Approximately 75 excited children registered for a five-day “All Roads Lead to Rome” Vacation Bible School, held in June at the Learning Tree School in Dalton, Ga. Volunteers from the city’s English-speaking and Spanish-speaking Adventist churches served as assistants, dressed in Roman costumes.
Each evening the participants assembled in the gym with their assigned “family group,” made up of six to eight children with a supervising adult or responsible teenager. Together they traveled back in time to meet the apostle Paul, explore a Roman marketplace, visit a home where Paul stayed, talk with Christians hiding in an underground church, and participate in
Olympic-style apprenticeship games.
Both young and old enjoyed beginning each adventure with the Extollo program, in which church member Niki Knowlton taught the children lively praise songs and hand motions to recorded music. Next the family groups discussed a daily Bible point, such as God’s love is a gift, God’s love changes us, God’s love is always with us, God’s love saves us, and God’s love is worth sharing.
From the gym, each family group traveled through an underground brick hallway that was lined with torches to light the way. The hallway led to various destinations they would experience in their exploration of Rome.
First was the marketplace, set up in one of the classrooms to replicate a typical marketplace in Rome. Each group got
to visit two of the seven shop tents each evening, where they could try their hand at making leather bookmarks, carving clay
tablets, creating key chains, writing on Greek scrolls, or making sundials and other items. Participants also got to enjoy a snack as they watched a drama showing what might happen in a Roman marketplace. In one drama, a thief stole an item and a Roman soldier came to take him away, but the shop owner forgave the thief!
After visiting the marketplace, the children went outside to play apprenticeship games, such as a Roman firefighter relay race, the shot put, and a water balloon exercise. Sometimes the travelers got a little wet!
Once back inside, the family groups visited an underground church (in a dark classroom), where they experienced how early Christians had to hide from their Roman persecutors. A narrator explained what it was like and included a short movie clip. Next they visited a house in Rome where Paul lived under house arrest with his Roman guard, Brutus. The narrator told how Paul would read from the Scriptures and talk with Brutus about Christ. In the end, Brutus pledged to live as a follower of the Son of God.
Back in the gym, the family groups discussed what they had seen that evening and enjoyed singing praise songs together. During the church worship service the following Sabbath, the group taught several of the songs to the entire congregation.
“We so appreciate the hard work of our VBS director, Tammy Saltsman,” said Juan Tuya, associate pastor of the Dalton Church. “No doubt many young lives have been impacted this week by the story of Paul’s life.”
by Vivian Raitz Carlson