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Fresh water for vacation Bible school

With Living Waters for the World’s vacation bible school (VBS) curriculum, “Clean Water for All God’s Children!,” attendees will not go on safari or to the rain forest or on a sea cruise or have a space adventure. What they will do is learn about the miracle of clean water. And have the opportunity to provide clean water for some of God’s children.

 

This simple, inexpensive curriculum is laid out for a traditional 9 a.m. to noon, week-long vacation Bible school. But it is easily adaptable to other formats, such as an evening intergenerational program.

Each day is centered on a Bible story about water: creation, crossing the Red Sea, the healing of Naaman, the baptism of Jesus and the story of the woman at the well. There is no glitz or gimmick involved in this curriculum. It is straightforward, biblically founded fun. From the music, which will keep the children humming along, to the water-based science experiments, children remain engaged, interested and invested in the week’s activities.

One of the key reasons this curriculum is so engaging is that it provides a clear opportunity for mission. Children learn about the world water crisis – that 5 million people die each year from preventable water-borne diseases, most of them children. They learn that millions of children never reach their potential because of water-related illnesses. These afflicted children are too ill to attend school, cannot develop because their illnesses prevent absorption of nutrients and are unable to learn and grow.

Children attending a VBS using “Clean Water for All God’s Children!” learn about the perils of dirty water for children and communities. And then they are provided with the opportunity to help bring clean water for children who have none. As Pastor Carolyn Winfrey Gillette of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Delaware put it, “it is just a beautiful opportunity to share the stories of faith and to see their relevance to Christian life and mission today.”

This curriculum was not developed to affect any bottom line for a publishing house. The idea for it came about during a brainstorming session of the education team of Living Waters for the World back in 2005. The team, including longtime volunteer Joanie Lukins, was looking for a way to help spread the word about Living Waters for the World’s lifesaving work. They thought that a VBS curriculum might be a way to include children in the mission work of their own congregations, churches that were installing clean water systems somewhere in the world.

This effort to further the message of Living Waters for the World has turned into a much broader success than was originally dreamt of. Congregations, and especially the children involved, have responded to the material enthusiastically. As Robin Wright from Franklin Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tenn., commented, “the children thoroughly enjoyed the Bible lessons and were humming the music for several days afterwards.”

But the use of this curriculum is not limited to congregations involved in Living Waters for the World. It has broad appeal and opportunities to serve for every church.

The lessons for the curriculum are, according to Lukins, based not only on water but also on “a respect for the child’s ability to reflect upon Scripture and make the connections to the activities in the curriculum and the connection with what their congregation is doing with Living Waters for the World.” This includes a hands-on approach for children to bring coins to VBS to donate to Living Waters for the World in order to provide a clean water system for children in need. The children attending the VBS respond enthusiastically to this because they have compassion for children who need clean water.

The curriculum is available online.

Living Waters for the World is the mission project of the Synod of Living Waters.

JANET TUCK is communications director for the Synod of Living Waters.

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