If you’ve ever served alongside your children, then you’ve witnessed the enthusiasm that children feel when they know they’re helping others. Last summer, Back2Back had the opportunity to spark that same passion for service while growing orphan care awareness in the minds and hearts of 1.3 million children.
Back2Back Ministries teamed-up with Standard Publishing, a top publisher of Vacation Bible School curriculums, to offer a new service-oriented VBS curriculum for 2013. Through God’s Backyard Bible Camp and the Mission Project Pack students engaged in interactive service opportunities in their own backyard that directly benefiting the orphans Back2Back serves in Mexico. The curriculum included a series of videos featuring Beth Guckenberger, in which she shares the memorable story of Joel, an orphan who lives in a children’s home in Monterrey. You might remember this powerful story from Beth’s book, Tales of the Not Forgotten, in which Joel asks God for the impossible – a steak dinner for the orphanage– and He faithfully and miraculously delivers.
The hallmark of this particular Vacation Bible School was the interactive service element; this experiential tool empowered kids to raise money to meet the critical needs of orphans, such as food for a month, shoes or school supplies. Children poured out their hearts to raise funds for the children we served. We were encouraged by the passion of thousands of Vacation Bible School kids, who hosted lemonade stands, did extra chores, emptied their piggy banks, and sacrificed at great lengths all in the name of orphan care. We were inspired by the countless families in churches across North America, who displayed a deep commitment to make a difference in the lives of orphans.
Tens of thousands of churches throughout the US and Canada participated. 1.3 million children attended the VBS and heard from Beth each day, as she shared the powerful story of how God showed up in Joel’s life. Of those churches, 334 purchased the Mission Project Pack, extending an opportunity to their kids to raise funds for the children we serve and be a part of the orphan care solution.
Stories are streaming in from churches whose kids discovered the thrill of serving others. At Bethlehem Assembly of God in Valley Stream, New York, a 6 year old boy, arrived at the last session of VBS with a large bag full of change. He said, “I’ve been saving up all my money for the past two years to go to Disney World, but I want to give it all to the orphans in Mexico.” Children’s pastors used this curriculum as an opportunity to reinforce an important message: you are never too young to serve. Our prayer and hope is these children will forever understand God’s heart for the orphan child.
A quick glance at the numbers is encouraging. In total, 334 churches participated in the Mission Project Pack. An incredibly diverse sampling of churches participated, diverse in size, denomination and geographical region –from a small Mennonite church in South Dakota to a Baptist mega-church in Dallas to a large Korean-American church in New Jersey, representing 39 US States, 4 Canadian provinces and 1.3 million kids. Despite the differences in background, the common denominator is clear and encouraging: churches committed to stand for the orphan child and kids who will forever know that they can make an impact on the world and be a part of something larger than themselves. Thank you to the countless churches, who came alongside us to accomplish that vision. We are humbled by your generosity.
Back2Back is thrilled to, once again, have the opportunity to partner with Standard Publishing to offer service-oriented curriculum for children for summer 2014: Jungle Safari Vacation Bible School.