On their shirts read a verse from Micah 6:8, “to act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.”
In their mouths were song, and in their hearts a love for the children of Eastpoint, especially those from families affected by the devastating Lime Rock Road fire.
With the splashing from a water slide set up at Vrooman Park, the flames of despair got a happy dousing at the Aug. 10 Hope in the Park, the culmination of a weeklong Vacation Bible School at First Baptist Church of Eastpoint.
For the third year in a row, the VBS came about thanks to the work of high schoolers from Calvary Central Chapel in Chalfont, Pennsylvania, in Bucks County, a northern suburb of Philadelphia.
For a week, the youth in the Pulse Student Ministry made crafts, played games, learned songs and dances, ate breakfast and lunch, and most of all shared the lessons of the Gospel with about 50 Eastpoint kids at the church at 447 Avenue A. In addition, a handful of kids in Carrabelle were served each morning at the Methodist church there.
Josh Aldrich, who oversees the youth ministry, said the high schoolers did several service projects as well, from yard work to helping make a backyard deck handicap accessible. On their way down they had brought a truck full of donations for fire victims all along Wilderness and Ridge roads.
This was not the first time for the Bucks County group. Back in 2016, Linda McIntyre, the former head of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) in Bucks County, part of an international outreach to help train and nurture leaders in youth ministry, had retired and moved down to Franklin County.
Her connections with Doris Pendleton, active at the church, led her to realize a gap existed in terms of youth outreach, and McIntyre set out to help, working with Eastpoint Pastor Doug Boucher, and with her church connections back in Bucks County, to bring alive a partnership.
McIntyre, who is in a fight against cancer, has turned the reins of the CEF over to daughter Alyssa, and as director she took an active part in the weeklong VBS.
Among the songs she helped the kids dramatize was Matthew West’s hit “Hello, My Name Is….” and at the Hope in the Park event, the kids dramatized its powerful message by draping placards labeled “Regret” and “Despair” over a counselor, only to see them removed by the discovery that they were all a “Child of the One True King.”
“It’s a really good way to get them all involved,” said McIntyre.
Alyssa’s brother Paul, who is a worship leader at First Baptist Church of Sopchoppy, also took part in the VBS.
In addition to starting their work with the VBS in 2016, the Bucks County kids last Christmas came down for a huge event, distributing a semi-trailer truck filled with everything from cots and coolers, to bicycles and toys.
They plan to keep coming back down to help, and they are especially happy that their efforts have helped jumpstart a Sunday School program and an ongoing, sustainable youth outreach.
“We can plant those seeds of God, and watch for the rest of the year as others harvest them,” said highschooler Ben Komita.