Theya and Thessa
The Vacation Bible School (VBS) in the Philippines was suspended for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank the Lord that it has since slowed down, and there are almost no restrictions that will restrain us from organizing such ministries as this. This year, 2023, saw the return as well as the start of VBS in the different mission stations under True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church in Philippines. The following stations are: (1) Trinidad BP Mission Church in Bohol, (2) Christ BP Church and (3) True Word Bible Fellowship in Cebu, (4) Golgotha BP Mission Church in Lourdes, Valencia, and (5) Christlife BP Church in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.
The theme for this year’s VBS is “The Parables of Jesus” with five lessons prepared. These lessons were taken and expanded from the recently published book of True Life BPC’s Ladies Fellowship titled Ten Parables of Jesus. The five parables that were chosen were: (1) The Sower and the Seed, (2) The Rich Fool, (3) The Justified Man, (4) The Wedding Banquet, and (5) The Ten Virgins. Each lesson was taught with the gospel clearly preached so that the children will know the way of salvation. The theme verse was taken from Matthew 13:35 “I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world” with the theme song of “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus.”
The VBS lasted for three days from 8.00 am to 11.45 am. The days started with registration on the first day and attendance taking on the consecutive days, followed by a time of singspiration as a whole group. The children will then be divided into four departments according to what level they are in at school. Nursery to Kindergarten children were in the Preschool Department; Grades 1 to 3 were in the Lowers Department; Grades 4–6 were in the Uppers Department; and Grades 7–12 were in the Teens Department. After lessons, worksheets were given to the children as a reinforcement of what they have learned, and they will have art and craft to do on the first and second day. The churches which hosted the VBS’s were constrained by the love of Christ not only to provide snacks for the children but also lunch for them before sending them home. They were also helpful to offer their presence to be volunteers and assistants by keeping watch over the children and handling logistic matters.
Indeed, the Lord has used His people to labour together for these VBS’s to be successful! Games were conducted on the last day and to prepare for the highlight of the whole VBS — the Gospel Rally where the parents and guardians of the children will be present — the children would practice for their respective praise items leading up to it. The Gospel Rally will have the pastor or preacher in charge of that mission church to preach and share the Gospel, specifically for the parents, guardians and other adults to hear the Good News. The program consisted of a welcoming address to the parents and other guests where we would introduce and inform them what the children had learned and done during the three days of VBS. A singspiration of the VBS would then follow before the preaching of God’s Word, after which, song or skit presentations were done by each department. Best girl and best boy awards were given to each department as well as the giving back of all the children’s worksheets and crafts. Lunch would then be provided and tracts and RPG’s distributed. They were also welcomed to join the church services and activities to learn more about God’s Word.
We praise the Lord God from the bottom of our hearts for using unworthy and broken vessels to do His work among the precious souls of little children and young teens. The seed has been sown, and now it is the Lord who will convict and save.
Trinidad BP Mission Church, Bohol (Aug 3–5, 2023)
The invitation of children to come for the VBS a few days before it started received some promising and positive responses both from the children and their parents. However, on the first day of VBS, only a few of those who promised they would come appeared. Unlike other parts of the Philippines where there are many Baptist churches which regularly conduct VBS’s, the concept of it was not very familiar in Trinidad, Bohol. Many of the parents thought it was a mass of some sort, and we had to clarify with them that it was not. It was truly by God’s marvellous grace that there were children whom He brought into our midst since Bohol is known to be deeply entrenched in Roman Catholicism. In fact, in Trinidad, there are masses conducted morning and night, which are broadcast through a loudspeaker so that even if one is not inside the church building, he can still hear from his home.
We prepared, expected, and prayed for 60 children to come. God mercifully answered our prayers, that though there weren’t 60 children all together at once as attendance fluctuated across the three days — some did not come back the next day and new ones would come — nearly 60 children were listed after the whole VBS ended. We thank God also for moving the hearts of those who may not believe in Him to avail themselves to be used for this VBS. The basketball court (which is the most ideal and common place to hold a VBS anywhere in the Philippines) where the VBS was held was supposed to cost PHP 1,000 per day, but they charged us PHP 1,000 for all three days, which included the use of chairs, tables, and sound system. This was truly a show of God’s working.
Mrs Jenerose Gayon taught the Preschool Department with 20 children. Sis Thessa Lagapa taught the Lowers Department with 13 children. Sis Theya Lagapa taught the Uppers Department with 11 children. Pr Rodolfo Gayon then taught the Teens Department with 12 teens. Most of the children came from the houses that were nearby and by personal invitations of Trinidad BP Mission Church’s members. Two ladies from the church kindly made and brought the snacks for the children. Some youths also willingly helped to assist the teachers. Pr Gayon preached during the Gospel Rally and around 20 parents came.
Christ BPC, Cebu (Aug 14–16, 2023)
When we arrived at the church on the first day, some of the children were already there waiting for us. Rev and Mrs Jose Mangco had invited the children in advance and listed their names according to their grade levels so that it was easier for us to do the registration with them. It was unfortunate to know that they were forced to turn down some of the children because there was not enough space for more than 40 children. In fact, instead of having four separate classes, the Preschool and Lowers Departments were combined into one as well as the Uppers and Teens. The first group took the first floor and the second group took the room upstairs. We thank God for Sis Gyzza Berindez Dandoy who willingly travelled from Gingoog to Cebu to help out in the next following VBS’s. She and Sis Thessa took turns teaching the first group, which had 21 children, while Theya taught all five lessons to the second group, which had 17 children. Though the space was limited, the advantage was that it helped to contain the children so that they could not run around so much or run away. The church members were especially active in helping out. They were such willing and joyful helpers that it helped to lighten our load.
The Gospel Rally was full house. The children had to share chairs so that there were spaces for the parents — around 15 parents came. We thank God for the time of Gospel preaching by Rev Mangco.
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