Mexico (MNN) — How do you explain Vacation Bible School to church leaders in Mexico when you don’t speak Spanish? MOSES, Inc. asked that question when they began sending short-term missions teams to Ensenada, Mexico in 1992.
“We found that going to the churches, it was very difficult to teach VBS in a language that you didn’t know, and the church leaders were fairly inexperienced in what we were doing,” says Judy VanderArk with MOSES, Inc.
Their solution came from a MOSES team member who suggested and later spearheaded the formation of an annual training conference for community church leaders. The session provides everything a VBS leader needs, from a theme to songs and crafts.
“That started out in 1995,” says VanderArk, “and I think the first one probably had a hundred, maybe fewer, people in attendance. But it has grown tremendously every year, to the point that this last year’s conference was attended by 380 people representing 130 churches.
“We’ve had to move to a new facility twice because we outgrew the other ones.”
Exact outreach statistics are hard to obtain, as communication with church leaders is extremely limited, VanderArk says. From what they do know, however, the VBS training is leading to lots of kids hearing the Gospel.
“Our best estimation is that in 2012, our materials impacted roughly 7,000 children,” states VanderArk. “[Leaders are] very good at putting big plastic signs up in front of their church for a week or two ahead of time announcing the ‘Escuela la Biblica’ which is coming up.”
VanderArk explains that as community members pass by and see the signs, word spreads quickly, leading to more participants.
The 2013 VBS programs drew to a close recently, but MOSES leaders are already looking ahead to next summer.
“I believe they have a theme already picked out for next year’s VBS,” says VanderArk. “They work through e-mail and telephone year-round to provide this material.”
Though the VBS training program isn’t the main focus of MOSES, the growth is praiseworthy. However, great growth also comes with great needs.
“Each year, there’s a lot of printing, a lot of copying, producing of CDs,” says VanderArk. “Puppet dramas [with] songs on a CD are given to [leaders] at the conference.”
Each creative aspect ties into a curriculum designed and provided by MOSES.
“The curriculum includes 4 stories, 4 Bible lessons. Each Bible lesson provides an opportunity [for kids] to ask Jesus into their lives. There’s a Bible verse for each day that they work on memorizing,” VanderArk explains.
But each resource turns into another added cost. Along with the cost of production, VanderArk says there are travel expenses, as well as facility and equipment rental costs.
“There are expenses for the workshop itself, because often they do provide them with some light refreshments,” she adds. “They used to do a meal, but with the numbers as they are, it’s gotten a little out of hand!”
Click here to help offset these costs by financially supporting the outreach of MOSES.
Pray that evangelical churches and youth outreach will keep growing in Mexico.
“It’s just wonderful to pray for the spread of the Gospel in all parts of Mexico; it is growing rapidly,” says VanderArk. “People think of Mexico as a largely Roman Catholic country, but that’s really no longer true. Christianity is spreading.”
Pray for continued unity among Ensenada church leaders.
“They love the opportunity to pray for each other and to be prayed for, and I just think it’s kind of become an ecumenical movement,” VanderArk states. “People that maybe wouldn’t cross denominational lines otherwise in their churches are coming together at this conference.”