Imperial Community Youth Take Over Leadership of Summer Bible School

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IMPERIAL — The Imperial Community Church youth group took over the leadership of this year’s Vacation Bible School during the week of July 11-15, inspired by the words from Deuteronomy 6:18: “Do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD.”

VBS Director Susan Sanchez, wife of Pastor Albert Sanchez, said, “We paired adult mentors with teens from the youth group for support, but basically have the teens running the program. It is exciting to see these teens blossom as they begin to use their gifts, recognizing their own abilities and strengths.”

About 20 youth attend the weekly youth night that meets Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. After an hour of homework during the school year, they take notes and interact in an hour-long Bible study, followed by an hour of games (or more homework time if needed).

“We are going through the book of John in the Bible,” said Jonny Sais, the youth director who also works at the El Centro Naval Air Facility (NAF). “It is my first year being involved with VBS, doing skits and getting kids involved, and it’s pretty cool.”

Sais, dressed in a heavy coat and fur-lined cap with ear flaps, opened each evening with a skit and closed with review and prayer. Mt. Everest was the visual theme of the Bible school with large images of the cold snow-covered peaks of Mount Everest throughout.

The youth chose their own positions with the director pairing leaders with mentors. I.H.S Senior Brianne Sanchez met with her mentor Francis Eager, a retired missionary to Africa and retired kindergarten teacher. Brianne put lessons into her own words to fit the history of Ruth choosing the right way following the Hebrew God rather than idols, Peter finally choosing the right words despite failing to do so three times, Daniel making the right choice despite the consequences in Nebuchadnezzar’s Court, Deborah being the right example for others to follow, and finally, Stephen depending on God’s power even unto death.

Alexis Zinn, a senior, headed the crafts. “When I came to VBS, crafts were my favorite part and I wanted to show that expression to the youth coming now,” she said. Mentor Marla Jones, an experienced 4-H leader, found her assistance necessary mostly during the actual instruction time with children as Alexis had prepared well.

Matt Woodward led singing with mentor Amanda Guerrero, the church pianist, as well as leading games with mentor Janie Yocupicio, who works at the Navy base. Jacob Maddox was paired with Whitney Wendell for snacks. Retired teacher Karol McNeer mentored Jonny’s wife, Savannah Sais, teaching the memory verse each night.

Ten to 15 teens were at the church all week prior to VBS, working from three to six, or more hours a day, making props, decorating walls, cutting out art lessons, etc. Mike Gilbert led a group to decorate the sanctuary and his wife Teresa led the group decorating the education building and nursery.

Senior Matt Woodward said he was helping, “So that children can learn about God and hopefully they can come to Christ. That’s the whole point of VBS.”

Erica Marshall, an incoming freshman shared, “I met Jesus when I was ten, but realized much later that I wasn’t where I wanted to be. That’s when I accepted Him as LORD. I want kids to realize that Jesus is the only path.”

Many additional adults assisted in registration while many teens were assigned to each group of children for the week in teams. Parents were encouraged to join the opening and closing sessions with the goal of reaching families along with their children.

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