VBS – Vacation Bible School
Booneville, Owsley County, Kentucky, USA
Wow! What an experience! Being there with the people of Booneville was a life changing experience for all involved. We saw God move mightily during this trip. There were 19 children in attendance, six of which were children of the volunteers and were junior helps. Out of these 19, nine asked Jesus into their hearts and 10 were baptized, along with one Grandparent.
This rural area of Kentucky is truly like stepping into a third world country, in many ways. Some of the children that attended the VBS didn’t have running water in their homes, many still used an outside toilet (outhouse), and many homes were made out of particle board or whatever was available. Many are hungry and, because of the lifestyle, must look out for their younger siblings.
There is one story that has been repeated to me several times, since we’ve returned. During lunch, on the first day of VBS, the children went downstairs to the basement to be served. Two siblings were in line together and the older sibling was first. The lunch worker handed the child a plate of food, but the child refused to take it, until his sibling had food too. At first glance, this was sweet, but then we saw all the children acting this way in so many different areas that we soon came to realize that it is out of necessity that these children must look out for each other, because there is no one else that will do it. It really makes your heart cry to see a 6-year-old making sure that a 4-year-old has food.
Another story that has been retold, time and time again, happened on the last day, when the children were being bused back home. On this particular day, each child was given a box of food. When the driver got to the last child’s house, there were two boxes of food remaining. The child tried to refuse one of the boxes, because she thought it wasn’t right to take both, but the driver took them both into the house anyway. The exterior of the house was shaped like a box and made out of particle board, with no paint, no finishing touches, and no nothing. The girl was so embarrassed that she exclaimed, “I hate having an outside house”. The driver thought that she was referring to the exterior of the house but soon discovered that she meant an “outhouse” or an outdoor toilet, because her mom was in the bathroom (outhouse), when they arrived. But, even through all the embarrassment, the child was still so excited to get these boxes of food that she could not wait to open one of them, before the driver could leave. With joy and excitement, she then exclaimed, “Cereal! We never have cereal!… I love cereal!”
The thrill and excitement that many families don’t see on Christmas Day, with a multitude of presents and thousands of dollars spent, was shown for a simple box of cereal!
There is one more thing that I’d like to mention. Even though most of the families live in poverty, having very little as far as the standard is in many areas of the United States, there is greater contentment and happiness than I’ve personally seen in most of the places I’ve ever lived or visited.
I have been forever changed because of this trip to Booneville, KY.
Recently, we went back to Booneville, KY. For the weekend of July 4th, we put on a one day event (speaking, food, games and fireworks). During the morning service, we had people come forward for prayer; we saw people healed, released from bondage and relationships mended. Praise God! He is doing a great work in the lives of His people. We were also blessed to receive an update on a woman for whom we prayed for physical healing and a release from bondage, during our original visit. One month later, and she was still doing fine. Praise God; Praise God; Praise God!
My beloved, do not be afraid to step out when the Holy Spirit speaks to you. These are the last days, and His word tells us that He will pour out His spirit on His sons and daughters, in the last days.
Here are a few more write ups from some of our team members:
I do not even know where to begin. There is so much hardship in the lives of the children that we ministered to, physical, emotional and spiritual. It is hard to imagine the day to day lives of people right in our own back yard, especially when you see such critical physical needs. But God sees them and loves them right where they are. I am so thankful that I was able to be a vessel to take God’s love to our neighbors. I was involved mainly in providing crafts for VBS. Even though I did not spend as much individual time with the kids as others in our group, the last day several children hugged me and told me that they loved me and would miss me. It’s hard to believe that VBS and a little food could have such an impact! I KNOW that it not only impacted the hearts of the children involved, but will trickle down into the families of those children and even the community! – Amanda
During this mission trip, I was amazed at how bad the poverty levels were in the town of Booneville. Driving on back roads, I saw sheds that people live in, people gardening many live off what they grow, and people suffering or being content with what little they have.
The children that came to VBS were so well behaved and thankful for what they had or were given from VBS. I was touched when I saw their faces light up when they decided to follow Jesus and was reminded of how I felt when I did as a child. They do not envy because money has no real value to them at this young age and because they are not really exposed to it.
I’m so glad I was able to come on this mission’s trip and that I shared the love of God through this life that I have been blessed with. I’m going to miss these children so much – but not the ticks!!! Ha ha. - Kristin
I am very grateful to the Lord for the privilege of being a part of this wonderful experience. There are many things that touched my heart, but a few really were special. The way the children in a family looked out for each other was so special. One in particular was a little boy and his younger brother. When he was offered a plate of food at lunch, his first response was, “My brother is hungry”. He would not eat until he knew his brother would eat also. A few words spoke of a protective love that isn’t shown often enough in our world. It really touched my heart. Another incident was seeing a mom that came and stayed all day with her children, and watched as they sang songs and did the motions, played games and won prizes. At first she just sat and watched, but after a little while she was singing, and clapping, and doing hand motions. Her smile just kept getting bigger. What really made another impact on me was an older man that came to be baptized at the river. His mom was standing on the bank and when he went under water she threw her hands up to God and started praising Him out loud. When she finished she shared that her son had been one of the worst drug dealers in the county, and had gotten saved, and had just sealed it with baptism. She glowed with joy and thanksgiving to the Lord. That man had joined hands with a few of us at the church before we came to the river to pray for a woman for healing. What a great God we serve. His mercies and blessings to us are never ending. Thank you Lord Jesus! - Lee