VBS + Missions = Winning Combination

Missions Under the Northern Lights for VBS 2012 features five missionaries and their stories on how God is working in their lives and their ministries. Three of the stories were provided by the International Mission Board (IMB) and two of the stories were provided by the North American Mission Board (NAMB). The VBS 2012 Missions Rotation Leader Guide features a DVD with five videos and some video extras to use as you teach the Missions rotation. To get up-to-date information and the latest prayer requests from each of the five missionaries, click here.

The Day 1 video “Sweet Flight to Amazon Jungle” features missionary pilot Andy Kennedy. You can find his update here!

On Day 2, the video titled “God’s Power Over the Arctic” featured John Forrester. Due to a NAMB personnel change since this video was produced, another missionary family serving in Kotzebue, Alaska is featured in the missionary update. You can find the story for Matt and Tammy Hoke here.

The latest update for Day 3′s “The Mahafaly of Madagascar” featuring IMB missionaries Grant and Jodie Waller is available here.

The Day 4 story of “Chaps and the Big E” highlights Navy Chaplain Fred Holcombe and his ministry on the USS Enterprise. Check out his update and prayer requests.

Day 5 featured a 12-year-old deaf girl who went on a mission trip with her dad when she was 10 years old to lead a VBS in El Pozon, Colombia. The missionaries who work with the Deaf in Colombia are Charles and Betty Thomas* (names changed). You can find information on their ministry here.

One last update is on the “Northern Necessities” mission project. The website listed in the Missions Rotation Leader guide and on the “Northern Necessities Poster” (Insert Item 4) is currently under construction. The tab “How You Can Help” is currently unavailable. You can see the information about ways to help by visiting this link. Please note that it will be helpful to First Baptist of Kotzebue if you will mail the items your church collects to the church’s post office box. The address is P.O. Box 26, Kotzebue, Alaska 99752.

Keep these missionaries and their ministries in your prayers. With kids and leaders in VBS praying for the specific prayer requests of these missionaries, big things will happen!

The Big Apple in the Mule Capital of the World!

Hey y’all, It was definitely a big city adventure last week! My church is located in Columbia, Tennessee—home of the Mule Day celebrations! Yep, it’s a city that celebrates its mules! (But, I’ll save those stories for another time!)

We had about 140 super-neat preschoolers and I got to teach missions! From teaching them about Proof and Andrew to learning about the Zoe Church in Sao Paulo to hearing about the Fusion kids in New Orleans, it was definitely all about the big city!

Entering Proof’s Dog House (and our room)!

Playing a game with our dog ears!

My favorite experiences?

1. Listening to kids’ laughter and hearing them chat with their friends about the fun things they were doing at VBS!

2. Hearing kids verbalize places and ways that they can tell others about Jesus. Missions begins at home, right?

3. Watching the kids bring in school supplies for kindergartners in Joplin, Missouri. By the end of the week, we had tons of scissors, crayons, glue, notebooks, and erasers! Hands-on missions helps preschoolers think beyond themselves and about others (a sometimes hard concept for young kids).

4. Working with some of the best preschool VBS teachers in the world! They created an atmosphere of love and acceptance that made it easy for kids to hear about Jesus and His incredible love for them.

5. Knowing that when it was all over, some important truths had been planted in the hearts and minds of the boys and girls.

I can’t wait for next year!


Proof God Exists*

Proof’s day is about to draw to a close. If you are confused right now, you might want to check out the blog entries for March 14th and March 15th.

Be sure to look out for Proof in the Big Apple Adventure this summer. Not only will students learn about her in the VBS children’s mission’s curriculum, but preschool and kindergarteners will learn about Proof as well in their missions rotation.

Proof’s day draws to a close . . .

As the day draws to a close, the kids pack up their bags, but one kid is upset and nobody knows why. He yells, punches, and kicks. There is no calming him. Who knows why he finally clicked? Proof crosses the room and moves close by the angry boy who is now sitting with a scowl. With no fear, Proof sticks her head in his lap, and his violent hands suddenly still. He reaches down and caresses her fur, taking a deep breath. The situation’s now calm and all can relax, as he now has a smile that grows brighter with each lick across his soft hands.

The kids are now gone and Proof’s day is nearly complete. She and her master head home, but a different way than they came. Taking different turns, Proof sees many more fans, people who greet, wave, and even hug. These streets are often tough, sometimes scary things can happen, but when Proof walks by all evil thoughts seem to disperse, run-away leaving pure joy. Walking up a hill, one would think they were transported. As if walking on a border, a look to the right is the same as before, but now to the left the buildings are replaced with towering boulders, sprawling elms and oaks, and green grass. The big city park is where Proof often plays. Chasing her ball, running, and jumping does a lot to free her from any stress of the day.

Today, though, there is a lady, standing in the shadows created by trees, not in the silver moonlight but beneath the orange street lights. She steps toward Proof, and quietly asks, “Can I pet your dog?”  Before an answer is given, she sits on the ground and Proof crawls in her lap, immediately changing the lady’s frown. Proof’s master stands by, pondering the situation. The years of struggle for this lady were clearly shown by the wrinkles on her leathery face. Baggy clothes she wore and a duffle rested beside her now cross-legged sitting body. Likely her whole life is packed in this bag, possibly heading towards the shelter. Like nomads crossing the desert, many families head with their bags every evening to this temporary home.

A few seconds turn to many, now even minutes. Each lick of this canine healer brings tears from this wounded soul. No words are shared, just heartfelt emotion. The woman finally stands to leave, collecting her belongings. A few steps she takes, and gently turns. Looking at Proof then her master, she points and exclaims, “That dog is Proof God exists.”

They depart and head their different ways. Proof and her master return to their fourth floor abode. Proof eats her dinner and winds down for the night, resting again on her brown, pillowy bed. Many such days have already occurred, many more are yet to come in her journey ahead. Daily proving God exists, not through any extraordinary means, but by being who she was created to be, Proof is serving others through simple means. Proof can teach a lesson for us all, to be not what others desire, but instead fulfill God’s plans and live a life meeting the needs of others. The question that remains is will people look at you and simply say, “There is Proof that God exists”?

Visit Graffiti 2’s website www.graffiti2ministries.org to learn more about Proof’s ministry. Click on the following link to download an order form for your very own Proof t-shirt. Proof Order Form

*“Proof God Exists” is an original work of Andrew Mann. All Rights Reserved.

Missions Has Gone to the Dogs

Today continues Part 2 of “A Day in the Life of Proof.”  She’s the first-ever missionary dog. Read yesterday’s blog entry to catch up or visit Graffiti 2’s Web site at www.graffiti2ministries.org Also don’t forget to check out the Proof apparel that is available to order by clicking on the following link. Proof Order Form

Proof God Exists*

Proof’s day continues . . .

Proof gallops in, fiercely gyrating her whole body, greeting all of her coworkers who arrived before her. As her coworkers prepare for the day, Proof quickly finds a quiet place and relaxes into a snoring slumber.

Through the door enters a man. A man many might avoid. With many layers of clothes, any visible skin is covered in a layer of grime and sweat. To be honest, he doesn’t smell well, but that’s what one might expect when one lives with no home. Without a second-thought Proof stirs and is the first to greet. As Proof’s master brings him a cup of water, Proof sits right at his feet. The man looks down and says, “I used to have a yellow lab just like that…”  He reaches down and pats her on the head and continues to talk, telling stories of the life he once led. Many moments pass as Proof sits loyally beside until finally a prayer is shared, along with a bag of pantry food. The man stands to leave and says, “See you later Proof.”

Midday brings a walk outside. Sometimes there are other dogs walking with their masters, playing in spouting hydrants, but rarely any with a pastor. At the corner, salsa music plays, coming from a bodega. These are on every corner, the little stores of the city. One can buy chips, drinks, snack cakes or fruit. Today, four men exit carrying their lunches, hot ham and cheese. One man asks, “What’s your dog’s name?” and becomes more interested in the work of Proof’s man. After expressing great interest in joining their fellowship, the man quips, “I never would have talked to you if it wasn’t for your dog, Proof.”

Upon their return Proof quietly returns to her place, awaiting with expectation the afternoon’s guests. Every day after school, children rush through the door, of course, greeted by Proof’s ever wagging tail. They study, learn, pray, and play as Proof watches in her usual way. There are times when Proof is called over as a kid sits on the floor. With an open book across her lap she reads aloud to Proof who never talks back.

Later, Proof moves and sits next to a girl, sitting, frowning from a tough day at school and an even tougher night before. She shyly asks, “Can I get a hug?”  Proof’s master says, “Proof, hug!” and what do you know, Proof jumps in her arms. With some kisses too, Proof changed her day as she now has a smile that isn’t easily washed away.

Sitting at another table, Proof’s coworker tries to figure out the problem for a student who’s gloomy and despondent. Proof walks near the little boy who refuses to vent his struggles and woes. Proof’s coworker states, “Well since you can’t tell me, do you want to tell Proof?”  With a long pause, the young man looks down at Proof. Then with certainty in his voice says, “Yeah, I speak dog.”  Proof listens intently as he whispers in her ear. He rises from crouching with his problems now discussed; the little boy readily returns to his seat and begins his daily school work . . .

Check back tomorrow to see how Proof’s day ends. Also check out the VBS missions rotation curriculum to learn not only about the work of Graffiti 2 and Proof, but the amazing work of missionaries across the world.

*“Proof God Exists” is an original work of Andrew Mann. All Rights Reserved.

VBS Mission Project Idea – Providing Beds to Orphans

Because Sunday, November 8th is Orphan Sunday, I wanted to let you know about a mission project opportunity that deals with helping orphans. Statistics say that there are more than 143,000,000 orphans in the world (some say up to 210,000,000), and as you are beginning to plan your Vacation Bible School, consider doing a mission project that will help meet the needs of these orphaned and abandoned children.

There are many organizations that do work to aid orphans around the world, but I want to let you know about one that was founded here in Middle Tennessee that is called Sweet Sleep. This non-profit organization was started by a friend of mine, Jen Gash, after she went on a mission trip to Moldova and saw the living conditions at the orphanage she visited.  The mission of Sweet Sleep is simple – to share God’s love by providing beds to the world’s orphaned and abandoned children.

This organization means so much to me because there is an orphanage in Moldova that I have been going to for the last 3 years, and Sweet Sleep has provided a bed for all of the children that I know and love from that orphanage. Sweet Sleep has provided beds for many of the orphanages in Moldova, and they are now working in Haiti and in Uganda.

Consider doing a “Build-a-bed” mission project for your 2010 VBS.  Their website provides information on how to do the project, plus resources like downloadable videos and craft project ideas.

Just to give you a glimpse of what they are doing in Uganda, here’s their latest video, which you can download here.