Building spiritual community at Yokota VBS

Base Info
Children participate in outdoor activities during Yokota’s Annual Vacation Bible School at Yokota Air Base, Japan, June 22, 2016. Approximately 150 children enrolled in Yokota’s 2016 VBS, where they participated in various activities, including song and dance, science experiments and snack time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker/Released)
Children participate in outdoor activities during Yokota’s Annual Vacation Bible School at Yokota Air Base, Japan, June 22, 2016. Approximately 150 children enrolled in Yokota’s 2016 VBS, where they participated in various activities, including song and dance, science experiments and snack time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker/Released)

Building spiritual community at Yokota VBS

by: Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker, 374th Airlift Wing/Public Affairs | .
Yokota Air Base | .
published: July 02, 2016

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- More than 150 children participated in Yokota’s Annual Vacation Bible School June 19 to 24.

Every summer, the chapel hosts VBS during the week after school releases, Monday through Friday for three hours each morning.

This year’s theme was “Cave Quest: Following Jesus, the light of the world.” Children traveled in groups between five different cave-themed stations doing activities such as sports, snack time and science experiments.

“For each activity the volunteers use hands-on communication to engage kids in song, movement, and team work to reinforce the Bible lesson,” said Gwyn Poock, VBS director’s assistant. “We try to reach kids with every learning style, whether they love to be active or they love science or crafts, we try to help each kid internalize the Bible point in a way that works for their style.”

The activities are designed to be fun and entertaining while teaching spiritual lessons.  

“We’re been learning about how God helps us and how he gives us hope and courage,” said Kiera Cash, one of the participating children. “My favorite part has been getting to be closer to God. I’ve also made a lot of friends here. The most fun part is dancing and singing.”

According to Poock, the benefits of VBS don’t reach just the participants. More than 60 volunteers assisted in set up and running the program, including a team of five volunteers who spent at least 40 hours transforming the main base chapel into a crystal-encrusted cave.

“Getting together with the community builds those relationships that help us thrive while living in a foreign country,” Poock added.

Tammy McBride, VBS director, also commented on the community aspect of VBS.

“There’s so much unity in it,” McBride said. “It’s wonderful to see. The younger kids, especially the ones taking on the assistant group-leader roles, love helping out and being in charge. They love seeing how they’re having a positive influence on the younger kids.”

The VBS team and participants are also looking to make a positive impact on the community as well by accepting food donations for charitable ministries. McBride and Poock invite anyone to bring donations to the main chapel. They also asked any parent sending a child to VBS consider volunteering since the program is growing by 20 to 25 children every year.

“Our hope is that at the end of the five days, every kid and every volunteer and their families get the message that Jesus loves them, he’s with them every day and he gives them hope, courage, direction, love and power,” McBride said.

For more information about VBS, volunteering or what items to donate, contact the main base chapel at 225-7009.

Tags: Yokota Air Base, Base Info
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