Each Christmas, thousands of people give the gift of Vacation Bible School. Through the Gospel for Asia Christmas Gift Catalog, they purchase VBS materials for children in Asia. In turn, Gospel for Asia-supported churches host Vacation Bible School programs, allowing children to celebrate the Light of the World not only at Christmas but also in the summer. Through VBS, thousands of kids in South Asia have learned to let their light shine.
In 2009, GFA-supported churches throughout one state of India hosted approximately 6,500 children in 155 Vacation Bible School programs. The programs drew their theme, “The Radiance of Virtue,” from Matthew 5:16.
About 4,000 of these children came from religious backgrounds other than Christianity. By the end of the VBS programs, 42 children decided to follow Jesus as a result of their time learning about the Lord and enjoying fun activities.
One specific VBS program made a huge impact on Manisha and her cousin Aleem.
Along with 40 other children, ages 4-13, they participated in a unique “Christian Olympics” program. The three-day VBS challenged them with the theme “Run the Race” from Hebrews 12:1. It opened with a special rally in which the children marched to the VBS building, waving flags of different countries: China, India, South Africa and the United States.
Afterwards, Manisha, Aleem and the other children participated in action songs, listened to Bible lessons and stories about missionaries, and played sports and games. Even Aleem, who was usually shy, engaged excitedly in the activities. At the close of the first day, Aleem and Manisha went home singing the songs they learned, reciting Bible verses and telling their parents everything that happened at VBS.
On the second day, Aleem developed a high fever, cough and cold. His parents decided he should stay home, but he cried and begged to attend VBS so vehemently that they let him go after all. By the time he came home, God had healed him—to his parents’ amazement!
On the last day, the children energetically competed in a quiz game about the things they learned in VBS. When asked what Jesus would give them when they had run the good race, one child answered, “Jesus will give medals.”
Jesus may not distribute medals in heaven, but the children did receive medals at the end of VBS. In summation of the program, the parents came to watch their children give presentations and receive awards, participation certificates—and, yes, medals.
The children’s enthusiasm and the teachers’ warmth toward them touched the parents. Many expressed the sentiment, “Please organize this kind of VBS next time also; we’ll send some more children along with ours.” Manisha’s mother was one of these grateful parents, and she decided to enroll her daughter in Sunday school at the local church. Through Gospel for Asia-supported VBS programs, God has blessed and transformed thousands of children like Manisha and Aleem. Dedicated teachers and leaders share the love of Christ with them and their families, which encourages believers to grow in the Lord and opens doors to share the Good News with families who don’t know Jesus.