george_hancockstefanThis week, the AACC held its annual Vacation Bible School. It is a fantastic week. There are over 140 children registered, we have had 45 volunteers, the weather has been fantastic, and the Atlantic Highlands Elementary School is a great place to hold this gathering.

As I was observing the teaching centers, the drama centers, the art centers, the recreational centers, and the concluding worship service each day, the words from the book of Proverbs came to my mind: Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov. 22:6

It is interesting to me that during the same week when I observed so many children learning about God, a parent came to see me because their teens seem to be showing very little interest in things pertaining to God. Sometimes, the parent remarked, they seem to move as far from the Word of God as possible.

How should one take the divine promises that we find in Proverbs and in other places? The prophet Isaiah tells us that God’s word will not return void, but will fulfill the intended purpose (Isaiah 55:11). It was with this interest in mind that the Psalmist says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart so that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11) When Jesus is talking about the power of the divine word spoken by God, He says that heaven and earth shall pass away, but His word will not pass away without being fulfilled to the smallest details (Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31).

Children come to VBS to learn the word of God, they come to learn to sing songs such as, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” Yet many parents have experienced the departure of their older children from the churches where they have grown up. They have been here for their baptisms or dedication, for their confirmation or believer’s baptism, and then slowly moved away. By the time they get to college, only about half identify with the Christian faith they have practiced as children and youth. In college, another shake-down takes place as many are not able to defend their faith on an academic level and the pressure of their peers is extremely powerful.

Yet, in spite of all these changes, we have to trust the word of God. The word of God has been planted, and some have watered it but, as Paul says, God is the one who gives the increase. We never know when this word will come to fruition. Most of us hope for numerous harvests, but there are also spiritual draughts. The seed has been sown, but because it has not been nurtured, it has not sprouted and produced fruit.

My best illustration of the word of God being present in the heart of young person was in a conversation I had many years ago. This man declared from the beginning that he did not believe the Bible. As I continued the discussion, I found out that he knew the Bible as well or better than I knew it. This led me to ask me how he knew so much of the Scriptures. He told me that he had a blind grandmother who paid a dime every day to read her chapters from the Scriptures. Thus he read the whole scripture aloud. This grandmother was exceedingly wise. She was blessed by the reading of the Scriptures and so was her grandson who by reading this Scripture aloud memorized them. The word has been planted by this grandmother and she would reap her heavenly reward when her grandson will meet her in heaven because all the promises of God are true and amen.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...