By Ashley Perham
Baptist & Reflector
OLD HICKORY — Ashley Lee’s family lost their Mt. Juliet house in the devastating March 3 tornado. Then, about 10 days later, the full weight of the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Since then, Lee said, life stopped being okay.
Yet even in this “not okay” time, Lee, VBS director at Friendship Community Church, Mt Juliet, still felt that Vacation Bible School was a priority. In fact, it was such a priority the church started their VBS three weeks earlier than planned.
“There is not a more relevant time for ‘Jesus’ Power Pulls Us Through’ than right now,” Lee said in a YouTube testimony.
The night of the tornado, Lee saw firsthand the impact VBS has on kids. Lee had started putting neighborhood children in her van to make sure she knew where they were. One boy who had attended VBS as a visitor in 2019 was upset he lost his VBS music CD from in his smashed garage.
The VBS songs had made such a big impression on him that he told Lee, “We just need that music right now. We just need to know that we can trust Him.”
He then started singing the VBS theme song “I’m Trusting You” to the other neighborhood children: “Wherever you lead me, I’m going to follow. I’m trusting you God.”
“It was the most beautiful testimony,” Lee said. “I’ve got chills thinking about it.”
When it came time to plan a virtual VBS, Lee said the church prayed God would remove the obstacles and make the way and provide the resources the church did not have. “That is exactly what He did,” Lee said.
The church was able to borrow a green screen, a stand and four professional photography lights. “God provided all of the equipment and all of the people we needed to be able to film everything in just two days!” said Lee.
Lee said the church received a lot of feedback from parents thanking them for hosting a VBS.
“So many of our children had already had so much taken away from them,” she said. “We knew we couldn’t let VBS be one more ‘No’ in our kids’ lives.”
Lee said while she missed being with children, the virtual VBS allowed the church to reach people and whole families they wouldn’t have been able to reach with a traditional VBS.
The VBS was streamed at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. every day. Lee said she heard from several parents that their children wanted to watch both times. Other children watched the VBS in the morning and then would make their parents do it with them when they got home from work.
Two hundred students from more than 100 families were able to participate, Lee said. One church member said their 7-year-old daughter had been participating in VBS and asking questions about salvation. Her parents were able to lead her to Christ as a family.
“That is why we do Vacation Bible School!” Lee said. “How beautiful is it that she was welcomed into the Kingdom by her Mom and Dad?” B&R