Peace to you, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
From 8th to 13th of June Vacation Bible School (VBS) took place in the Parish of Saint Andrew in Novosibirsk. This year the theme was “Absolution in Old Testament.”
The VBS of two previous years were about Old Testament types (examples, 1Cor. 10:6) of Baptism and Eucharist. Thus this year’s topic completed the “triptych.” Pastor Pavel Khramov (director of Sunday school) explains, “VBS is targeted primarily on children. For many years we finish the school year at Sunday school with VBS. For kids it is a sort of summit of their Bible studies. Thus, Bible is always the foundation and focus of our summer program. Second, we want to encourage our parishioners to learn the Catechism, so we try to incorporate it in into VBS. Lastly, we see it as vital to show our children how the Old Testament reveals to us Jesus Christ. This point is very important in our context, as in nearly all Bible study materials, articles and sermons published in the Russian Old Testament is presented as a book of parables told for our better Christian living. Priests and pastors, scholars and teachers of different Christian denominations in our country think of the Old Testament as a book of instructions for us, as a book of ancient stories in which we can take out a lesson for ourselves.
For two years, we explained how God showed in images and shadow the coming of good things (Heb. 10:1). We explained that these things, though not actual Baptism and Eucharist, were not empty symbols, but the real salvation for God’s people awaiting for the Messiah, the Christ. This year it was a bit easier. We’ve been speaking not about shadow, but body (Col. 2:17), about the forgiveness for the sake of the One coming, Jesus Christ.
For the three previous years, we conducted VBS in the form of evening classes. This year we decided to come back to the program for a whole day. It gave us more time for Bible study, for games and fun, for practical work, and for fellowship. Besides the Bible studies, we visited a small local museum of natural history and the science center. We played games and did some work at the church yard. At the last day we cleaned the church building and had a grilled wurst to celebrate the end of the VBS.
The children choir at Sunday service on the next day became the final element of VBS, as during the whole week kids were rehearsing the song.
The bigger program is more difficult to organize and manage, but it attracted kids not from our parish. Non-believing relatives of our church members would not let their kids to attend Bible studies, but the program with games, visiting museums and so on, seemed to them worthy to “waste some time on studying the Bible.”
Please, pray for the children in our parishes, that they grow “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4) and for the Sunday school teachers, who help parents to raise their kids as good Christians.
“Faith and hope”
Please see attached photos.