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Missions study takes children on imaginary ferryboat ride

IRVING, Texas (BP)–Children took a ferryboat ride from Texas to Turkey on a recent Saturday morning as they experienced a participatory missions study.

Vickie Wilson, who wrote this year’s International Mission Study for children published by Woman’s Missionary Union, was coordinator of the project at Plymouth Park Baptist Church, Irving, Texas, held in cooperation with Dallas Baptist Association. Her goal was to capture the imagination of children while engaging them in the missions study.

A ferryboat was constructed at one end of the gym. The top of the ferry was made of cloth suspended from the ceiling and draped around a frame. The lower exterior of the ferry also was made of cloth hung around a frame. Blue paper spread on the floor completed the illusion of water.

“It was wonderful just seeing the children’s faces as they walked in and saw the ferryboat,” Wilson said.

Organizers knew they were competing against other pulls on the lives of the children, and they wanted to make it a morning that would long be stored in their memory banks, she said.

“You have to compete with basketball and soccer and football, but we figured this would be something worthwhile,” Wilson said. “We wanted it to be as experiential as possible so that the children would remember it better. They might not remember playing in a soccer game, but they would remember the day they rode in a ferryboat.”

About 130 children entered the ferry after giving the conductor their ticket. Then they followed their tour guides to learn more about Turkey in smaller groups. After moving to each of four learning centers, they entered a Turkish market set up in one corner of the gym. In the market, they could spend the lira they had been given to purchase their lunch.

While the arrangements at Plymouth Park were elaborate, Wilson said any size church could employ the basic ideas of the international missions study for children.

“Any church can do it,” she said. “The plans for the leader guide in the book are very specific and are designed so that any church can use them. They might not be as grandiose as what we did, but it can be just as meaningful.

“It’s not necessarily the size, but the experiential nature of the things that is important.”

The huge ferry Plymouth Park constructed would seat more than 100, but instructions in the manual call for a ferry made up of chairs and ropes. Wilson said the instructions could be used as they are, or as starting places for leaders who want to “think outside of the box.” The manual also contains tickets that can be copied and other items to help make the study more hands-on for students.

Not only can every church employ the missions study, every church should do it, Wilson said.

“Sometimes we tend to put missions studies off to the side, like they’re not important, but they are. We just need to find ways to make them real to the kids and let their imaginations take it from there.”

The IMS study for children and other age levels may be purchased from WMU Customer Service at 1-800-968-7301, www.wmustore.com or at any LifeWay Christian Store.
Henson writes for the Texas Baptist Standard. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: FERRY.

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  • George Henson