VBS 2018:… Awesome, AWEsome, AWESOME
What a truly fantastic experience VBS was for the children and youth along with Bintu and her team of teachers and mentors. I’ll recap the two-week spiritual and educational journey in two newsletters; there is so much to tell you, and there are many great photos to show you. Of note, FHA’s VBS is the ONLY VBS in Bukavu, a city of around 1 million in population.
FHA’s Kanega Education Center registered 165 children for VBS-2018; the maximum possible due to space constraints. Unfortunately, some students had to be turned away. (Facility expansion continues to be a prayer and financial concern). So let’s jump in…
On the first day, the teachers quickly introduced all the classes to this year’s theme: Can I be a leader like Nehemiah? – based on the Biblical book of Nehemiah. The children were also taught Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” With these scriptural foundations, the teachers asked the children, “Do you cry because of ruin?” – as Nehemiah cried. These studies focused on three dimensions of ruin surrounding Bukavu families: Physical: roads, buildings, etc.; Moral: corruption, theft, rape, injustice; Spiritual: false gospel churches, hypocritical Christians. The teachers led discussions of “How do we react to all that?” Am I bothered at all? Do I cry like Nehemiah?
Our teachers were enthusiastic about this theme, and the younger children participated eagerly in each day’s lessons and activities. As in most cultures, the youth were a bit more of a challenge—as anyone who has raised teenagers can attest. However, Bintu discussed strategies with her team to break the ice with the youth and they soon joined in.
Words from Nehemiah echoed throughout the first week as the teachers guided sub-themes, the first on PRAYER. “When Nehemiah heard all those negative things … he sat down, cried, … fasted and prayed … for his family, his people and his country.” (Neh. 1:4) Nehemiah’s repentance and confession were analyzed along with how Israel had strayed from God. Prayer should be habit forming!
Talking about SACRIFICE is always a challenge: The message was about being willing to sacrifice something for the benefit of the whole community—as Nehemiah did. In Bukavu and in this modern world where we are so used to seeking more and more comforts, conveying a message about sacrificing some or all of what you have to help others is quite difficult. Our teachers met the challenge and we believe every child left with a sense of God’s principle of sacrifice.
On Thursday the team introduced, DO I HAVE A VISION AND A GOAL? Many of our young people here do not have any goals or a vision for their life. It’s easy for them to start living in somebody else’s steps, being easily used, because they have no ambition. We taught them that Nehemiah had a clear vision—to go and rebuild the destroyed city. No ambiguity! Our children’s thoughts for the DRC were very interesting.
TEAMWORK: Do I seek to work together with other builders and leaders, like Nehemiah did? Here, we wanted to show the importance of the body and bringing everybody together to support a common cause. We emphasized older people’s inclusion. For example, in many of today’s churches, the youth have chosen loud music that is excluding older folks. Thus, young people do not benefit from the advice that older people have to offer. We emphasized that leaders must choose the best services that bring people together to build together!
WOW! What a first week. Stay tuned for details on the final week of VBS – which was truly incredible. We always want to thank YOU – our prayer and financial partners – nothing happens without your support.
Look for PART TWO of our awesome VBS story soon…
For His Grace and Glory,