With a limited budget but with lots of love and dedication, the teachers at the church’s Vacation Bible School used creativity, artistic skills and above all, imagination, to take children on a colorful educational tour.
Teachers were given an overall theme for this year’s VBS — The Jesus Expedition — and then were given themes for each of their individual rooms. They used their own creativity and love of learning to create colorful destinations for the children.
“We have two teachers per room,” said New and Living Way’s VBS director Carman Gibson. “Our assistant director Stephanie Dennis and I came up with the overall theme and the individual themes and the teachers started getting materials together and working on the rooms since our first meeting in June.”
New and Living Way is located off Kingston Highway, just across Dykes Creek Road from that road’s namesake, Dykes Creek Baptist Church.
Each room’s theme is dedicated to a particular geographical motif as well as a Biblical lesson. And each age group rotates from room to room throughout the duration of Vacation Bible School. So from day to day, all the children get to experience a different place and a different lesson.
For example, one room has the look and feel of the Egyptian desert. Teachers Jessica Dennis and Victoria Strayhorn have worked to build a scene to rival any film set. Hieroglyphics line the walls, Desert animals peek out from behind rocks and shrubs and the children get to sit among the sand dunes to learn their lesson.
“The lesson we learn in this room is the Biblical story of Jesus bringing Jairus’ daughter back from the dead,” Gibson said. “We try to give the students a whole experience rather than just tell them the story.”
Indeed, while the lesson is being learned, students can look at the large mural painted beautifully across one wall which expertly depicts the characters of the story.
And other rooms are given the same amount of care and attention to detail. One colorful room whisks the children off to an underwater world, one to South America and the cafeteria has been turned into the outback, complete with a koala and a kangaroo.
One of the most impressive rooms is actually the church’s sanctuary. It has been turned into a chilly arctic landscape with icebergs, snow, an igloo, and of course a few penguins to complete the look.
“We think it’s really important to give the children a full experience when they come to VBS,” Gibson said. “Some of them have never been to church, some don’t even know who Jesus is. We’re trying to teach them the Biblical lessons while offering some visual and sensory experiences as well.
This year’s enrollment for New and Living Way’s VBS has been the highest it’s ever been, and for good reason. Gibson said children and parents have come to expect the stunning artistic work put into the rooms by the dedicated teachers.
With such a small church, however, not all the students get their own decorated room. Because of the high number of teenage students, New and Living Way has once again turned to its neighbor, Dykes Creek Baptist, for help.
“This is the second year Dykes Creek has let us use their Youth Center for our teen class,” Gibson said. “And we’re very grateful for that. We have a room for the teens but it’s much too small to accommodate the numbers we’ve had the past couple years.”
Despite their limited resources, the directors and teachers at New and Living Way’s VBS say they are more than happy to put all their effort into making VBS an unforgettable experience for their students.
“We hope they all come away with a love for Jesus and the Bible and having learned something positive from their experience with us,” Gibson said. “But even if only one of our students goes on to dedicate their life to Christ then we feel like we’ve done our job.”