93: Glitter and Glue

93: Glitter and Glue

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles

Glitter and Glue

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.

~Psalm 37:3

A warm breeze wafted through the open doors and windows of the classroom in the small coastal fishing village in Ghana, West Africa. I picked up my scissors and started cutting the first stack of paper for the crowns.

Behind me, ninety children worked with their Vacation Bible School teacher to memorize Psalm 1 and listened to the Bible lesson. I worked with a team of three native teens to cut crowns, apply glue and glitter, and distribute them to each of the children. The only time these children saw glitter (or “shine-shine” as they call it) was when we came for the annual VBS, and each year they looked forward to being crowned sons and daughters of the Most High King.

As the teacher finished the lesson, I began handing out the crowns. I soon realized we hadn’t made enough for even half the students. No problem. We had plenty of supplies for more. I turned back to my team and got to work. After we had five or so crowns made, I passed them out while the teens continued to cut and glue. When I had a large stack of crowns, the children were content to wait at their desks, but now that I was only distributing a few at a time, I encountered cries of “Madam, Madam. Me. Me.” each time I turned around. The glue was running low and I was starting to get frustrated with all the pushing and shoving. But there were only about twenty children left, so I wasn’t worried. I turned back to make more crowns.

The next time I turned around, the number of children without crowns had more than doubled. I sighed but figured we could handle it. But when I looked up again, there must have been at least seventy children crowding around me begging for a crown—and the glue bottles were on empty. I could tell the new children were older, so I asked the teacher why they weren’t in their own class. He told me they had run out of supplies so they came to us to get their crowns.

I had reached my limit. Here were these ten- and eleven-year-olds bowling over the tiny tots for a piece of paper with glitter. Then God revealed something to me. These children were used to never having enough. Someone always had to go without. And they were pressing in to make sure they didn’t get left out this time. My next thought was, I wonder if this is how Jesus felt with the crowds pressing around Him?

I started praying. “God, this is about more than glitter and glue. This is about your ability to provide. This is about no one being left out. Loaves and fishes, God. Loaves and fishes.”

As I prayed, I remembered the words of my pastor: “Jesus does not provide us with everything we need. He IS everything we need. Jesus does not give us sufficient to our need. He IS our sufficiency.” I silently started praising God for meeting the needs of these children and proving Himself faithful.

A short time later, I noticed a peculiar thing happening. Whenever I put down a bottle of glue, there would be a mad dash as my helpers dropped their bottles and grabbed for the one I just set down. No problem, next time I picked up one of the others and used it. But when I set it down, everyone dropped theirs and grabbed for the one I just finished with. Then I realized, it didn’t matter which glue bottle I picked up, the only one with any amount of glue in it was the one in my hand.

I knew it was time to share my faith, but I was apprehensive. What if there wasn’t enough? Then, not only would there be children without crowns, but there would be teens with crushed faith. I decided to have faith, and I handed each teen a glue bottle (we had three—all quite empty by this time) and said, “Jesus will provide. Every child will get a crown.” There were still at least fifty children who needed crowns. The teens took the glue bottles and they took the faith I offered them and each time they squeezed a glue bottle I heard, “Jesus will provide.” A whole new attitude permeated the room. Not just the workers, but the children themselves, became less desperate as we passed out the completed crowns.

I sent someone to go check the house where we were staying to see if we could get more glue. The door to the supply room was locked and the key was in another village, as I expected. I kept watching the road for the rest of the team to return, hopefully with more supplies. They didn’t come, which was what I expected. Someone did go scouring in the other rooms and found two bottles of glitter and a mostly empty bottle of glue. We rejoiced and kept making crowns.

About the time the lids came off the glue bottles and we were sticking our fingers in the bottles to scrape them clean, I asked the teacher to begin praising Jesus with the children.

To the rhythmic beat of African praise, we scraped the bottom of the glue bottles with a stick to get every last drop. But even in that I saw something amazing. One time I’d grab a bottle and there would be nothing left. The next time I scraped it, the stick would come out dripping with glue.

Then it started drying up. We had been using empty glue bottles for over an hour. Finally I had to squeeze the stick to get the last of the glue off it. One of the teens scraped the glue off my fingers to finish that crown. There was nothing left. My heart sank as I looked around the room and saw another dozen empty heads. I took a deep breath, and in faith, picked up the scissors and another piece of paper. Everyone WOULD get a crown.

My helper said, “We are finished.”

I pointed to a bareheaded boy standing near me.

“He has one.”

“What about them?” I motioned to the group praising in the middle of the room.

“They have theirs.”

“And the children outside?”

“Everyone has one. We are finished.”

I sank down at the desk and cried.

~Deborah Gatchel

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