SILVER CITY (BNM) - Approximately 140 children attended Vacation Bible School at Indian Hills Baptist Church, Silver City, during the week of June 24-28, more than doubling the previous year’s attendance.
The church hosted VBS in the mornings, with a closing reception held on the evening of Friday, June 28. Parents and other family members were invited to attend the closing reception and see what their children had learned throughout the week. The church used material from "Roar," Group Publishing’s 2019 VBS theme.
During the week, elementary school children rotated through four breakout sessions including an interactive Bible station, an imagination station, a sports station, and a kid vid station, which featured evangelistic videos about children in Zambia. Preschool-aged children participated in separate activities.
Including preparation beforehand, Chad Hussey, pastor of Indian Hills, estimated the church had approximately 75 volunteers, with 50 of those volunteers helping during the week of VBS. About half of the volunteers came from outside of the church. "We found ourselves in a fishes and loaves situation, where we had not anticipated that response, and God was just incredibly faithful to provide," Hussey said in regard to the increased attendance. "We're very friendly with the other Baptist churches within our region." "People from our church will end up going and working other VBS's here in Grant County and Silver [City],” he added. Several churches in the area, including First Baptist Church, Silver City, and Calvary Chapel, Silver City, sent volunteers to help at Indian Hills.
Hussey’s wife, Dandi, who leads the church’s women’s and children’s ministries, said that church members were “blown away” by the number of children registering. She responded by saying that “If God provided these kids for us, then surely He will provide the workers that we need.”
“It definitely stretched us in a lot of good ways ... it showed our church, and ourselves even, what is possible here in our town. It was really exciting because we really didn't know what to expect,” Dandi said.
Hussey, who has pastored Indian Hills for just over a year, said that he and his family arrived in Silver City one week before last year’s VBS, which saw 68 children in attendance. The church did not have a children’s ministry when the Husseys arrived.
Over the next several months, Hussey said he worked to "create a church culture that loves families and that loves children and that communicates that to the community in whatever form possible." The Husseys organized several community outreach events through which the children and their families could participate, including a Valentine’s Day visit to a nearby senior assisted living facility, where children passed out nearly 100 Valentine’s Day cards to residents.
The culture shift appears to be working. Hussey told the Baptist New Mexican that since he and his family arrived, he has “seen more young families join our church, and we have seen more children." While the church has been in Silver City since 1955, Hussey said the increased family focus has helped to improve the church's reputation in the community.
In the weeks leading up to this year's VBS, several members of Indian Hills met weekly on Mondays to pray for the upcoming event as well as the children and their families. According to Dandi, the church also gave members the opportunity to sponsor a family. As part of the sponsorship, members committed to praying for the family and gave a financial donation that allowed the children in that family to take home a CD containing music from VBS.
According to Hussey, during this year’s VBS, between 10 and 15 children raised their hands during a Gospel presentation, indicating they wanted to respond to the Gospel in faith. Four of those children came forward after the service to speak with Hussey, and three were baptized on Sunday, July 7.