First Baptist Church St. Simons Island

Author: Rev. Rory Naeve

Goodbye

I’m lousy with goodbyes. It’s true. So I think I’ll just thank people and tell a story. How about that? First, let me on behalf of my family thank Nancy Bryson, Maxine Chambless, Allaine Ridenour, and Carolyn Still for their work in providing a wonderful reception for us. Also, thanks to all the kind words of encouragement and prayer all of you had for us as we conclude this chapter of ministry and begin another. Thank you to Susannah Mize and Cameron Anderson for presenting that awesome memory album that so many of the youth worked on. I was surprised and touched, truly.

Thanks to all the adults and parents who have made the trips, events, and lessons be as stellar as they are. Thank you to all the youth who not only tolerated me but accepted me to be a part of your lives. It has been an honor to be even a small part in the shaping of who God is calling you to be. Thank you to the church at large who provided such a home for us and who will continue to be like family to us. And now the story!

I had to leave a church in seminary and I had cut off my long hair (yeah, I had long hair then too). But I still wore a hair-tie around my wrist and when I took it off, there was still a dent where the tie throttled. It left a mark. I explained that this church left a mark on my heart. So, church, even though my time is almost over, know that I am marked for having been here. I wear that mark proudly and I believe I

VBS is Truth Communicated

VBS is happening as I type. It’s a unique time. There are maybe 5 or 6 generations of volunteers all pitching in to make something special for this next generation. Think about that. What other things do we do that get people from that wide a swath all working together? It just doesn’t happen. VBS is one of those things that matters.

I think that’s why we keep having generations come up and be a part of it. I’ve talked with folks and all of them have memories of their own VBS or past VBS they’ve been a part of. It matters. It mattered to the youth who are volunteering and they are making something that will matter to the next generation. There are youth walking around with kids in their groups. There are youth running rotations like crafts or the movie room. Youth will be sharing a bit about the Costa Rica Mission Trip coming up. It’s a cool time.

But why does all this matter? Is it the amazing decorations, the creative snacks, the crazy games, the silly movies and the kooky costumes? No, all that is the vehicle, the way that the message gets to the children. What matters is the truth being communicated. The truth is that Jesus loves them and is mighty to save. That is communicated in word through Bible stories, verses, and leaders. But it’s also being communicated by the love and time being showered on them this week by this church. That matters eternally!

Modeling Jesus

It’s sort of the quiet before the storm around here. Next week will be VBS which means children everywhere, a flurry of activity, and my favorite part is seeing all of the volunteers who make this possible. There are great folks who year after year pour their time, creativity, and energy into making VBS as special as it is. There are people who take vacation time from work to do it. Some seasonal members consistently volunteer every year. You have people like Sylvia Martin who coordinate and provide a recharge station for the volunteers. How cool is that?

And of course, the youth help out, too. There are always youth around the kids, picking up the slack, getting mobbed by kindergarteners, and dressing up in silly costumes. It’s really a cool thing to witness. But I’ve always found the youth’s role in VBS crucial. Humans are modeling creatures. We observe others doing something and mimic what we see others doing to their benefit. College students look up to their professors, high schoolers model after college kids, middle schoolers after high schoolers, all the way down.

The youth, the teens, are modeling what all of this talk about Jesus looks like. When the children see the youth singing during worship, it’s sets the example. When the youth buy into the magic at story time, the kids buy in, too. When teens give their time and energy to VBS, the children grow up to do it, too. That’s why so many of our youth help out with things like VBS, because a few years ago, a youth was there for them.

Grateful!

Last week I was flat out busy. Lots of cooking, lots of meetings, lots of commitments. “Boo hoo,” you’re thinking. “Sounds like the youth minister got a real job.” Yeah, don’t worry, I can take the jokes. But really, it was a much more hectic week than most. The youth made a video to promote Night of Joy in September, we helped out with that VBS for special needs kids over at Epworth (including cooking them a meal), and then we had the fundraiser luncheon after church on Sunday. So, last week I was busy.

This week I’m grateful. I’m so grateful to the youth who jumped in and helped with choir camp. Many of them were former campers that have now become youth and are giving back to something they enjoyed. That is so cool! Friday and Saturday some of the youth came to help with the special needs VBS. Tropical Storm Andrea kept a lot of families back in Atlanta, but our youth jumped in and made the difference between success and failure for this program. I am so humbled to watch them be a part of it. I love our youth!

Lastly, I am so incredibly grateful to the youth, parents and volunteers who made Sunday’s luncheon possible. Many parents and volunteers cooked food for us, but I want to thank Sheila Collins, Donnie Jordan, and Tom & Susan Arnold for not only bringing food but putting in the hours to make it as nice and delicious as it was. They are golden people and they made that event what it was. And of course, I want to thank all of you for coming, supporting our youth, and giving so generously of your money, too. This church is amazing and for that I am grateful this week.