VBS Faith Stories
Vacation Bible School is typically the largest evangelistic outreach program for children in local congregations during the calendar year. As such, the Arkansas Conference Council on Children’s Ministries designates a significant portion of their annual budget for VBS Mini-Grants to help smaller churches reach out to the children in their communities. Here are some stories from this year’s VBS Mini-Grant recipients describing how they impacted the lives of the children around them.
Great ministry is happening through VBS in our churches! Through the sharing of these stories, our hope is that we can give a glimpse of that and inspire others to join in on the children’s ministry journey.
Bethel United Methodist Church Jacksonville, AR – Central District
2014 – Workshop of Wonders!
We had a wonderful year this year at vacation bible school. We did do a few new things this year. We had new youth directors so this was our first year to direct vacation bible school. As always there were a few bumps in the road, but nothing that we didn’t learn from to make next year even better. We were blessed to receive this grant because we are such a small church. Normal attendance on a normal Sunday is anywhere from 30-40. To get prepared for VBS we used this grant to purchase postcards to handout to the kids to invite friends, family, or anyone that they could think of to come and spread the word. We also passed them out at a local restaurant in the area. We also purchased a banner for the church. We placed it in front of our church so that the community knew we were having VBS that week. We also purchased prizes, that if the kids could recite the bible verse for the night and the book of the bible it was from they got a treat. We also used some of the money for a family fellowship party at the end of the week to celebrate. This included hamburgers, hot dogs, and a water slide for the kids to enjoy. This gave us a chance to get to meet the parents and talk and get to know them. The first night was held on a Sunday night and we had our normal kids about 13 kids in attendance. The second night our normal kids were there, but kids just kept coming through the doors. We had 26 kids on Monday and they proceeded to attend the rest of the week. We had a few girls that were from a not so good family life and you could tell they really enjoyed the love and fun friendships they made while attending. They are still attending which really put a smile on my face every Sunday morning. We had a family that also attended that stayed the whole time every night, they said they were between churches and was looking for a church family that really felt like a family not just a number in the church. They have also continued to stay. On the following Sunday Morning we filled up the front of our little church, we did our program for the parents. We had on attendance that day 85. We have been through a lot of changes for our little church, and I pray that they continue to get better with each day. Next year we plan on getting the postcards again and mailing within a mile range from our church address. We also are planning on breaking up into more age appropriate groups. We are truly blessed and thankful!!!
– Miranda Nicholson and Carrie Garner
The Calico Rock United Methodist Church and the Calico Rock Cumberland Presbyterian Church partnered together to hold Vacation Bible School, August 3 through August 6 each night from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. This year’s theme was SonTreasure Island, a tropical theme that featured a surfing rubber chicken. Over 50 children, 8 youth and 25 adults participated in bible school.
Among the subjects explored in Bible School were: God Gives us Jesus; Jesus Helps a Young Girl and a Sick Woman; and Jesus Forgives Zacchaeus. Each day children discovered the treasures that God has for each and every one of us. On the first night children learned that God’s love is a treasure. The second night they learned that patience is not only a treasure but a characteristic of the love of God. On the third night the treasure that discovered was forgiveness. Finally, children attending Bible School learned that generosity is a treasure as well.
The lesson of generosity was reinforced each night through an offering given by the children. To help them fully understand the joy of giving a contest was held between the boys and girls. At the end of each night the winners of the contest were announce with the winners being allowed to choose a prize from a real live treasure chest. By the end of the week the boys had given $206.73, while the girls had raised $249.54 for a grand total of $456.27. The children’s offering is going to The Fill-a-Bowl 5k Food room program to feed hungry children in the Calico Rock School District.
It wasn’t only children learning at the SonTreasure Island Bible School, there was also an adult class led by Dr. Tom Campbell of the Calico Rock Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Dr. Campbell led a study on the formation of the bible. This study covered the history, politics and theology that shaped the bible we have today.
Bible School ended with a Family Night on Wednesday, August 6. Parents were treated to performance by their children, an overview of the week’s lessons and activities, and a souvenir picture of their child. The evening’s program was followed by an opportunity for children to show off the crafts they had made and give their families a tour of their classrooms. The evening ended with children, parents and volunteers enjoying a meal of hot dogs and watermelon together.
If it had not been for a mini-grant offered by the Arkansas United Methodist Conference, this VBS could not have happened. As a small church in a small community financing Bible School can often be a challenge. This mini-grant helped to ease that burden. The children who attended SonTreasure Island were definitely grateful for the opportunity to discover Jesus Christ in a fun and inviting way.
Additionally, the community of Calico Rock was able to experience Christ’s true vision for the church as United Methodists and Cumberland Presbyterians worked together to share the gospel. By joining forces neither church was stretched for volunteers and relationships between each congregation were both made and strengthened. The entire community of Calico Rock was blessed by receiving this Vacation Bible School Mini-Grant.
Faith United Methodist Church Little Rock, AR – Central District
Trinity United Methodist Church Fayetteville, AR – Northwest District
Before VBS began, several church members distributed informational fliers to apartments within walking distance of the church. On the second night of VBS, 17 kids crowded into the van that was provided by Potter’s House. The excitement was electric! Several of these kids were in Middle School. Some of them were elementary and some were only 3 or 4 years old. Many of them work with Potter’s House in an after-school program at Trinity so they were familiar with Fellowship Hall which is also where we began our evening with dinner.
I noticed a boy, possibly seven years old, grab the hand of a little one…maybe 3 years of age and head toward the sanctuary. I stopped him and told him that we were not going into the sanctuary that night. He looked at me and said, “I just wanted to show my baby brother where God lives. We ain’t never been in a church before.”
With my heart full, I followed them to the sanctuary to observe. The little brother was quiet with big eyes. The older brother said, “See…I told you…Come here…He held his had up to the stained-glass window. “Look bubby,” he said. “If you hold your hand up to the blue, you’re blue!” Then he moved his brother’s hand to the orange panel, the sun was beginning to go down. “If you hold your hand up to the orange.” he looked at me and said, “That’s his favorite color.” “then your skin is orange. In here, it don’t matter what color skin you got.”
That week, we had the opportunity to show some children what “God’s house looked like.” We had the opportunity to sing, pray, eat, learn about God’s love, and have fun, knowing…That here, at Trinity United Methodist Church…”It don’t matter what color skin you got!”
I am thankful that approximately 40 children and their parents were able to eat with us, sing with us, and enjoy the fellowship that week of Vacation Bible School. Hopefully, the memory of the good times and learning that God loves us …NO MATTER WHAT…NO MATTER WHERE…NO MATTER WHO… will be a part of ALL of us as long as memory lasts!
Village United Methodist Church Hot Springs Village, AR – Southwest District
Our Vacation Bible School at Village United Methodist Church was a true “Workshop of Wonders”. As I’m sure all of the Bible schools experienced, we saw the joy and love of children for God every day. It was a true blessing to be a part of. God’s presence was obvious way before July though.
It began with dedicated volunteers who gave of their time to plan and prepare. We were thankful for them all indeed. We had our list of “needs” and checked them off one by one. We were READY!
Our plans however don’t always go as we plan them. Our trusty, always eager VBS music leader, much to her dismay, could no longer volunteer during VBS week. Our fantastic science teacher was very ill. We needed help with the recreation activities. We needed more decorations. It can be flustering those final days and hard to focus on the true purpose of VBS, showing God’s love.
Through prayers (paired with phone calls), all our “wants” were quickly met by fantastic volunteers. Grandparents worked with grown grandchildren while great grandchildren enjoyed VBS, Church members stepped in to fill the gaps, volunteers worked tirelessly to decorate the entire Church…
The children arrived Monday morning and learned of Jesus’ love for them thanks to all the donations of money, grants, time, talents, and goods from so many doing God’s work. Over 30 volunteers ensured that the 80 children who passed through our doors left knowing “God is Wonderful, WOW”! It was truly a “Workshop of Wonders”!
White Hall United Methodist Church White Hall, AR – Southeast District
Vacation Bible School 2014 was an incredible success at White Hall United Methodist Church. We had a record year in attendance, as over 90 children came to know the love of God in Christ. Our theme was “Wild Animals”, and we explored God’s amazing creativity and grace. I would say that our greatest success was not with the children alone, but also with their parents. White Hall UMC made a significant effort to get more parents involved this year, helping them to see what goes on, and getting them plugged into the community of faith. We saw a definite increase in the number of these families joining us in worship and other activities following VBS. We are so incredibly thankful for the grant that we received that allowed us to focus more on families than on financial issues. God was moving through this ministry, and we are already planning on how we can change more lives next year.