By Stan Friedman
MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA (September 18, 2014) — Katie Isaza, a Covenant project missionary serving in Colombia, says the money raised by children in the United States and Canada through a special vacation Bible school project will go a long way toward helping churches in the Latin American country minister to at-risk children and other families.
Each year, Covenant World Mission sponsors a VBS program that gives kids in North America a chance to learn about how God is moving in other countries and to participate in that work. This year, the project focused on Colombia.
“New Covenant churches in Colombia are reaching out to individuals and families, and people are coming to faith,” says Isaza. “The children are a vital part of the life and growth in these new churches, and according to statistics make up 50 percent of the Covenant church population.”
Many of the Colombia churches are located in low-income neighborhoods and operate with very small budgets as they reach out to at-risk populations in low-income neighborhoods. “They want to disciple children and create a welcoming environment that stimulates learning and faith development,” Isaza says, “but they often lack the resources. The money raised by the children in North America will enable churches to purchase Bibles, basic equipment, and furniture, as well as educational materials, while creating resources for ongoing teacher training.”
At the same time, the free VBS materials used in North America gave participants the opportunity to get a better sense of Colombian culture and what life is like for children in that country. Kids participated in Colombian traditions, games, and songs, and ate foods typically eaten in the country.
The children’s enthusiastic participation demonstrated how much they wanted to help their Colombian counterparts and often inspired their VBS leaders. So far, churches have turned in $17,000 from their VBS programs, and more is expected, says Sarah Buki of Serve Globally, which includes World Mission.
In Kingsburg, California, enthusiasm built throughout the week. Each day, students brought in money to purchase Bibles. On the last day, they raised more money than they had in the previous three combined, says Paulette Satterberg, the congregation’s connection coordinator.
One child gave all of his savings, which he had intended to use to buy a special game. The boy’s generosity inspired even the adults.
The VBS also helped local ministries. Donors already had promised to match the amount of funds the children raise for Colombia and donate those funds to the Kingsburg Community Assistance Program (KCAPS) to provide food for the hungry.
Fifth and sixth graders led a food drive to benefit KCAPS. They delivered empty grocery bags around the community on a Tuesday and picked them up on Thursday. By Thursday, they had filled two large bins.
“The kids were so excited to give,” said Kassie Posladek of Hillcrest Covenant Church in Prairie Village, Kansas. “Many of them raised money by doing extra chores at home and putting out lemonade stands in their neighborhoods.”