COVID-19 shuttered church doors for several weeks, beginning in mid-March and forcing area pastors to meet members of their congregation in virtual settings.
Pastors streamed services on social media platforms like Zoom and Facebook, and since then, some have started to reopen with much smaller, in-person services while still offering a virtual option.
Now with the start of summer and school out, Vacation Bible School, a specialized form of church education for elementary-aged children and junior youth, is a topic of discussion for churches.
The themed curriculum for children consists of Bible stories, worship, mission projects, arts and crafts and games. Children also act out skits and or plays.
VBS serves as a week-long church outreach program that touches the hearts of children in communities. And in these uncertain times, children need a rejuvenating ministry.
COVID-19 has left churches scrambling to change VBS programs this summer. Some are postponing to later dates or planning multiple sessions while others are preparing at-home options.
However, Operation Christmas Child’s Discipleship Program, The Greatest Journey, gives churches and parents an alternative to VBS during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Greatest Journey is a 12-lesson course that consists of Bible stories and scripture memorization, teaching children how to follow Christ daily and to share Him with friends and family.
The discipleship program reaches the hands of boys and girls in need around the world when it is delivered by local churches with shoebox gifts.
Since 2009, more than 23 million children who have received a shoebox gift have participated in The Greatest Journey. Every child who graduates is given a New Testament in their own language.
“I want every child to know that God is real, that He cares for them,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, “[and that] God sent His son to … save them from their sins.”
Christian parents can also download the ministry’s Bible game app on their child’s mobile device. The Greatest Journey app lets children beam into Bible history and captain a spaceship.
Players visit and observe major events in the Bible, with a special emphasis on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The app is totally free, with no in?app purchases.
The game itself was designed in partnership with a video game development company in California specifically with 5? to 9?year?old children in mind.
“When my grandkids play the games …, they can’t put it down,” said Graham. “I’ve enjoyed seeing [them] get excited when stories …, like David and Goliath, are brought to life … in their hands.”
The idea for the app came from the international discipleship program that Samaritan’s Purse created for children who receive Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts.
To learn more about The Greatest Journey, visit https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/tgj-game-app/.
The app is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play in more than 140 countries.
About Operation Christmas Child
The Samaritan’s Purse project Operation Christmas Child collects shoebox gifts?filled with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items.
Volunteers deliver them to children in need around the world to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way. For many, the gift—filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.
Since 1993, OCC, the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, has collected and delivered more than 178 million shoebox gifts to children in more than 160 countries and territories.
In 2020, Operation Christmas Child hopes to collect enough shoebox gifts to reach another 11 million children in countries like Peru, the Philippines, Rwanda and Ukraine.
More than 10.5 million shoebox gifts were collected worldwide in 2019, with more than 8.9 million collected in the United States alone.
For more information, please visit: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/.
Or contact Karla Sunderlin, West-Central Pennsylvania area coordinator, by phone at 814-496-4456 or e-mail at email@example.com.