Alliance Workers Bring VBS to Public School

“We are excited to step through the doors that God opens for us,” said John Sappia, an Alliance international worker in Paraguay. For two years, John and his colleagues have been ministering at an elementary/middle school near Mi Esperanza (My Hope) Alliance Church through outreaches such as vacation Bible school (VBS).

Prior to one VBS hosted by an Alliance church in San Diego, Alliance workers told the principal that they planned to discuss Jesus’ miracles.

“No problem,” said the principal.

“The school really sees this ministry as important,” said Alliance worker Forest Schell.

Earlier this summer, John asked how he could better serve the students and faculty. The principal invited him to come to the middle school twice a month to present seminars that teach life values. The topics include respect, leadership, honoring parents, and more. About 90 students attend the classes.

“These seminars have been well received,” said John.

In June, a team of Alliance teenagers from Orlando, Florida, traveled to Paraguay to assist John and his colleagues. Instead of inviting local children to come to church for VBS, the team went into the school to conduct a similar program. About 250 students participated each day.

During this time, two team members painted a mural of the school’s mascot, an eagle, on the outside wall, along with the verse from Isaiah 40:31: “. . . but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Initially, the principal received some negative feedback from the parents, who wanted to know why evangelicals were allowed into the school. When she told the parents what John and his team taught in the seminars, they fully supported the program, and the team was invited back in mid-July to help with an afterschool outreach.

Pastor Marcos Bernadini, vice president of the Alliance national church in Paraguay, also is working in the schools with a full-time colleague. Each week, they present leadership training material, along with the gospel. In June, they took the students on a retreat and had opportunities to share the good news with many of them.

“Thank you so much for your prayers!” John said. “God is responding to your intercession.”

—based on reports by John Sappia and Forest Schell


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