The River Cities community is rich when it comes to activities for children to do. From soccer to dancing, from swimming to tae kwon do, from tennis to piano, today’s options are endless.
Families often have busy schedules and the good old days of leisurely afternoons, evening strolls, and even family dinners have become more obsolete. Despite their busy schedules, it seems as though the people of the River Cities area still hold sacred a special tradition that has been carried on from past generations.
Vacation Bible School, more affectionately named “VBS,” is that age-old tradition that only comes once a year, during summertime. Today’s VBS is not your grandmother’s Bible school and maybe that’s why many children in our community stop the extracurricular activities for the week and make their way to one (or more) of the local churches for a week of fun.
Sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher lecture is the last thing that children want during summertime, and the churches in Miami Springs know it. Children are definitely learning, but they’re experiencing the Bible through music, games, snacks, crafts, and many hands-on creative ways.
“My kids love going to VBS every year because they love the interaction with other kids who are all praising God at the same time,” said Cinnamon Delgado. Delgado’s four children recently attended the Miami Springs Baptist Church VBS. “Every year it’s a different theme with Bible verses. They learn how they can incorporate this love into their everyday life with friends and family and set the example of God’s teachings.”
Miami Springs Baptist Church’s theme this year was “Agency D3.” Their motto was “Discover. Decide. Defend.” Children who attended MS Baptist Church VBS were able to join Agency D3 Special Agents for a week of fun where they examined eyewitness reports, physical proof, and biblical accounts to uncover and learn how to defend the truth about who Jesus really is. Their VBS Scripture came from 1 Peter 3:15: “But honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
Poinciana United Methodist Church hosted their VBS and this year’s theme was titled “Weird Animals.” At Poinciana, children were introduced every day to a different unique animal, a.k.a. a Bible buddy. The buddies helped kids remember the daily Bible Point that was carefully integrated into each station’s activities to reinforce Bible learning. Children who attended Poinciana’s VBS learned that, “Even when you’re left out, even though you’re different, even when you don’t understand, even though you do wrong, and even when you’re afraid, Jesus loves you.”
Poinciana strategically places trained youth volunteers as crew leaders, making it an event that was high energy and packed with enthusiasm. Children travel with their crews to the different stations, which are led by adult volunteers. Each station was an important part of the kids’ overall learning experience because the information is presented in a way that children individually learn: musical learners, kinesthetic learners, visual learners, interpersonal learners, linguistic learners, logical learners, and introspective learners.
“My son Vincent is still talking about all that he learned at Poinciana’s Weird Animals. He let us know he ‘saw Jesus’ and insisted on washing our feet just like he did with his crew one night,” shared Diane Pellini. “The creativity and simple ways VBS teaches the children about our God makes them realize he’s real and relational and sets a great foundation at a young age. VBS has a great impact on not only the child but the family he goes home to.”
Much like the array of choices of extracurricular activities for children, there is an array of church options in our small-town community of Miami Springs. Not only did the Baptist Church and Poinciana UMC host a Vacation Bible School, but so did the Spanish congregations at Vida Abundante, which meets at Crossbridge Church, and Iglesia Bautista Sion, which meets at All Angels Church. Word of Faith Global Ministries, located on Hook Square, is hosting its VBS-themed “Wilderness Escape” this week, Aug. 4-8.
Summertime is coming to end and that means the VBS season is coming to end, too. Although children and parents will soon be focused on school schedules and sporting schedules, the local churches will be busy planning next year’s fun-filled Vacation Bible Schools, all the while helping children and their families keep the spiritual connection alive when the VBS fun is but a distant and cherished memory.