Friday, August 12, 2011

Ice Cream for Christ

Her husband had laughed when Beth had bought the old van at the beginning of the summer.  “What are you going to do with that old thing?”  He asked.

“I am going to use it as an ice cream truck.  I am going to put some coolers in it and drive around the neighborhood selling ice cream to children.”

“You spend most of the year teaching children.  Why on earth would you want to spend your summer off driving an ice cream truck and talking to children?”

“Because while I am selling them ice cream and talking to them, I can tell them about Christ.”

Beth had made an agreement with the local distributor to sell her the ice cream at wholesale prices.  That allowed her to sell it to the children at a discounted price.  She wasn’t doing this to make money.  She just wanted to pay her expenses and visit with the children about Christ.

Some of the art students at the high school had painted signs on magnetic boards for Beth to put on the side of the van.  The home economics teacher had sewn bible character costumes for her. The guys in the auto mechanics class had fashioned a speaker so that she could announce her coming with Christian music.  The students in the computer class had created brochures for to give out, telling her schedule and the list of bible stories she would be telling. 

The first morning, Beth loaded the ice cream bars in the coolers, placed the coolers in the van, and dressed in her Miss Bell Bible costume.  She was ready to go—or was she?  It was 10:00 a.m. and the temperature had already reached 99 degrees.  She wasn’t sure that her decision to dress in biblical attire was a wise one.  She was about to go out into temperature that would reach 100 before she returned, dressed in layers of clothes that covered virtually every part of her body.  Lord, if you want me to do this, I will need a sign today.  Please keep me cool.  Watch over my health and the safety of the children.  Please give me the words to say and help them understand Your love for them.  Amen.

Miss Bell Bible left the coolness of her house and began driving the route she had designed.  The air conditioner in the van worked fairly well, but would not be able to keep the air cool when she began opening the side door to distribute ice cream. 

As Beth began her route, the music announced her coming.  She had decided to play a familiar children’s song on the first day.  The Wheels on the Bus was sung by every child in day care, public school, or children’s church and therefore, perfect for her first day.  She turned the volume up so that it could be heard, but not blaring.  She did not want to be intrusive, just announced.

On the first street, no children came out.  She knew this was possible.  After all, ice cream trucks had been almost obsolete for years.  Children of today would have to be taught what it was.  By the time she rounded the corner onto the third street, children were beginning to come out of the houses to see what was playing that music.  When they saw the signs on the side of the van, their eyes lit up and Beth saw them turn and run back into the house.  She slowed the van, giving them time to get their coins.

When three children ran out of one of the houses, Beth stopped the van. 

“Good morning.”  Beth smiled at the children.

“You look funny.”  The little boy told her.

“I’m sure I do.  That is because I am wearing clothes that the women wore when Jesus lived on earth.  Have you ever heard of Jesus?”

“Yes.  Why do you want to dress like that?”

“I want to tell you a bible story.  I want you to remember it.  Here is a flyer to tell you when I am coming and which story I am going to tell you.  Would you do a favor for me and give some flyers to the other children in the neighborhood?”

“Okay.  I guess.  But I still don’t know why you want to dress that way.”

“Well maybe you will understand by the end of the summer.”  Miss Bell Bible laughed.

Beth continued her route and by the end of the day had sold 20 ice cream bars and passed out 75 flyers.  She went home tired, hot, and happy.

“How was your day?”  Her husband asked.

“Hot, hot, hot.”  Beth answered.

“Well maybe you should sell ice cream when it is not so hot—like December.”

“Very funny.  You could be one of the wise men, but you would be more of a wise guy.”

“Oh, Honey.  I’m just giving you a hard time.  Seriously, how was your day?”

“It was good.  It was a little slow, but that’s alright.  I concentrated on getting the word out to the children.”

“Good idea.  I’m sure it will be better tomorrow.”

The next morning Beth repeated her previous routine with one exception.  She played Jesus Loves Me to announce her arrival.  This time on the first street, several children were waiting for her.  She stopped the van, got out the cooler and sold 10 ice cream bars.  Then she told the story of Zacchaeus.  She kept the story short so the children would stay and listen.  By the end of the day she had sold 74 ice cream bars and told the story of Zacchaeus 8 times.  She was surprised that none of the children had left the van before she completed the story.  She had been prepared for some to get their ice cream and leave.  Instead, the children had been polite and quiet while she told the story.

“How was your day?  Can I retire yet?”  Her husband teased.

“No, you cannot.  Unless you want to take over the ice cream route.”

“I think I’ll keep working.”

Then Beth told him about how many children had heard the bible story that day. 

“I am proud of you, Beth.  It is a great idea.  I am sure that the Lord will use it to bring children to Christ.”

Each day throughout the summer, Beth gained customers.  She never had less than 75 after that second day.  On some days, she even had a few adults that would buy an ice cream and listen to the bible story.  The van ran five days a week for eight weeks.  By the time school started, Beth had told bible stories to over 3,000 children and adults. 

Financially, Beth barely broke even.  But spiritually, Beth was richer than she could ever imagine.
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