PHILADELPHIA (BRN) – Pastor Buff McNickle and Grace Falls Church in Absecon, New Jersey, teamed up with Southside Baptist Church in Lumberton, New Jersey, this past summer for a  day VBS day camp. A mission team from The Lakes Church in Lakeland, Florida, also helped lead during the week. The day camp was made possible with the assistance of a BRN Evangelism grant.

The goal of the day camp was to help Southside reboot and get kids reconnected with the church during this phase of the pandemic. The students ranged in ages from 5 to teen.

The teen class made up of middle and high school kids and led by a college pastor at Lakes Church, included an instructional track and a practical application track in the form of a daily mission project.

These projects, selected by participating pastors “helped link what we were teaching in the morning which was the importance of Christ as a foundation for our lives, His plan for each of us and the Gospel transformation that can and should be happening as a result of a surrendered life. The afternoon projects were the practical ways they could see that lived out,” explained McNickle.

“The projects were prayer walking at each of their schools, which was emphasizing their role and Gods plan for them to see their campus as a mission field. Pray[ing] and ask[ing] for God’s favor and His protection for upcoming year. Next project was preparing meals for the visiting team to give out in the Kensington neighborhood later that evening to men and women that are being paralyzed by the drug epidemic that is destroying families every day,” said McNickle. “We used this project to emphasize the principle of choices and compassion. We used this project to highlight the need in Philly but also the wisdom of our choices and the direction our lives. The last project was cancelled due to weather.”

The project that had the most impact on the teens was the Kensington project. “The preparing of meals and the outreach in Kensington definitely created [the] most buzz and talking among the teens. It opened up dialogue and powerful discussion on choices and the consequences both good and bad from each decision. It also led to a great discussion on meeting temporary needs like the food we will give but also need to meet the long term needs and how we can truly help others,” said McNickle.

Even though the numbers of teens fluctuated daily, McNickle was blown away by their level of participation and the depth of their questions concerning the gospel.

Grace’s service projects were an awesome addition to the VBS experience, vividly bringing to life what the teens learned each day. The students were able to see a living breathing demonstration of God’s principles at work on a daily basis and were able to put into practice those same principles. This is precisely what James 1:22-23 (NLT) talks about. “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.”

By the end of the week, two kids made professions of faith. The church is working with their parents to set up a baptism celebration.

McNickle hopes to get more BRN churches to collaborate this way in the future. Stay tuned!