“Vacation Bible School is still a great investment.” Those words summarized a not-so-ordinary VBS for Salvisa Baptist Church Salvisa, Kentucky, noted pastor Jonathan Jones.
“We had five professions of faith, six other decisions and over $3,100 was raised by the kids for a ‘new-to-us’ church van,” he reported.
Responding to a need
One of many highlights was the offering.
“It started out as something pretty small, as a contest between boys and girls. But it was different this year and the kids really took to it,” said Emmi Daniels, Salvisa’s children’s ministry director.
“Every penny brought in goes to the purchase of another van,” she said. “We told them we have boys and girls who want to go to church but we couldn’t bring them — that message was very relatable and resonated with them. They brought in [baggies] of piggy bank money with smiles on their faces — that humbled us so much. It was such a blessing to see their giving hearts.”
The offering total earned a special reward for the VBS crowd — they got to see the pastor kiss a lamb — not once, but twice. The lamb, Matilda, was provided by one of the children.
“They first wanted me to kiss a pig,” Jones said. But when a pig wasn’t available, a lamb was substituted.
“By Tuesday night we had almost $700,” he recalled, and “baggies of money were brought in and the money kept growing. They said if we went over $1,000 would I kiss the pig twice?”
He agreed. With more than $3,000 given, Jones fulfilled his obligation. And for the third $1,000? Jones’ wife, Connie, fulfilled the request.
“She was a good sport — she never hesitated,” Daniels said.
Even with the animal kissing, the concluding night was not “usual.”
“I have never seen so much excitement,” Jones recalled. “The kids and their parents stayed over three hours at the commencement program. We probably had 225 people for our closing, and probably 90% stayed for about three hours.
“We had a full meal for people, inflatables and then the animal kissing was the last thing. People heard the gospel — it was a good time.”
Daniels said “there were a lot of visitors — a lot of families who are not regulars in our church — for the concluding night when kids were able to show what they had learned, get their certificates and have a cookout.”
“One of the highlights of the week was one boy who had never been to Salvisa Baptist before but memorized [the names of] the 66 books in the Bible. That’s a great accomplishment even for people who have been in Sunday school and church and heard it over and over.”
The boy’s mother and sister were on hand to hear him recite the list.
“VBS draws in so many visiting families,” Daniels said. “We feel we can minister to the whole family by feeding them and showing them what their kids have done.”
The impact of VBS was evident the following Sunday.
“We have two morning services, and in the early service a few rows in front of me, I saw a family that had never been there before but was at the commencement,” Daniels said.
Jones noted VBS enrollment was 104, “which was the most we have had in a long time. It took everybody in the church pulling together. Emmi Daniels is an elementary school teacher who has done a tremendous job with our children ministry.”