Every year our church has Good News Neighborhood Club in June. That's code for Vacation Bible School. This isn't just Bible School; it's a production of enormous proportions. An army of volunteers begins canvassing the neighborhood in May, leaving information at homes and apartments in our south downtown area. Our church is located almost adjacent to the railroad, which historically was a great place to be. In recent years the population has moved "out," as is the case with most cities. The older houses and apartments in the downtown area are now considered "inner city" and "economically depressed areas". Our city is an IRC city--International Refugee Committee. I write all that as explanation of what the "neighborhood" means.
So after the canvassing, much prayer and preparation, the week long event starts. Our Children's Director--Mr. Guy--is a gift from God. He loves, loves, loves these kids and their families. He loves our church kids and their families. He prays. He walks door to door. He cleans up. He does it all. This year he partnered with The Mission, a church that ministers directly to the homeless and street people, to get their children to GNNC. There were vans, a bus, vans from The Mission, and private cars. And horses.
OK. That had nothing to do with transportation and everything to do with the theme which was Western, curriculum by Lifeway. Each evening the children ages K-5th grade arrived and were fed a complete, nutritious meal. Since I taught two days and went out of town one day I volunteered on Wednesday only. The meal, cooked by a small army of kitchen help, was spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, and breadsticks. Delicious! Three of the six white horses from a local university came to visit one evening. PE specialists planned activities in the gym each evening and each class had a turn with them. Bill and Sandy and their sidekick, Ginger, served up great music with lots of appropriate motions to help them remember the lyrics all summer. Artsy-crafty people had projects planned each evening. You should have seen that room! Beads, glue, markers, sticky foam, photographs, boxes, paper, bookmarks, craft sticks--organized and disorganized sticky fun everywhere. The story room was a campfire (flashlight, paper, fan) with bales of hay and glowing stars overhead. Many lessons were shared by the firelight. Each evening wrapped up with more songs in the gym.
At the end of the week statistics don't lie. Over 300 people were fed on family night. An average of 155 children attended each evening. And twelve little children gave their hearts to Jesus! Seventy seven new, first time attendees will have new Bibles delivered to them personally at home by Mr. Guy and Pastor David.
All photos in this post by Greg Kendall-Ball of the Abilene Reporter News.