Serving God in Our Own Backyard

"Excuse me, did you just say we have 87 children on our first night?" asked Veronica Ceniceros, one of the teachers. "We're going to need a lot more snacks." Serving together, Caldwell (Idaho) Church and Nampa Spanish Church welcomed children across the Treasure Valley as they learned about the meaning of service through God's Big Backyard during the week of Aug. 4–8. Through God's Big Backyard, children participated in the large-group excitement of Backyard Bash. Every night children loved seeing the antics of Nick, the squirrel, and Cooper, the dog, and the adventures of "Becky" and "Wayne the Brain" as they found ways to serve others. Children learned about the different kinds of service they could do too. They also experienced God's Word in the Backyard Bible Club, met real-life servants at Community Corner, plus explored and created fun-filled crafts. This VBS program provided fun and memorable Bible-learning activities for children of all ages.

Every day children were challenged to complete an individual act of service at home, called It's Your Serve! Each day featured ideas on how to serve others. More than 90 children came each evening with nearly 114 by the end of the week.

On Friday evening, 79 students received their graduation certificates along with a variety of Christian books. On Sabbath, families attended a special VBS service in which Jim Berglund, pastor, who had lead out in the outdoor games, told about what the children had learned all week.

"The kids were so excited!" says Sandi Bowman, teacher. These children not only learned about service, but also pledged their lives to serve Jesus through everything they do in life. For this project, children made a 6-foot-long wall banner, hand wrote their "promises" to God and signed their names. This banner hung on the wall in the church and served as a reminder to children, parents and teachers that passed by.

Children learned how to serve family, serve friends, serve neighbors, community and Jesus. Elizabeth, a student, says, "I never want VBS to end. I wish it would last forever!" Alyce, another student, asked if they were going to do it for another week. And all the boys who attended begged to play more games. All of these children were not only touched by the many teachers and volunteers, but by the Holy Spirit—and that's a blessing.

So what's our mission now? To just take a step outside, look over our own fence, and help kids discover how rewarding service can be.

October 01, 2008 / Idaho Conference