God's People and Me! Story Five

A Vacation Bible School Curriculum by Barry McWilliams
An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America

Story Five: The Courageous Encouragers

We have a lesson here in "courage" - in reaching out to unbelieving and perhaps even hostile people for Christ, and a lesson in "encouraging" new believers in their faith and helping them grow toward maturity and service. Every church needs people who are willing to be vunerable, Christians who will meet people where they are, hurting and needing a Savior, and make the sacrifices necessary to bring those people to Christ and into the Body.

A new believer needs to be welcomed into the body and this is not always easy. Would a former criminal or recently converted drug-user find they were accepted in your church?

Saul, the murderer, was viewed with suspician until Barnabas took the steps necessary to win over his acceptance by the church in Jerusalem. And it was Barnabas who recognized the potential in Paul as a Pastor and Missionary and defender of the faith.

Story Outline:

A enemy to be feared! (Acts 9:1-2; 22:3-5)

Courage to go and share Christ (Acts 9:10-19; 22:12-16)

Can this man be trusted? Courage to accept and welcome him (Acts 9:21-30)

Can he be of use to the Lord? En"courage"ment - making a missionary (Acts 11:22-30; 12:25-13:3)

Puppet stories allow children to explore and deal with feelings and problems from a "safe" distance. The puppet thus should speak "for" the children, expressing their fears and emotions and reactions. In this story, the puppet will deal with the problem of welcoming "strangers" into the church - people who we may not feel comfortable with and may not trust.

Our puppet, Barney (or Anne), is very afraid of another child, who used to bully him (or her) on the School playground. Now this same person has started coming to Sunday School. Barney (Anne) doesn't like this, or trust this bully, and is afraid now to go to church.

In conversation with the puppet, explore the puppet's fears and tell the story of the courage of Ananias and Barnabas, who were "courageous encourgers" of the converted persecutor Saul. Craft the story in your own words, and weave it into a conversation with a child (the puppet). Be sure and highlight in some way each of the points in the outline above. Remember to always treat the puppet like a "person" looking at it while speaking to it or being spoken to by it.

There are some people to us are scary - use appropriate examples: gang members, disabled people, people of other races etc. Many fears are unrealistic.

Present the need to go and share Christ with everyone, even to those are hostile to Christ. It is for sinners that Christ came and died. (Ananias - Acts 9:10ff)

People often fear "strangers" in their midst and try to avoid them, especially if they aren't "like" us. It takes courage to open up our "cliques" to outsiders.

Present the need to accept and welcome into the church those who have come to know Christ even though they were formerly undesirable or feared. "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature." (Barnabas - Acts 9:21ff)

We are reluctant to take the time and give of ourselves as friends to newer believers. And we hesitate to give new Christians the opportunities to be all they can be for Jesus Christ.

Present the need to encourage new believers and help them grow and find places of service to the Lord. (Barnabas - Acts 11)

Conclude the story with Barney's (Anne's) courageous decision to go the Sunday School and be a friend to and make friends for the former bully.

© 1990, Hypertext Version © 1996 Barry McWilliams
This Curriculum may be downloaded, copied and used with permission of the author
by any Church or Christian Organization - Donations accepted.
For Permission and other information contact Barry McWilliams at eldrbarry@eldrbarry.net/a>

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