Catherine Kollath once again oversaw the set design for Vacation Bible School this year. Green Bay Community Church has been turned into an authentic looking jungle adventure this week for more than 250 kids. Catherine talks about the time she puts in and the benefits of volunteering.
Why do you serve?
Catherine: Ask God. He put me in over my head and said, ‘You have to lean on me and count on me.' It’s a series of events that got me here.
Tell us about how God brought you through some difficult personal struggles in recent years.
This is kind of the end of the journey. The beginning of the journey was when my life had just fallen apart. Everything I thought of who I was was gone. And I felt God or the Holy Spirit, something inside me (said): 'Get yourself to church and serve.' It was like, 'I’m broken. I’m useless. What can I (do)? Who can I help? I’m a mess.'
And God's like, ‘I like using messed up, broken people.' Because then He gets the credit for it. So I kind of just crawled through the front doors of the church and made it into the nursery. And Marcia Coffey (nursery director) said: ‘Sit with these babies and snuggle them.' It didn’t matter if I was crying because the babies were crying and we all got along.
Then the next opportunity arose to work in the workshop with Chuck (Beckman) and he was working on Christmas decorations. And I didn’t have the skills. It was out of my wheelhouse and God again was like, ‘That’s just where I need you.' To serve where He gets the glory. Then somebody saw what we were doing with Christmas decorations and said, ‘Could you help with Vacation Bible School decorations?’
It’s all networking, and being used, I love being a part of the body of Christ. I’m just one little cell that doesn’t really know what I’m doing but God’s got the big picture and He knows how to use it well.
What’s it been like serving on the VBS team?
My first VBS I did a lot of looking at directions and figured I’ll do it all myself and then I can do it right and then it can all be under my control. And God was thinking, 'No Catherine, that’s not how the body of Christ works.’ So I was overwhelmed. (Children’s Ministry Director) Stephanie Smith stepped up and did something online where everybody could volunteer. So we picked certain dates on Saturdays. They could come out to my farm in Seymour. What a blast. We played with the horses, petted chickens and snuggled the bunnies and actually built some palm trees and painted some ships in the meantime.
I keep remembering it’s about the relationships, not about the product. It’s a process. God wanted us there praying for the kids that were coming, getting to know each other. Now I see somebody on Sunday I wouldn’t have known otherwise except that we were working on this. And we found two other churches on Facebook that will use our sets afterward. They came out to the farm and met people from our church. That’s how the body of Christ is supposed to be, all connected and serving each other.
Are there benefits to serving?
It’s funny but you think of service as ‘I’m going to help somebody else out.’ That’s what I used to think. And now it’s God knows what He is doing. He designed us and he says, ‘I want you to serve because it’s good for you. It’s healthy for you.' And I’m healed. God healed me and all that pain I was in through service. I wasn’t helping God out. God was using something he designed me for to heal. I just praise him for it. It’s an amazing experience.
What goes through your mind when you see this beautiful set ready for VBS?
Joyful. It’s really cool to see how it turns out. Sometimes it’s overwhelming but I have to keep remembering there’s not a single kid that’s going to be brought to Christ because this flower is here. It’s the process. It doesn’t matter. I was led to Christ at a Vacation Bible School when I was 6 years old. No decorations. A chalk artist. A preacher told us about a parable and an artist drew the parable. By the end of the lesson there was a chalk drawing.
And at the end of the week when the pastor said that man that we’d been learning about — Jesus — could live in our hearts, I remember it was a Baptist church, I ran kids over to get to the front of the church. I wanted Jesus in my heart. And that’s what I pray these kids experience here at Vacation Bible School. There’s no kid that says, ‘Jesus sounds really cool but that leaf looks really dumb. I don’t think I’m going to go for it.’ That’s not what the decorations do. It just creates an experience for them.
Is there a feeling of satisfaction and pride in the finished product?
The pride comes from that we did it as a team. It’s humbling to belong to something bigger than yourself. And it makes me connected to the church as well. There’s so many ministries going on here and it’s easy sometimes to think there’s an inside clique and outside clique... It's belonging to something. I belong to the VBS set decorations team. Others belong to putting coffee out on Sunday. It’s just a way to be connected to the body of Christ.
Are you already thinking about next year's VBS?
The hard part of coming to opening night is already I’m wondering what the theme is going to be next year because it’s really a hobby. When there’s a three-day blizzard and you’re snowed in your farmhouse and you’re building a reef out of coffee filters and pipe cleaners for three days, me and the dog, it’s definitely a hobby, a little bit of an obsession and just a great source of joy. It’s fun.