Rich and Reida Bartley (pictured) have been working in the Slavic Village area of Cleveland, Ohio, since 1996. Here is a recent report on their summer Vacation Bible School outreach. More background on the Bartleys and their mission is available at http://www.villagegrace.org/index.php?categoryid=2&p2_articleid=18
This year the church was transformed into a Babylonian Palace complete with idols and marble pillars. Upon entering the church you walked through three sets of pillars complete with ivy wrapped around them and through a great stone arch with animal etchings on the walls.
Gazing to the front of the church you walked on a golden carpet runner that ended with the great throne and a Babylonian idol above it. To either side of the throne were great pillars topped with flat stones (pizza boxes). Four burning fires adorned the front of the throne with flowers, golden pots and baskets all around. The ladies of Cuyahoga Valley Church did such a great job with the decorations! I couldn’t believe that it was the same sanctuary after it was all finished.
The praise time was spent with a lot of singing and dancing led two days by a real dance instructor. Amazing! She had the whole church rocking!
The children listened in awe to stories of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the writing on the wall and Daniel and the lion’s den. You cannot imagine how the children listened so attentively. They were like sponges, soaking up everything the teachers told them. The smiles on their faces were so precious!
God is so good – I am still amazed at the enthusiasm and effort of our volunteers. They are making such a difference in the lives of the neighborhood children. Our attendance increased all week and I believe we averaged about 30 children each day with about 30 helpers every day.
Crafts this week were a flag with the saying “Stand up for God” on it, door hanger with the week’s Bible verses on it, Flower pots that were painted then broken and put back with glue to show how even if you are broken you can be made whole again, a hand puppet of the lion and scratch art with Belshazzar’s writing on the wall.
The children dined on Sloppy Joes, Chicken Nuggets, Soft Tacos and soft Chicken Tacos during the week. The only complaint from the children was that there was no food on Friday. That was because we tried something different. The children were sent home and asked to come back at 6 PM for a short puppet show and a review of the week. This was presented for the parents and friends.
We had 48 in attendance for the program that was followed by a community meal. A total of 92 people shared a dinner of taco’s, chicken and salad. Then I pulled the surprise of the day – out came the sno-cone machine and even the golden agers turned into children. We went through 50 pounds of ice making sno-cones. By eight o’clock my arms were tired of “scooping”.
Continue to pray for the ministry of Village Grace – as we continue to “Touch hearts – One at a time!”