A "Deep" Experience at VBS -- Karen Summerlin, VBS Director
Each year, the week of Vacation Bible School is preceded by months of preparation. Then it seems to pass in a flash, leaving behind a swirling sea of images and memories from the week.
Scuba gear, edible arks, Ocho the octopus, a miraculous pond full of fish, pledges to flags, water bottle fish, Namaan with oatmeal covered arms, faith insights from science experiments, children shouting,“Dive in!”at the top of their lungs.
. . . And dive in they did! This year’s theme was Operation Overboard: Dare to Go Deep with God. The goal of the week was to challenge our kids to dive into the waters of God’s Word in order to discover what it means to have deep faith.
The first day our ocean was already teeming with activity as about 75 children joined together in their various “schools”: the clownfish, starfish, seahorses, jellyfish, sea turtles, dolphins, and sharks. The over 70 volunteers, who put in countless hours to prepare and lead our children through this underwater adventure, did a tremendous job. And every time the waves got rough and it seemed like we might be in over our heads, there was someone ready to throw out a life preserver! I am so thankful to work and worship with such a dedicated group of leaders.
On two separate days, we were able to recognize how our own experiences seemed to intersect with the Bible story of the day. On the first day, after early morning torrential rains, we focused on the story of Noah and his family and how they depended on God. The rain could have dampened our spirits, but instead it seemed God had sent the rain as a perfect backdrop to our day.
On Thursday, our Bible story took place on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus told Peter and his friends to cast their nets to other side of the boat, leading to a miraculous catch and the men choosing to become disciples of Jesus. On that day we had our own example of a miraculous catch. Throughout the week, we collected money for a mission project to build and stock a fish pond in Malawi to provide better nutrition and economic stimulus in that area. The first three days we collected only about $125 toward our $500 goal. Much like the disciples fishing through the night, I found myself lacking faith, thinking our goal would not be met. During our closing time on Thursday, we had the chance to feel the same kind of excitement and amazement the disciples felt – our total had reached $498. No one could have been more surprised than me! By the last day we had collected nearly $600.
Over the past years I have helped to lead many different themes for VBS – cooking, outer space, camping, surfing, and even a ranch – but each year I come away with the same overwhelming sentiment. What a blessing it is to be a part of a church community where so many people come together to help shape the faith of our children!