Ministering to the Most Wonderful

December 15, 2022

It was a Vacation Bible School program that brought Sonia Canó into the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a 14-year-old in Mexico. After joining the Church, her first involvement in ministry was working in a Sabbath school class. No wonder Canó has a passion for children’s ministries!

Canó, the Southwestern Union children’s ministries director, has served in the area of children’s ministries for more than 35 years, bringing resources and training to volunteers around the world. “Children’s ministries is the most fun way to teach the Gospel,” said Canó. “You can do it—with crafts, with games, with music and songs, and with activities—to the most wonderful people in the world.”

The children’s ministries department connects volunteers with a wide array of resources and training to help them reach and involve children in ministry. One of the newest resources is the North American Division (NAD) GoFish program, which helps children discover their spiritual gifts and train them in how to use those gifts for God.

Other resources include training for child evangelism, tools for involving kids in stewardship and plans for putting on a children’s health expo.

And, of course, there’s Vacation Bible School (VBS). “VBS is our number one evangelistic tool,” said Canó. Every year the NAD produces a new VBS program. This year’s VBS theme is Fiercely Faithful, focussing on the story of Ruth.

Children’s ministries volunteers who are interested in learning more about the VBS program and experiencing it for themselves won’t want to miss the annual children’s ministries retreat happening the weekend of March 10-12 at Lone Star Camp in Athens, Texas. Presenters from the NAD will introduce the VBS program, as well as the new GoFish program. Attendees will have the opportunity to experience both of these programs the way that children will—as participants.

The theme for this year’s retreat is “Seek and Find.” Seminars and classes will focus on children’s mental health, providing volunteers with tools to help children understand and deal with their emotions in a healthy way.

But it isn’t only children’s emotions that will be affected by this retreat. One of the most important aspects of the retreat is the gathering of children’s ministries volunteers, who sometimes feel alone in their work. “A lot of times those leaders are worn out,” said Canó. This retreat provides them a place to gather with others who have the same spiritual calling—and to be motivated for another year of service.

Every volunteer who works with children is serving a vital role. “One person cannot do a job for five conferences. It takes the hard work of volunteers,” said Canó, who believes the Church would have less problems keeping young people in the Church if more time and energy were devoted to children.

Learn more about the Southwestern Union children’s ministries retreat at or call 817.295.0478.

By Lori Futcher
Record Freelance Writer