Vacation Bible School Brings Hope for Uvalde
UVALDE, TEX. – It was a quiet morning in the seventh-grade classroom at Fort Worth Adventist Junior Academy in Fort Worth, Tex., where I was assigned that day when I received an alert: “Uvalde Shooting.” It wasn’t until later, though, that I realized the magnitude of that notice.
As the school year ended, I couldn't stop thinking about that terrible scene. I told my husband, “I would like to go to Uvalde and be there just praying for those people.” Within days, Texas Conference Youth & Club Ministries Director Paulo Tenorio shared a post on Facebook inviting people to go to Uvalde. I couldn’t join them for the first visit, but within a short amount of time we were discussing a summer program for the children.
Southwestern Union Conference Children’s Ministries Director Sonia Cano helped me find a curriculum for the program. We chose, “Heroes: Making a Big Difference in Small Ways” Vacation Bible School program which focused on five child heroes in the Bible.
It was amazing to receive support, financial and otherwise, from individuals, churches and organizations. We saw God work in a mighty way as the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center in Uvalde was secured for the event. Even with the challenges, we could see the need for God. There was an entire community crying out for help and hope. “Hope for Uvalde” was born.
Though resources and funds began pouring in, volunteers were still lacking. I reviewed all the messages on social media and decided to personally ask people if they could join us in Uvalde. Some wanted to but could not get off work. Others could only come for a few days. A few bravely traveled from New York to Uvalde. I truly believe God chose each participant with His own divine hand working out the details for their arrival.
Just like any church VBS, the set up day was busy as we decorated the stage where we prayed that many children would meet our beloved Jesus. Even though the volunteers came from different places, we greeted each other naturally as if we had known each other for a long time. It was obvious that we were there for the same purpose to bring hope to this community.
As the program start time came Monday at 5 p.m., I was anxious since few people had arrived. Then, God reminded me this was His program. Approximately 35 people joined us for the first night. The next day we went door-to-door personally inviting people and praying with them. Others shared signs in front of the civic center so people would know about the event.
During that week, the benches were delivered that were made for each victim with their photograph. It was sad to see those parents and relatives go through so much pain and anguish.
Alma Liz Martínez Berrios, a professional therapist and one of our volunteers, shared that having the opportunity to go to Uvalde with her family was a blessing. “As the children went to each station,” she said, “I had the privilege of speaking to parents and grandparents about issues that are of concern to them trying to bring them hope during these difficult times that the community is facing. The Hope for Uvalde Mission Trip brought Hope to Uvalde.”
On Friday afternoon, each child was given a Bible. We pray the Bible would be a blessing and that each boy and girl will know the living God. An Adventurer Club was also started in Uvalde to continue the connection and hope.
Javier Aguilera, a young man who traveled from New York, shared that the experience of coming to Uvalde was a blessing. “Seeing the parents’ smiles and support in bringing their children every night and also wanting their children to learn about Jesus by enrolling them in the Adventurer Club was very moving for me.”
We will not see the full impact of this week until Heaven, when God Himself will wipe away every tear. Until then, let’s continue to pray for Uvalde and help where we can. I challenge every person reading this article to visit Uvalde on a weekend with your church to experience the love and harmony of this beautiful community.
By Sarai Sanchez