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Having a ball while learning about Jesus at VBS

What do you do with 170 youngsters for three hours a day?


Mary Kellye Sparks (left) and Laura Smith (right) help VBS students like Ethan Chamineak (center) with crafts.
Photo by Kristopher Wells
For five days last week volunteers from Thomson's First Baptist Church shepherded them through SonGames 2004- the church's Vacation Bible School effort.

Four-year-old Jase Ivery said the week was full of Jesus.

"We learned a lot about Jesus," he said. "We played in the basketball gym, but the best thing was Jesus. I can't wait until next year when I can come back."

Beverly Guy, a paraprofessional at Thomson High School and in her 14th year as director or co-director, said the reason behind the effort was quite simple.

"I just love the children and I just think it's a wonderful mission opportunity right here in Thomson," she said.

Co-director Amy Lemley said her heart was especially soft to a certain cluster of children.

"I'm here for all these kids. But for me, the ones that my heart goes out to are the ones who you can tell don't get a lot of attention any place else. I can hug them and they can hug me and they get attention with no strings attached," she said.

Ms. Lemley stated one of the tough aspects of the week was keeping the kids' interest. During the week-long Olympic-themed event, youngsters jumped, screamed, and some stood on chairs shouting the name of countries they represented.

"We have to make learning fun. They have been in school all year and they are out for the summer. They don't want to come to more school. We brought them in, had a rally where we sang Christian songs. They listen to regular radio and are getting all of these bad messages, but here, they learn there are rowdy, happy songs they can learn. We gave them Jesus, but we gave them fun too," she said.


Newt Powell (left) and Abigail Dupree put in their offering during the opening ceremonies at First Baptist Thomson's SonGames Vacation Bible School.
Photo by Kristopher Wells
Ms. Lemley said the gathering of children could not be carried out without the help of close to six dozen volunteers from the congregation.

"I worked with the three-year-olds. I helped them with crafts and things," said 13-year-old Hollis Wells. "I love to work with kids. It means a lot to the kids and if you can touch their hearts at a young age, they will remember. So many children don't get to learn about God, and here, they have a fun place like VBS. It's really great for them and for me."

Kellie Johnson, 12, said the learning was cool. "There was fun and games. Part of the fun was learning that Jesus forgave us of our sins and we learned about Paul."

Danielle Kress said she was invited to the school. "I learned how Saul's name changed from Saul to Paul and he got blind. It was fun learning how he served God even though he was blind."

While the effort takes three months to scheme, it all comes down to a grinding two weeks that often leaves the volunteers fulfilled and tired.

"This week was easier than last. Last week was the rush with getting everything we had planned in line. You've got to get your supplies and people in place," said Ms. Lemley.

Ms. Guy, summed up the outreach saying she hoped the children had a good time.

"We hope they know they can come here and have a good time, but that they are also going to learn the Bible and learn about Jesus and that's the most important thing. You can have all the fun you want, but Jesus is the reason you do it," she said.


Chase Smith plays with a balloon at First Baptist of Thomson's VBS.
Photo by Kristopher Wells


Elizabeth Hammond leads Taylor Guerrero along the "stepping stones."
Photo by Kristopher Wells

Web posted on Thursday, June 17, 2004

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