couldn’t have done it without YOU. Your support and excitement for bringing in younger families and children has been a beautiful and humbling thing to experience as your pastor! May we all relish over the joy that is coming friends. A joy that has been given to us by the LORD. Our calling as Christians is to be the most joyful people on the planet – WHY? Because through faith in Christ, we have been given a wonderful gift: eternal life that Jesus had immense joy in accomplishing for YOU (Hebrews 12:1-2). Let your joy provided by the Risen Lord be heard, seen, felt, and admired from near and far this month! “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4.
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