The Gainesville, Ga., Church, during the week of June 4, 2018, was transformed into the town of Capernaum as they participated in Vacation Bible School (VBS): Sea of Miracles, where children learned about the life and ministry of Jesus.
VBS is one of Gainesville’s highlight evangelistic events of the year. This year, led by Kathy Gossett, they registered 27 children and 22 support staff members. Fourteen of the children were not Adventists. Volunteers dressed in era-appropriate tunics, while the children participated in singing songs on the North Shore of Galilee, hearing stories about Jesus and Peter at Simona’s House, and using their creativity with crafts at Beit Saida Village. Later, they enjoyed some prayer time up on the mountaintop, and then exerted energy playing games in the Shepherds’ Field. All of these modules highlighted the miracles that the disciples experienced with Jesus.
Along with VBS being evangelistic-driven, the event is also made to be mission-driven. Every year they look at how they can support their local community, whether it is collecting shoes for refugee children, giving stuffed animals to the local police and fire departments, or, this year, collecting donations for the Georgia Mountain Food Bank. Every day the children were challenged to bring at least one nonperishable food item, and at the end of the week, they had collected more than 150 pounds of food. It has shown to be a great means of getting the children thinking about how they can help serve.
The week capped off with a cache of 1,000 water balloons and a hot Georgia afternoon as the children and some adult volunteers watered the grass, but mostly themselves, with a water balloon challenge. Afterwards, homemade ice cream was served while everyone dried out and fellowshipped together as the leaders passed out bags with all the crafts that had been made throughout the week.
All of this is typical for a Gainesville VBS, but one thing happened that helped visualize what Jesus has called His own to do — to be a witness to Christ. Four of the VBS children were baptized during the special VBS Sabbath on June 9, 2018.
With no pressure or prodding from their parents, Manuel, Maria, Jeremiah, and Emma made the decision on their own to follow Jesus, and participated in Bible study prior to VBS. Each child gave their testimony that they wanted to follow the example of Christ, and go out and witness to their friends, family, and anyone else who does not know Jesus. These four children soon found out how much of a witness they were, as about eight hands from other VBS children said they were interested in baptism. Juanfer Monsalve, pastor, is now planning a new baptismal class.
VBS is often thought of as being just fun and games, and an excuse to go crazy with decorations. For the Gainesville Church, it happily amounted to more souls for Christ’s Kingdom.
Every year they count on volunteer support and creative minds to transform the weekly worship center into a themed VBS destination that will appeal to the senses and transport guests into a fun-learning environment that they enjoy. Gainesville church members encourage members in churches that do not host a Vacation Bible School to support one in some way — it’s fun, there’s a lot to be learned, and there is always the possibility of winning souls for Jesus!
Georgia-Cumberland | August 2018