Lynn Haven Baptist Church in Vinton reached out to the community last week with a Vacation Bible School extravaganza, “Shipwrecked: Rescued by Jesus.”
About 100 children from the church and the community attended each evening from June 18 through the 22nd, with a grand finale during the Sunday worship service on June 24.
Each night during the week, children and their leaders gathered in the sanctuary for an opening activity and returned there at the end of the evening. In between there were Bible lessons, outdoor water activities, crafts, music, games, skits, characters (a pirate, monkeys, and sharks) and dinner (think spaghetti, hot dogs, chicken tenders).
Lynn Haven counts this year’s VBS as quite successful in that they were able to reach many children for Christ. Twenty-seven children made professions of faith on just one momentous evening.
Vacation Bible School is an intensive, activity-filled program many churches offer, usually during the summer for children in their own congregations, but also as a community outreach to connect with the children and families in the area who may not attend church. Most churches see VBS as missionary work on the local level– a means of fulfilling the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.”
A pastor’s wife, Walker Aylette Hawes, is credited with organizing the first Vacation Bible School in 1898 in New York City, as a way to keep children off the streets in the summertime. She is said to have rented the only space available, a large beer hall in the East Side, to conduct what she named “Everyday Bible School.” The idea expanded in New York and eventually worldwide. Statistics show that last year two-thirds of the churches in America offered VBS programs.
Many Christian publishing companies offer curricula to guide churches in setting up and running a VBS program more efficiently and helping children to discover God in a creative way. This is the route Lynn Haven took in choosing the “Shipwrecked” program.
The nightly lessons focused on the ways that Jesus comes to the rescue— when we are lonely, worried, struggling, powerless, or have done wrong– with supporting Scripture from the New Testament, sharing parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost Prodigal Son; of worrywart Martha whose home Jesus visited; of the respite Jesus sought in the Garden of Gethsemane as his crucifixion loomed; of the criminal he pardoned as He hung on the cross; and of the disciples healing in His name.
Last year during Vacation Bible School, Lynn Haven Pastor Jason Hay stated that “this church will do virtually anything to reach youth,” and he proved that statement again this year, building a wooden boat on the stage in the church sanctuary with the help of congregation members and a 10-foot-tall working waterfall in the baptistry.
All children from the community were invited to attend, ages preschool through grade 5. Tiffany Hay, Pastor Hay’s wife, served as director of VBS with Cheri Williams as music director.
Dozens of volunteers assisted with the Lynn Haven Bible School, including those constructing the sets, registering participants, leading recreation and craft activities, counting the money raised for charity, working in the kitchen, teaching Bible study, taking photos and making videos, and leading devotions, to name just a few of the tasks accomplished.
“God has once again blessed me with an incredible VBS staff,” said Director Tiffany Hay. “The excitement for VBS could be felt by everyone. Over 80 people volunteered to help and I did not have to ask one person! A special thank you to each one who poured out God’s love this past week. I could not have asked for a better team!”
Pastor Hay said that the youth of the church, led by Jason Roth, Minister to Students, were invaluable not just during Bible School, but prior to— with designing and decorating each classroom.
This year’s charity focus was a penny drive contest between the boys and girls to raise funds for the local “Least of These” ministry for the homeless and impoverished in the Roanoke Valley.
The church scheduled a follow-up program for VBS on June 27 with inflatables, an obstacle course, and an ice cream social.