Hundreds of smiling children in colorful T-shirts, leaders and helpers all with cheerful countenances, English, and fun–all easily spotted at first glance. We have really enjoyed the 14th Vacation Bible School during this past week in Martin’s Memorandum Square.
Vacation Bible School (VBS) was first organized by the Bible School in Martin in cooperation with eleven American friends from St. Andrews in Minnesota, and Kathryn and Bob Jandeska from Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, Illinois. This year an unbelievable 230 children between the ages of 3-11 years participated. Children were organized into 9 colorful teams. St. Augustine’s observation, “Who sings, prays twice”, completely demonstrated this observation during VBS week. In addition to singing, the children played sports, watched Biblical mini-dramas, and listened to engaging Bible stories, all the while thoroughly enjoying themselves. The end result gave everyone present tremendous cause to rejoice – we had been found by our God (main theme of VBS, note).
The first day reminded the children of Christ´s initial teaching experience as a young boy in the temple (Luke 2:41-52). The next day the children took an imaginary journey back to the Sea of Galilee where they fished with the disciples Simon, Andrew and John, learning how important it is to preach the gospel to their neighbors and so become “fishers of men” (Luke 5:1 -11). On the third day of VBS the children were brought to a meadow where they joined the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who had been searching for a beloved lost sheep (Luke 15:1-10). The children, on the fourth day, learned that Jesus called us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. (Luke 10:25-37). The final VBS lesson concluded on Friday with an emphasis on the scriptural instruction found in the Gospel of Mark, in which God calls all His followers to bring others with love to Him (Mark 2:1-12).
This year’s five-day VBS came to a close with a delightfully lively afternoon presentation by the children, in Memorandum Square in Martin. This program was attended by dozens of parents and grandparents, as well as teachers from Minnesota. In his speech, Bohdan Hrobon, director of the Bible School in Martin, expressed appreciation for the helpful support of the students from the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Žilina and also the assistance of pupils from the Lutheran Academy in Martin. Bohdan called these young people fruit of previous years of American´s ministry in VBS. “Many of these students and pupils were children fourteen years ago and the first participants in the VBS that started in July 2001. Now it is even more rewarding to see these children and youth today, as they involve themselves in practical ministry to their younger friends.” Paul Berge, head of Project Vision Slovakia, likewise recognized the skills of these youth; he also expressed gratitude for the confidence and trust with which parents bring their children each year to the VBS.
As we mentioned earlier, VBS in Martin began in 2001 when Americans from the church of St. Andrew’s in Minnesota visited Martin to prepare children for Slovak-English Christian camp. Cooperation has evolved over the years between American partners and friends and the Bible school in Martin so that this effort continues to grow because of a common goal – the desire to demonstrate a faith in the Lord God that is not about rules or strict self-denial, but a faith which allows us to talk about the Lord God and have meaningful fellowship together. Participating in and demonstrating this kind of faith give children the opportunity to see that the church consists not only of Sunday worship service, but also of building a living, caring, vibrant community of brothers and sisters.
For more photo’s see our Photo Gallery