Vacation Bible School (VBS) gives children an opportunity to hear God’s Word in a fun environment and gives parents a break from their children’s day to day summer antics. Besides that, children who attend VBS come home encouraged and inspired. Each church has their own methods and themes for VBS, and some churches also place an emphasis on missions. Oklahoma City, Southern Hills is one of those churches.

Each year, Southern Hills has a missions class as part of their VBS where students learn about two missionary families. The families make videos about themselves to help the students understand what they do in the mission field and where they serve. Pastors also create posters of the missionaries for students to view.

Bethany's letter to the Byrd family.

Bethany’s letter to the Byrd family.

Last year, North American Mission Board (NAMB) church planters Michael and Traci Byrd were the featured family at Southern Hills. This is where 11-year-old Bethany Chapin first learned of them.

“I like missions a lot because of our teacher, Stacy Hiebert,” said Bethany. “I’ve always wanted to be a missionary and that’s how I got to learn about them.

Inspired by the Byrds’ work, Bethany asked Hiebert if she could take home one of the Byrds’ posters she saw at VBS. After getting permission, she took the poster home and hung it in her room as a reminder to pray for the Byrds, their church and community they serve.

“I learned about the Byrds at VBS,” said Bethany. “I put their poster on my wall and I’ve been praying about them and learning more about what they do.”

In 2019, the Byrds planted Faith Community Bible Church in the St. Louis, Mo., Jennings area where poverty and crime rates are high. Michael established a “meet local needs” approach to ministry and Traci brings women into their home to teach them how to cook inexpensive meals from low-cost, basic foods.

In July, Bethany went on vacation to St. Louis with her parents, Darin and Aubrey, and her sisters, Addison and Charlotte. While there, she asked if they could find the Byrds’ church. Agreeing, the Chapins attended the Faith Community Church Bible Study night and even had lunch with the Byrds the next day.

“It was really meaningful to us to chat with pastor Michael and learn of how his church grew,” said Aubrey Chapin. “We told Michael the story and he was sort of flabbergasted that we showed up!”

Additionally, Bethany wrote a letter to the Byrds which said how much she admired them and how much they are loved by the people around them.

While mission work may not be at the forefront of children’s minds, it is still an important topic to teach them for this exact reason. They may not be able to support missionaries financially or physically, but they can still pray for them or perform simple, kind gestures such as writing a thank you letter.

“Talking about missions has sometimes gotten lost in children’s ministry, but our children are continuing to learn about missions,” said Southern Hills Children’s Pastor David Skinner. “For Bethany to write this letter doesn’t surprise me because she’s going on mission trips later this summer.”

The Chapins plan to share the Gospel in Kentucky later this summer while also helping with community service. In the future, Bethany wants to become a nurse and serve on the mission field in the United States.

God uses VBS in many ways, and Chapin’s letter is an example of how it can impact not only a child’s life, but also a missionary’s life for the better.

Feature image provided.