Chosen to Connect

The advertisements seemingly hadn’t worked. Just three children showed up for the first couple days of Maranatha Church’s Vacation Bible School.

Nitza Salazar, Washington Conference children’s ministry leader, and her teen leaders were discouraged. They started praying. Then they decided to knock on a few extra neighborhood doors.

Day 3 arrived and seven children showed up. The team kept praying.

Day 4 began and 21 children arrived. The team rejoiced!

“We saw God answer our prayers and offer us a boost of encouragement,” Salazar said.

Restarting a Vacation Bible School program after a pandemic hiatus has its challenges. To help ease the transition, Salazar offered to bring a traveling VBS team to six church partners — Mount Vernon, Auburn City, Maranatha, Port Orchard, Seattle Spanish and Poulsbo.

Teen leaders from Auburn City Church helped with set up. They interacted with the children and began to grow leadership experience.

“Getting to meet new people and kids everywhere is so cool,” said Aitza Cendejas.

“I never thought before about how much time and effort it takes to run a VBS,” said Jackie Romero.

“I’m not a very outgoing person," said Savannah Loken, "but before long I was on my feet doing the motions to the songs and talking with new leaders from each church that I hadn’t met yet. It’s been truly amazing to watch the kids come out of their comfort zones, too.”

Additional churches hosted their own VBS experiences. Renton and Mount Tahoma both opted for virtual programs, Chehalis Church planned four summer weekends and the Edmonds and Monroe churches both had stellar turnouts.

“Not only is VBS great for connecting with the community, it is also a place to connect with each other again,” Salazar said.

Vacation Bible School had an added benefit: an increase in Sabbath School attendance. Auburn City Church, for example, had 30 additional children show up to Sabbath School following VBS. The VBS programs also promoted Adventist Education.

“We ended each VBS by showing our community how each school can be like a VBS experience where children can learn and connect with God on a daily basis by attending our schools,” Salazar shares. “VBS helps connect our community to additional ministries that our churches offer.”

Featured in: September/October 2021