Philip and I had just finished playing Wiffle ball in front of our apartment building when he asked me what my wife and I were going to name our baby. (My wife was due to deliver our first child in about two weeks.) So I started talking about names with my eleven-year-old neighbor.
"Did you know that Philip was the name of one of Jesus' disciples?" I asked.
"What's a disciple?" Philip answered.
I guess I shouldn't have been astonished by Philip's lack of understanding about the Bible—I knew his mom and her live-in boyfriend didn't go to church—but his response did surprise me. I stammered over the answer to such a seemingly easy question. I finally came up with something, and then said, "You know, Philip, you ought to go to church with us sometime—you can learn all about stuff like this there."
"Are you going tomorrow?" he asked.
"Sure, we go every week. Wanna go with us?"
"Yeah, what time should I set my clock for?"
Philip was just one of about 30 kids living in our apartment building. Most, like him, did not go to church or even have a basic understanding of Christianity. Neither, for that matter, did many of their parents.
My wife and I had made an effort to know these kids and their parents, forming friendships with many of them. After we had lived there a year, we decided to do something special for the children—a VBS Jamboree.
Our church was having Vacation Bible School in June, so we held a special party for the kids of Airy Trails apartment building two weeks before VBS. It would be a day full of games, food, and other fun things for the kids to participate in. They could also sign up for VBS.
I sent a letter to all the parents, explaining what the Jamboree was; I put up signs and large cardboard VBS ...