A Summer Ministry Vacation Bible Schools Evangelistically Focused
Summer months are defined by two ministries—summer camp and Vacation Bible School (VBS)—and both ministries are becoming more mission and evangelistically focused.
Auburn City Church welcomed nearly 100 neighborhood children to "Galilee by the Sea" this summer. VBS helps Auburn City connect with the children of recent immigrants from the Ukraine and Russia and community children of Christian backgrounds.
While Auburn City has successfully presented VBS programs in the past, follow-up has not been strong. "It is difficult for a child to make the transition from a weekday evening program directly into Sabbath School—especially when their parents haven't been involved yet," said Linda Burman, Auburn City VBS director. This fall, Auburn City began a monthly program, similar in style to a VBS program, for children and their parents to attend to continue the excitement of learning about Jesus.
Sequim Church developed a program called Bible Galactic Exploration for a creation-based, solar system-themed VBS program. Thirty-eight children, many from the community, attended. In addition to ministering to children, the church also reached out to parents and grandparents. Jay Richmond, Sequim VBS leader, reports that a church member is now studying with a family whose children attended VBS.
The VBS program "Avalanche Ranch" was presented in four metro-Seattle locations. At Renton Church, VBS is the church's biggest outreach for children. Renton leader Bekki Ortiz reports that about half of the 50 children who attended were non-Adventist relatives, with some relatives coming from California to participate.
Kirkland and Eastside Fellowship churches teamed up to minister to 23 children. The benefit of two churches working together for VBS? Teamwork, says Hannah Kim, a VBS leader. "It's a great experience for our church members to get better acquainted with the Kirkland Adventist community. We look forward to continued joint efforts."
Breath of Life's Avalanche Ranch VBS represented the fifth VBS program for this church, with 40 children attending. "Our work may appear in vain," said Garcia Jean-Baptiste, Sabbath School superintendent, "but we are touching and changing lives of children everyday."
Bellevue Church also presented "Avalanche Ranch" this summer, with 38 Adventist children and 50 community children attending. Teen volunteer Eve Foster reports how children participated in a mission outreach of their own in Operation Kid-to-Kid. Each child stuffed a colorful bear (with a felt heart and a "Jesus loves you" pocket note) to send to orphanages in Africa.
After Bellevue's five-day VBS, leader Dixie Robinson plans three VBS parties (early fall, holiday time, and mid-spring) and invites VBS participants to come back for a Saturday night reunion. The parties are a continuation of the VBS theme for the year, and are always well-staffed and well-attended.
Does VBS make a difference? Just eavesdrop on a conversation between 3-year-olds, where a little girl comforted her sick playmate with lessons learned at VBS: "God will get you better. He is real. He is strong. He is with us. He is awesome."