Volunteering at VOICE's Graduation Treat

It had been a while since I last helped out in our church's VOICE Ministry (Values Orientation in Classroom Education). I used to teach values to grade school students at the Krus na Ligas Elementary School near UP Diliman. That was around a year ago.

I told Kuya Cris that I was stopping for a year because my schedule could not accommodate the weekly teaching load. But I was determined to teach again in the coming year if God permits.

Even if I'm not officially with the ministry, however, I grabbed the opportunity to volunteer in the VOICE Graduation Treat given by the team helping out at the Blara Elementary School, at the Windmill Farm behind UP. The plan was simple. They wanted to share the Gospel to the grade 6 graduating class in a simple evangelistic event filled with games, magic shows, story telling and small group discussions.

There were around 40 from our church who came and we served more or less 130 students. I enjoyed the games, particularly the "Pinoy Henyo" where I volunteered as time keeper. Several students took turns guessing names and terms from the different values lessons they learned throughout the year.

Kuya Jan Barrera's Gospel presentation using magic tricks caught the attention of the students. I find it creative to mix Biblical message with attention-grabbing activities like magic ticks. Though we really have to be very careful so that the illustration will not overpower the message.

His explanation of sin using "Betadine" mixed with a glass of water made the concept clearer for the young participants. It graphically illustrated how sin made us "dirty" or "dark" before our holy God. And as adding clean water on the glass could not make the solution as clear as it originally was, trying to cleanse ourselves through our good works wouldn't work as well.

Kuya Jan, then, used a cross as a stirring rod to illustrate his next point--only the blood of Jesus could  cleanse us from our sins. When he stirred the solution, the liquid slowly became clear again. He graciously told me the secret behind this trick, but I'm not about to share it here.

I will share, however, the timeless truth that no amount of good work from ourselves can cleanse us from our sins and restore our broken relationship with God. It was Jesus who made a way when He died on the cross. That is why our proper response must be to admit that we are powerless on our own, and to trust Jesus alone as our Savior from sin and as Lord of our lives.

After the quick magic show, Pastor Tasky took on the role of a teacher and a story-teller. He elaborated on the Good News about Jesus, unveiling the whole salvation story beginning at creation down to the cross. At this point, I found myself praying for the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of the listeners.

As I looked around, I saw varying reactions from the students and parents. Some were bored but there were really those  who keenly listened. Just by reflecting on the different responses, I affirm what the Bible says that God is the one who gives people the grace to believe in Jesus.

We cannot put people in boxes, expecting similar results given the diversity of backgrounds and experiences.  What I have learned after more than two years in the ministry is that evangelism is less about counting converts and more about helping people inch closer into personally knowing Jesus.

Afterall, crossing over from death to life is not in the hands of the the evangelist. We can only faithfully and clearly proclaim Jesus, leaving the conviction of the heart to the Holy Spirit.

We had small group discussions at the end of the program and I handled six students from Kuya Marlon's class. They were bright students with wonderful ambitions. We only had limited time discussing so I concentrated on explaining to the students what saving faith in Jesus meant.

I told them that it was more than knowing facts about Jesus, though this is certainly part of it. Saving faith involved trust. The things we know or understand about the Christ are useless if we do not make a stand on them-- whether to believe or reject them. Those who genuinely believe are reconciled to God. While those who reject, remain separated from Him.

As a parting illustration, I taught them about the "Roman Hand Shake." I learned this a long time ago as an illustration of God's faithfulness to those who believe. It's a unique kind of handshake where both participants hold each other up until the elbow. The idea is, even if one lets go, as long as the other keeps holding on, the handshake is not broken.

This is how God treats His sons and daughters. He assures us that all those He saves are safe in His arms. Even if at times we let go, Jesus will never let go. He is faithful to see us through.

I don't know if I'll be able to see these students again. But my peace is that God has planted seeds of the Gospel in their hearts. I pray that somewhere along their faith journey, someone else can continue planting, watering and cultivating the truth until the day they come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

May you be encouraged!

In Christ,

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