Summer 2023 was the seventh summer His Travelers hosted VBS in the Park. His Travelers is a team of young people tasked with supporting children’s programming including Vacation Bible School, day camps and community outreach projects. This special event, located in Ruth Park in Spokane, Washington, had 55 children in attendance.
“I wasn’t sure what VBS in the Park would be like,” shared Jonathan Kasper, His Travelers member. “I heard it was really fun, but I didn’t know what to expect. However, after planning it out with the team, I realize it is so much better than I was expecting.”
His Travelers is a program run through the Upper Columbia Conference children’s ministry department. The program began in 2010 and is currently led by Wendy Urbin, UCC children’s ministries administrative assistant.
His Travelers works hard every year assisting churches with putting on VBS programs across UCC to minister to hundreds of children. However, VBS in the Park is put on solely by His Travelers in a local public park.
“VBS in the Park began many years ago to provide a group of Nepalese refugees something for their children,” shared Gayle Haeger, UCC urban ministries coordinator. “The idea was to provide something close for the neighborhood children to come to.”
Since then, His Travelers has provided a VBS in the Park almost every year for the local children, except when the pandemic prevented it. What makes this VBS unique is that many of the participating children are refugees. This year, children from Nepal, Congo, Russia and Ukraine, along with other neighborhood children, were in attendance.
“I look forward to leading the His Travelers team as they lead out VBS in the Park each summer,” shared Urbin. “It is such a blessing to serve these precious children from many nationalities to share Jesus’ love! It is so meaningful to see them have fun, smile, share, eat together, become friends and fellowship with each other and the team.”
Unlike years prior when His Travelers had the summer to prepare for VBS in the Park, this year’s event was held earlier than expected. This was not a problem for the group of five. They began planning and quickly created their own VBS program, being sure to include singing, games, snacks, crafts and Bible stories.
“VBS in the Park is basically a homemade VBS program,” said Kasper. “We come up with everything from scratch, looking for materials here and there to provide. It’s so impactful because I see these kids having so much fun and enjoying the program, and without VBS in the Park, they may never get to know Jesus.”
The theme for the 2023 VBS in the Park was “The Lord’s Prayer.” Each day, His Travelers — Emmalyn Logan, Melani Dubon, Jonathan Kasper and Rachel Johnston — taught a new section with a script written by each member. The group made the book of Matthew come alive for the children using puppets. The children were so engaged and listened intently.
“VBS in the Park is a unique experience because over time, I've gotten to know a lot of the kids who come every year,” shared Logan. “This summer was special because one of our volunteers, a girl who came to the very first VBS in the Park when she was younger, now was able to help. That's really cool to me, because it means that VBS in the Park is making an impact on a lot of these kids. It’s a good reminder to me that even just one week, given to God, can make a difference.”
His Travelers continued the summer and participated in 10 VBS programs and two Adventist Community Services projects. “The team is such a blessing to the children within UCC,” said Haeger.