Friday, August 12, 2011

VBS Goes to the Neighborhood

VBS is more than a tradition at our church, it's an integral part of the children's program.  Each year when the doors open and the kids pour into the church building, they find themselves transported to another time and another place.  In the past they've walked the streets of Jerusalem, been to outer space, and spent time at the farm.  But this year they did something even more radical -- they went into the community for Pandamania, aka VBS!

 Instead of one intense week with 160 kids and 100 volunteers crowding into the facility for music, Bible stories, crafts, snacks and games, this summer VBS was held in nine different locations in the community!  Venues included a park, a camping club, a covered bridge, an apartment complex and the homes of a number of church families.  Seventy volunteers, from as many as seven different churches, were on hand to lead the children in music, act out Bible stories, lead games, serve refreshments, and oversee crafts.  Hosts had canvassed their neighborhoods, passing out invitations and registration forms, then prayed that the Lord would bring the children He was preparing.  And come they did, over 140 of them!

Each location had a Panda-Gram and a Panda-Gramps, whose job it was to love on the children.  All the volunteers found ways to relate to the kids too.  But not all of the adults there were church volunteers.  One family, new to the area, spoke little English, so each day either the dad or the mom stayed with them to explain things.  A grandfather, whose grandkids happened to be visiting that week, was drawn in by a meal served to the VBS participants.  Now he plans to attend the Wednesday Night Dinners!


Meeting away from the church gave our kids, who usually relate their faith to church, an opportunity to see their faith at work in a new light.  As they interacted with their non-church friends, they could see that faith goes beyond the walls of the church.

Each day an offering was taken for the Eden Project, raising money to plant trees in Madagascar.  Well over $700 has been raised, and the money is still coming in.  At ten cents a tree, we're nearing 8000 trees, just from our VBS!

In one location, the story teller incorporated the Wordless Book into her teaching time.  By the end of the week seven of the twelve children in attendance had prayed earnest prayers of confession, asking Jesus into their hearts, and a 13-year-old helper had done the same. 

Years ago, when Charlie and Ginger Lipke's son attended a VBS in the park, he accepted Jesus.  Soon afterwards, so did his parents.  We may never know in this lifetime the full extent of how God is using this year's experiment to transform lives.  Only eternity will tell.  


Pat said...

Wonderful Ginger! Thanks for your reflections on VBS. The pictures are great too!

camilla said...

Loved hearing the stories of little ones asking Jesus into their hearts. That reason enough to do things a little crazy!

Joan Husby said...

Pandamonia! What a marvelous idea, and what a great job of explaining you do in this post. The photos are phabulous!