Each summer, over 400 people gather at Third for Vacation Bible School, over 250 children and over 150 youth and adult volunteers! As a part of our VBS week, we designate a mission and encourage our children to bring offering money to support a particular project. The participants get very excited about the project, doing extra chores, hosting lemonade stands, saving their money, in order to be part of something local OR global!
This year a team of incredibly gifted volunteers wrote and developed the Mission Possible curriculum. As we met frequently to pray and to seek God's direction for the whole week of VBS, I prayed that God would lead us to the right project, something our children could understand, something that might go along with our theme, something that would allow our children to make a big difference.
As I prayed, the Holy Spirit kept leading me to the persecuted church. What project could we support that would begin to teach our children about the persecuted church, men and women truly at risk for the sake of the Gospel. I met with Tom Widmer, from The Outreach Foundation, to share my thoughts and see if he had any ideas. Out of that meeting came an introduction to the Aleppo Presbyterian Church, a church bombed several years ago, a church whose pastor is passionate to stay in Syria and be a strong Christian witness.
We set a goal of $5000 and started to educate the congregation about the project. Through pre-VBS t-shirt sales, a partnership with Zoe's Kitchen and Sweet Frog, and the unbelievable generosity of the VBS participants and members and friends of the Third Family, we way exceeded our goal, bringing in over $9000!
Here is a response from Pastor Nsier about the funds raised:
"It is really great to receive this news. I'm really thankful to all of you for the great effort you did. I want you to get my gratitude to the pastor of the church who did creative work to bring happiness to the children of Sunday school . I want to assure you that the contribution of your Sunday school will be used to facilitate introducing the children to God. The money that was collected in the VBS will be used in this way:
1- We will buy furniture to be used for Sunday school ( desks - chairs - moving boards - cupboards - cooler)
2 - We will buy ( LCD - DVD - Overhead Projector )
3 - We will buy educational material and supplies .
4 - We will buy fuel for the generator to have electricity .
May the lord bless our plans for his glory."
What a beautiful privilege to be a part of such an exciting project. My prayer is that our children continue to see that they can make a difference in the world. Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Aleppo.
(Photos of the newly constructed church in Aleppo, Syria and Pastor Nsier with some of the children.)