During the first week of the July school holidays, a group of passionate volunteers from Adventist churches in the Hamilton area of New Zealand gathered at Hamilton Central Seventh-day Adventist Church to run a Vacation Bible School (VBS) themed “Treasured” for 80 children.
“The group of children were a good mixture of churched and non-churched kids from within our community, with some children genuinely hearing about Gods love for the very first time,” explained volunteer Rose Varty.
All 15 students in the Hamilton Central Juniors Sabbath school class (aged 9-12 years) were given an opportunity to step up as leaders and, under the mentorship of their teacher Mrs Varty, helped plan the VBS for months.
“They served with great enthusiasm as they learned how to lead other children to Christ, the experience for all who attended including the volunteers was empowering,” said Mrs Varty. “It was intergenerational service at its best, from the youngest team member being nine years old to the oldest in their mid 70s,” said Mrs Varty.
Each day, children were given the opportunity to explore the “jungle”, with volunteers having decorated the rooms and hallways with ancient ruins, trees, plants and jungle critters. All activities revolved around one Bible point and one jungle animal each day, so that children could remember and take home a clear message: God knows you, God hears you, God comforts you, God forgives you and God chooses you, respectively. These messages were taken into the homes of families that may have never read the Bible before.
“Each day as a team, we were privileged to hear incredible testimonies from parents and leaders about the impact the program was having on their kids,” said Mrs Varty. “Little children grasping how treasured they are to their creator God.
“Hamilton Central chose to run a VBS as a way to reach kids in the surrounding community . . . to help them navigate themselves through a broken and uncertain world, and learn that they are loved and valued by their Creator God, where so many are left to feel unworthy or hopeless,” said Mrs Varty.