Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Family Takes Vacation Bible School Beyond the Walls

Story by Debra Anderson

Some might say Vacation Bible School (VBS) is synonymous with summertime, and this summer was no exception. William Ovalle, pastor of the Manassas (Va.) Central Spanish, the Manassas (Va.) Battlefield Spanish and the Centreville (Va.) Spanish churches, along with his wife, Tetiana, and their sons, Vitaly and Matthias, decided to take a step of faith and expand the concept of VBS.

The family organized a VBS event for their entire district, instead of hosting an event solely for their church members. It was the first VBS for the area since the pandemic hit in March 2020. William led the program, Tetiana organized the event and Vitaly and Matthias, along with other volunteer children, participated in song service.

VBS was conducted in person and live on social media for those who felt more comfortable watching from home. Under the theme, “Heroes,” more than 50 children from the churches and community participated in the event. Additionally, more than 300 families connected online via YouTube, various church Facebook pages and Kids Spot—a Facebook page created by the Ovalle family during the pandemic to bring kids closer to Jesus.

“When we realized that some kids would still not be able to come and enjoy VBS, we decided to have a live transmission as well,” says Tetiana. “It gave more opportunities to reach out ... because every child matters!”

During the week, children experienced life in the biblical city of Bethany, replicated with decorations throughout the Manassas Spanish church. They learned how to be brave like Mary and dedicated like Samuel. The participants also learned new songs, listened to interactive Bible stories, made crafts, played games and more. By the end of VBS, they presented Jesus—the greatest Hero of all—to the kids. The children later had the opportunity to dedi- cate their lives to Jesus through prayer.

“It was a great VBS week,” says attendee Christopher Fuentes. “I learned how to help others by the examples of the Bible heroes. My two cousins and I could not wait for each meeting. In the mornings, we were ready with our team T-shirts and bags.”

Throughout the week, the children had the opportunity to write prayer requests on a special prayer wall. They presented these petitions to the Lord through prayer at a special service on Sabbath morning. When VBS officially ended, many children inquired if they could have another VBS the following week.

The event received immense praise from the families and surrounding community who connected through social media. Led by the Ovalle family, this project provided them with the opportunity to serve others, as this year’s district-led VBS went “beyond the walls.”

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