Donning Babylonian costume, the pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church plans to ride his motorcycle around town inviting the community to send their children to Vacation Bible School.
“Babylon: Daniel’s Courage in Captivity” is the theme of the Aug. 2-5 event which will include replicas of the lions’ den (complete with the sound of roaring lions) where Daniel was thrown and protected from harm by God, and the fiery furnace with flickering flames where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were tossed and remained unscathed due to the Son of God walking in the flames with them. Daniel had defied King Darius’s decree to refrain from petitioning anyone except him for 30 days and kept worshiping God. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had earlier refused to bow down to a golden image set up by King Nebuchadnezzar.
According to Brown, the children, ages 3 through fifth grade, will learn “when things change, when you need help, when you’re afraid, when you’re lonely, God is with you.”
In addition to the lions’ den and fiery furnace, other sets will include the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon,” which were considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; the famous East Gate called Ishtar; and the noisy Market Place where the sounds of camels and “commotion” will be heard.
“(We) are taking kids to a biblical place and teaching them the stories that happened there,” Brown said.
The pastor said children will collect their coins from the Babylonian bank and then visit the booths with their colorful awnings. From the different vendors, they can get their pictures taken in Babylonian costumes for the price of a coin; learn about Babylonian music, paint a set of praying hands trimmed in blue and gold at the bottom; and make globes of the world, learn about the Big Dipper and fashion lion pillows at the magi booth. The Royal Gardener has been growing different kinds of herbs and will teach the children about them at his booth.
“The kids will paint their own shields, breastplates and helmets and will use them in a mock tournament,” Brown said of the “Warmart” booth.
Food vendors will offer Babylonian foods such as flatbreads, figs and dates, fruits and vegetables.
“The goal of the Market Place is for children to feel like they are really in a Babylonian market place,” Brown said. “It’s to be an immersion event into the Babylonian culture and the Bible story in itself.”
Meals will be served during mealtime each day. Families can come and spend time with their children on Thursday and Friday (Aug. 2-3) from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
“Parents can come and get a meal or leave the kids and go on a date or spend time together,” he said.
Families will also be able to attend lunch during the 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 4) session. The Sunday (Aug. 5) session will be from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., with lunch provided.
“The church’s worship service at 10:30 a.m. will be a Babylonian celebration of everything they have learned. Daniel will go back for one more skit with Ashpenaz.”
Ashpenaz, the royal Babylonian guard in charge of Daniel and the other Jewish captives, is being portrayed by the pastor. His white costume, trimmed in royal blue with gold braid, was made by member Linda Klement, who also sewed most of the other costumes.
About 80 members began planning in January for the Bible school and have worked tirelessly since March making sets to transform the church into ancient Babylon, where the king had captured the best and brightest young men in Israel and brought them there.
“We have been preaching this month and part of last month on a series of mission and vision,” Brown said. “We’re asking God to answer the question, ‘For what purpose have you called Messiah Lutheran Church to Valdosta, Ga.?’
“Our church has decided to invest in children. Jesus rebuked the disciples when they turned away the children, and said, ‘Let the little children come unto me.’ We decided to open up (VBS) to the community to simply love children because Jesus loves children. We are taking four days to show that they are valued, to teach them the (Bible) stories and to have fun. This will be a pretty good time. This is an opportunity for families to spend time together, for kids to have fun with their parents.
“The whole church has bought into this ministry. Everybody is excited ...”
To register for VBS, those interested may visit wefoundmessiah.org.
Vacation Bible School
When: Aug. 2-5
Times: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 2-3, 10-4 p.m. Aug. 4 and 9-2 p.m. Aug. 5
Where: Messiah Lutheran Church, 500 Baytree Drive