Mark your calendars now! July 10-27, 2017
Biola is a small farming community just a few miles west of Fresno off of Shaw Ave. And it is a mission field, with great needs. Many in the town work as farm laborers, which puts them in the fields all day during the summers, leaving their children at home alone. For three weeks in July, they have a place to go and things to do! We were blessed by the overwhelming generosity and partnership of the Biola Congregational Church and Pastor Tim McDonald. They gave the free use of their entire facility and resources.
There is no way to adequately convey the impact of the Enrichment Program. It is an outreach to the community that is truly being used to build bridges. For three weeks, July 11-29, we watched the Lord do amazing things, and saw lives touched and changed, children and volunteers alike! Over 100 children attended, ranging in age from 5 to 18. One of the greatest blessings was to see the way relationships were formed between the 36 volunteers and the children. A very tangible byproduct of the Enrichment Days is that the children are provided breakfast and lunch at the school because they are involved in the program. For many of the children this might be their only access to healthy food.
But the greatest fruit from the program is the individual lives that were touched. There are countless stories of children whose lives have been impacted by God’s love conveyed through people, God’s grace expressed and modeled through learning experiences, God’s provision through opportunities they enjoyed. Like the little girl who came up to Licia with excitement and said, “God answered my prayer!”, and it was because of a very painful circumstance in her life… Or the children who have very hard lives, soaking up the love and attention they receive while doing simple crafts… Or the teens who are learning things they might never have had the chance to even experience… photography, woodworking, cooking, dance, music, drama…
The mornings were packed full of activities! Upon arrival and signing in, the younger children have opportunity to read to or with a volunteer (using books we supply.) This is an important part of the day, as many of them don’t have English speaking parents so they don’t have that chance at home. The program starts with a lot of energy in the air, as the kids sing fun, action packed songs. The theme song this year was perfect… “First”. They loved raising their arms and shouting “First” each time it came up in the song; and prayerfully those words are forever in their minds and hearts, to seek the Lord first. Licia then did an interview, allowing the kids to ask questions of a volunteer. This was another important aspect of connecting with the kids. Following came a devotional story, often using Veggie Tales. Opportunities occasionally came up for the children to gather around and pray for someone.
The remainder of the morning was divided into 3 sessions, with the kids in appropriate age groups. Each group rotated through crafts, creative arts, and games or outside activities. Again, the volunteers so beautifully poured into the children. From a teenage girl stepping out and teaching the kids how to draw a tree with chalk, to Steve Clark’s hands-on lessons in building wooden planters then planting them with succulents, to the photographers who not only taught the kids but let them use their equipment and created award-winning photos. And the ones who showed the kids how to bake (that was a favorite class!), or patiently helped them make crosses with their names on them.
Daily they worked on practicing for the play, learning the story of Gideon. There were dance classes for the girls; and what a joy it was to see the delight on some of the little girls, who had never experienced that before. It seems that an overriding theme in each of these activities is the value it seemed to be giving the children. They are so proud of their work, and things that maybe we would take for granted were new experiences for them. Fridays were fun days, with movies, popcorn, and outside water games. (Messy, but fun!)
If you are reading this, would you take a moment to pray for the Biola Enrichment Program, and the individual children whose lives have been impacted? Also, for next year’s outreach, for those He would draw to this time, for the volunteers, financial provision, supplies, preparation. If you sense the Lord putting it on your heart to become involved in any way, please let us know.
For information email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sports and Games
Leader for each age group + 4 assistants
- Crafts and Cooking
Leader for each age group + 4 assistants
- Creative Arts – Dance/Drama/ Photography
Dance Leader + 4 assistants
Drama Leader + 4 assistants
Photography Leader + assistants as needed
- Craft supplies, sports supplies
- Snack and food items; food for BBQ
- Misc items for prizes
- Financial support (donations are tax deductible)
Biola Congregational Church