LUFKIN, Texas (BP)–They never left the parking lot, but kids attending Vacation Bible School at Denman Avenue Baptist Church in Lufkin, Texas, took a major road trip.
During the church’s annual VBS, June 6-10, more than 400 participants traveled to Washington, D.C, Chicago, Kansas, Wyoming and California, learning invaluable biblical truths at each pit stop.
The intent of the imaginary trip was more than a geographic jaunt from the White House to Knott’s Berry Farm in California; it was an entertaining way to explain to children that their ultimate destination in life is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Each destination ties into the theme of God directing our path and having a purpose for us,” said Kevin Roy, associate pastor of education and administration at Denman Avenue Baptist. “Our whole world is looking for purpose; they don’t really see why they’re here. We need to instill in these kids that God has a purpose for their lives.”
Joining thousands of churches nationwide, Denman Avenue presented LifeWay’s “Ramblin’ Road Trip: Which Way Do I Go?” Vacation Bible School theme.
“The ‘Ramblin’ Road Trip’ theme speaks to kids today,” Roy said. “It goes to places kids are familiar with. We’ve got Washington, D.C., Knott’s Berry Farm Amusement Park and Wrigley Field –- kids identify with these places.”
The focal Scripture passage for the week was Psalm 25:4-5: “Make Your ways known to me, Lord; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation …” (HCSB).
“There are so many competing voices trying to capture the attention of our young people,” said Roy, who has served at the church for 19 years. “As a church, we believe the earlier we grow these kids in Scripture, the better. We must put the Word of God in their hearts early to overshadow the other voices.”
Denman Avenue ministry staff places a priority on evangelism throughout the VBS week.
“The one thing we want the kids to know is that God loves them and Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for their sins so that they can know Him as their Savior and Lord. That’s the key truth,” Roy said. “If we miss that, we miss the whole point of VBS.”
Roy starts as many as six months in advance to train VBS volunteers in evangelism.
“We want the kids to have fun, but first and foremost, we have to tell the kids about Jesus Christ,” he said. “Every kid who leaves this place needs to know that we love them, and God loves them. If we communicate those two messages, we have done our job.”
The volunteer workers are the foundation of Denman Avenue’s VBS week, Roy said.
Sherry Flint, the church’s VBS director and one of 70 volunteers, said she realizes the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity to share the love of the Lord with each child because many kids never hear about Jesus elsewhere.
“We are seeing the kids come in here who need a refuge,” Flint said. “We want them to know that Jesus loves them and we do, too. We want them to hear the Gospel and realize as they grow up, they can always turn to this church for help.”
Church volunteers spent countless hours decorating classrooms and converting the church’s gymnasium into a visual tour of the road trip pit stops. Just as much time was spent preparing their hearts to serve the children, Roy added.
“God has entrusted us with these kids for these five days and our goal is to share Jesus Christ,” he said. “We must take advantage of every opportunity, whether it be a craft time, a recreation time or story time.”
Each year, Denman Avenue’s pastor, Charles Roberts, offers a decision time at the end of the week. But he doesn’t wait until then to speak personally to the children. For more than 20 years, Roberts has led the crafts segment of Bible school, giving him the opportunity to speak with each child personally.
“I talk to every one of the kids,” he said. “I want them to know that I’m not just the preacher –- I’m Brother Charles. When I give the invitation at the end of the week, they know me because I’ve been approachable and available all week.”
Keeping with the road trip theme, Roberts and other men of the church helped the children make pinewood derby racecars. He said he wants the cars to remind the children that life is full of intersections and forks in the road.
After Roberts gave the yearly VBS invitation for the children to receive Christ as their Savior, more than 40 kids responded.
“What’s more real than the idea of what road are you going to travel on?” Roberts asked the children. “Everyone will travel down a road, so which way are you going to go and which turns are you going to choose?”