Summertime is Vacatian Bible School time. Every church on every block is hosting a different VBS with a different theme. VBS programs are so prevalent that instead of paying for a full-time summer camp, many parents enroll their children in sequential VBS programs in their town and that fills their child's summer calendar.
Still, there are many Houston kids who do not have the opportunity to attend VBS due to cost, lack of transportation or the fact that in their part of the city no church has one on offer.
In an effort to reach children and families in the Aldine area Iglesia Cristiana Emanuel, St. John Cypress and LINC Houston partnered together to offer a VBS at the Deerfield Apartment Complex at I-45 and the Beltway from June 25-27.
The three day event was an awesome success. With over 55 volunteers and 35-50 children, in addition to their families, in attendance everyday the event was tantamount to a big block party at the apartment complex.
"The kids in these apartments do not have the means to attend VBS like suburban kids," said Katie Thomas, Mission Team Co-ordinator at LINC Houston.
"The vision is to bring VBS to them so that they can hear the Gospel, experience the love of Christ and share the good news with their friends and neighbors," she said, "but to do that you have to go to the people and meet needs in their community."
Folks from St. John, Iglesia Cristiana Emanuel and a volunteer group from ACTS Lakeway in Austin, TX did just that. For three days the teams worked tirelessly in the oppressive heat cooking hot dogs, making sno-cones, singing songs, telling and translating the Bible story, playing games and making crafts with the kids.
It was a traditional VBS, in the untraditional setting of an apartment complex's parking lot.
Pastor Nelson Rodriguez of Iglesia Cristiana Emanuel and Pastor Steven DeMik of St. John Cypress built bridges with the community, but also connected with the administrators at the apartment complex. The complex allowed the churches exclusive use of the shaded parking lot area and also offered storage for tables, chairs and other VBS items throughout the week.
"Having the right location helps determine whether the event will be a success or well received," said Pastor DeMik.
This positive relationship between the churches, the community and the complex is just beginning. In December they hope to hold their Toys for Joy event at the same location in December.
Thomas said, "When a group of believers branches out of their comfort zone and reaches out to people where they are most comfortable, transformation begins to happen and seeds are planted."
Certainly, seeds were planted. Perhaps in December they will start to bloom.
*To see more photos from the event, visit our Facebook album.