Johnny and his family moved to Conway in the middle of the school year and it was a hard time for him. Getting settled into a new town, a new school, wow!

On top of that, Johnny wasn’t a very good student, C’s at best. He wasn’t very athletic either; every time the kids picked teams, he was the last chosen and it was always “Isn’t there anyone else? Okay, I guess we’ll take Johnny.”

His dad had been laid off from work for a long time prior to getting the new job in Conway so the family didn’t have a nice car or nice “things”.

Johnny didn’t wear the “newest” clothes and didn’t have the “newest toys” (he didn’t even have a cell phone!). Johnny felt himself a loner and a loser; he didn’t think he had anything going for him. But…

Johnny did have one thing, Susie, the little girl next door. She met Johnny on his first day in Conway and their mothers took turns driving them to school. She helped Johnny with his homework, always encouraged him when he had to do a report or project, and sat with him at lunch every day.

But the very best thing Susie did was to invite Johnny to her church’s Vacation Bible School! He and his family had gone to church only occasionally, and he enjoyed his Sunday school class. But again, even there he felt alone.

VBS was different. It was three hours long, each day for a week. There were crafts every day, and Johnny really enjoyed making things with his hands. While he wasn’t really good at the games, the VBS leaders encouraged him. And with Susie’s help, he learned his memory verse every day!

Johnny’s very favorite part came in the last 45 minutes of each day. The children went to the church auditorium, sang songs and choruses (Johnny really liked singing and all the songs were new to him), and the pastor’s wife shared a Bible story.

Listening to stories about boys and girls, men and women in the Bible, Johnny began to realize that none of them were “super”. In fact, they were all “just average”, like him. But God used them to do remarkable things. That fascinated Johnny.

Then on Wednesday evening, they learned a new chorus and God used that to reach into Johnny’s heart! The song was written by Bill and Gloria Gaither and the words are these:

“I am a promise; I am a possibility. I am a promise with a capital ‘p’. I am a great big bundle of potentiality! And I can be anything, anything God wants me to be.

“If you’ll listen, you’ll hear God’s voice; and if you’re trying, He’ll help you make the right choices; you’re a promise to be anything God wants you to be!

“You can go anywhere that He wants you to go. You can be anything that He wants you to be. You can climb the highest mountain; you can cross the widest sea. You’re a great big promise, you see!”

The teacher explained that God created each and every one of us in His sovereign and omniscient pattern. He made us all different and yet gave us all things to do that no one else can! Even Johnny!

No, maybe he’d never be an Einstein or a professional athlete. But if he followed God and became what God made him to be, he’d be like David, Daniel, Peter and Paul, serving in his own way!

That very evening, Johnny asked Susie if she’d go with him to talk to the pastor and she did (she’d been praying for Johnny, you see). As the pastor explained to Johnny the sinful condition of every person and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ to pay for our sins, the Holy Spirit reached Johnny.

Then and there, he confessed his sinfulness to God and asked the Lord Jesus Christ to be His own personal Savior. And that day, Johnny became a child of the King!

Of course, this story is fiction, or is it? Aren’t their Johnnys in every neighborhood and in your church community? Is your church reaching out to the boys and girls of your community to bring them in and share with them the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ?

God has greatly blessed me by allowing me to serve in formal education for 44 years (public schools, Christian schools and with homeschools). But even more, he’s allowed me to serve in church-related ministries to boys and girls and youth since I was 15-years-old.

That’s why I’m so “high” on Christ-centered (not “fun” centered, or “event” centered, though those can be a part of the program, too) youth and children’s ministries, Bible-based/disciplining programs like AWANA, summer camps and retreats, and summer Bible schools. In my 67 years, I’ve seen more boys and girls come to Christ as Savior or fully give their lives to Him in ministries like these than in all of the Sunday worship services and revivals put together!

Some would say that our children are the futures of our churches. Not so! They are the present! If we aren’t leading them to Christ and teaching/modeling to them that he must be first place in their lives, then they’ll be part of the statistics of young folks who “leave” the church.

Get involved in your church’s children and youth ministries. You may not be able to teach or preach, but you can model “Christ-likeness” to the young people, you can love them, pray for and with them and help them! And parents, make sure your children are actively involved in your church children/youth activities. Send them to camps and retreats; go with them to VBS (and you get involved, too!).

Jesus had a special place in His heart for children. Healthy churches do the same. And remember, each child is a “promise, a possibility”. Each child is a “great big bundle of potentiality”. Let’s make sure they’re directed to Christ!

Day of the Christian Martyr

According to church tradition, June 29 marks the martyrdom of the Apostle Paul. This year, Christians around the world will take time on June 29 and throughout that weekend to be inspired by and honor the legacy of those who have sacrificed their lives for the advancement of the Gospel. It is also a time for us to be much in prayer for the persecuted church and Christians around the world.

The Voice of the Martyrs invites you to watch a special ceremony on June 29 at 9 a.m. (CDT) (that’s 10 a.m. “our time”) on Facebook Live, facebook.com/VOMUSA. Following that, video of the ceremony (honoring three Christians -- the Groenewald family -- martyred in Afghanistan in 2014) will be available for viewing and download at persecution.com/martyr.

Ground Zero Sunday Celebrations

They’re back! Again, this summer, Ground Zero is hosting Sunday Celebrations on the Boardwalk (between eighth and ninth avenues North). These free concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. each Sunday evening. Bring blankets or lawn chairs (but no tents, please).

The lineup is: this Sunday: Building 429 with Unspoken and Outcast BMX; special speaker Andrew Palau; July 7: Sidewalk Prophets with Blanca; July 14: Hollyn with 7eventh Time Down. Each week DJ Pdogg will also provide music. Go online to www.mygroundzero.com.

Volunteers Needed

Holy Lamb Lutheran Church will host a BBQ Fundraiser for Help4Kids on Aug. 24. A lot of volunteer help is needed.

What can I do, you ask? You can pull pork, set up tents and tables, work in the kitchen, serve, clean up and take down. Email to info@help4kidssc.org.

Conway, Loris, Aynor and Western Horry

■ Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church, 5791 S.C. 9 in Loris, will have VBS through Friday of this week at 6:30 p.m. The theme is “World Changers”.

■ Maple Baptist Church, 4500 S.C. 65 in Conway, will have VBS this week, through Friday, from 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

■ Juniper Bay Baptist Church, 5265 Juniper Bay Road, invites everyone to their “God and Country” Celebration Sunday beginning at 10 a.m.

Don’t miss this special event beginning with the presentation of colors, patriotic music service and tasty picnic. Drive your old car; wear your old clothes and enjoy an old-fashion patriotic celebration! Phone (843) 397-2787.

■ Don’t miss, Glory Train (a Southern Gospel band), in concert at the Goretown Missionary Baptist Church, 581 S.C. 348 in Loris, Sunday at 5 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

■ New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 5489 Cates Bay Hwy., will have VBS July 7-10. Enjoy a family supper each evening at 5:30 p.m.

■ Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, 4301 Red Bluff Road in Loris, will have Vacation Bible School July 8-12 from 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Make plans to attend and go In the Wild with games, crafts and exciting Bible stories. There will be classes for all ages. July 12 will be Commencement and Family Night at 6:30 p.m. Phone (843) 756-6221.

■ Good Hope Baptist Church, 6101 Privetts Road, will have VBS In the Wild July 7-10 from 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. This is for all ages. Phone (843) 365-6242.

■ Salem United Methodist Church, 2376 S.C. 90, invites all elementary and middle school-age boys and girls to Salem Summer Fun Saturdays. The activities will be held from10 a.m.-noon. Parents may either drop off the children or stay and help! (And, of course, snacks are provided!)

July 13: Splish Splash Saturday: water balloons, sprinkler stations and more (bring a towel!). July 20: Saturday Art Festival: help create a work of art in the church parking lot (chalk art masterpieces) and learn to paint with water guns!

July 27: Saturday Sports Challenge: have fun testing your skills in basketball, horseshoes and an obstacle course. Aug. 3: Saturday in the Park: celebrate summer with balloons, bubbles, hula-hoops, hot dogs and ice cream.

Email name and age to salemumc@gmail.com, leave message at (843) 347-3045 or just drop in!

Contact Jenny Johnson at (843) 340-5185.

■ St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, 3449 S.C. 65, will be distributing food on the second and fourth Fridays of each month from 11 a.m. until all food has been distributed.

■ Loris First United Methodist Church, 3507 Broad St., has a Blessing Box in the church and it is available each Friday from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

This box contains nonperishable food items and individuals in need are encouraged to come to the church at those times. Also, if you would like to donate items, please place them in the box.

■ Dogwood Hill Baptist Church, 1040 Mt. Zion Road in Loris has a food pantry on the third Saturday of each month from 8 a.m.-10 a.m.

■ Salem Baptist Church, 4008 Salem Road in Aynor, opens its Food Bank on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 9 a.m.-noon. The mission: “We serve Christ when we serve people.”

Myrtle Beach/The Coast

■ Temple Emanu-EL by the Sea, 65th Ave. North and N. Kings Highway, invites you to Friday night service at 7:30 p.m. (Kosher Oneg), Shabbat Service at 10 a.m. (Kosher Kiddush).

Current Second Nature Project: we are collecting individually-wrapped snacks and juice boxes to help both the Community Kitchen and Helping Hand. Place in the basket by the front door of the Rosen Center. All Mitzvoth greatly appreciated. Questions? Contact Karen Osborne at (843) 446-1060.

Annual Indoor Yard Sale: Aug. 4, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. (rain or shine). Browse treasures galore, toys, clothing, books and much more. Phone (843) 748-0612 or (843) 685-6100.

Camp Judaea: Israel, Judaism, Nature, Community, Individual growth. For boys and girls age 7-15. Phone 1-404-634-7883.

■ Knitting Hearts Ministry will sponsor “Unleashing the Signs” with Chuck Smith of Gateway Prophetic School in Charlotte. This will be held at Socastee Church of God, 4475 Mill Pond Road, on July 20 at 10 a.m. (Also enjoy music by Trista Smith, Psalmist/worshipper.)

■ Myrtle Beach Christian Church, 1226 Burcale Road, opens its Thrift Store each week, Thursday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. You are encouraged to come out and browse and buy and, in so doing, you’ll be supporting this community outreach. Phone (843) 236-1121.

■ Temple Shalom, 4023 Belle Terre Blvd., invites you to Shabbat services each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Phone (843) 903-6634 or go online to templeshalommyrtlebeach.net.

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