by Lisa Tome
Stand strong for God.
That was the message during the annual Vacation Bible School at Grace Bible Chapel near Rising Sun.
Nearly 200 people attended the VBS each night. There were classes for young children through adults. High school students served as helpers. Each night, various families within the church led skits with a biblical message. Skits were staged at the beginning and end of each evening.
Lisa Crouse served as director of the VBS at Grace Bible Chapel. She explained that a church committee spends about seven months planning and preparing for Bible school. The theme was pre-packaged but elaborate sets featuring a castle were built by volunteers.
Crouse said that volunteers have a key role in making VBS successful. "The people want to help. We don't have to beg and plead. People just show up and say 'put me somewhere'," Crouse said.
The VBS participants rotated in and out of various stations which included music, snack, outdoor games, missions, and imagination (crafts). As part of the missions activity, the church partnered with World Vision in a campaign to raise money to send Bibles to India. Those who attended also had some Hindi language lessons.
Last week's intense heat didn't hamper activities. Keith Young, who was dressed as a knight and wore a name tag identifying him as Sir Watch A Lot, explained that outdoor games were still held. Some of the outdoor activities were water-based. Other games had children outdoors for about 15 minutes. Young said the children were closely monitored to keep them safe from the heat. But while there was plenty of fun to be had, the focus was on God.
The five messages shared during the week were that God's love helps us stand strong, family and friends help us stand strong, prayer helps us stand strong, trusting God helps us stand strong, and the Bible helps us stand strong.
Bible school is a tool which churches use as outreach. Crouse said that those who attended at Grace Bible Chapel were a mix of people who attend the church and those who don't. "There are a lot of strangers here. Some stay around. For some this is an introduction. They are hearing about Jesus for the first time," she said.
Whether they stick with the church or not, they have memories and souvenirs. Each child received five dog tags on a necklace with the various stand strong messages. They also received a plastic wristband which was part of the "God Sightings" lesson. Each family with children at VBS received a free CD which included all the songs that were learned during the week.
"They go home with a lot and they have a good time learning about Jesus," Crouse added.