VBS: Connecting kids in need with kids who care
    May 26 2011 by Sarah Palmer Goff, Baptist Global Response

    The Iranian boy and his family left their home to escape conflict and persecution. They sought a better life in Greece, but it wasn’t the dreamland they envisioned. The family is stuck “living in limbo” — they can’t leave the country, but are unrecognized by the government.

    Lost in the system, illegal citizens with no rights or a way to work, they are “non-persons.” The boy’s parents have no way of gaining income, and he can’t attend a Greek school. He could get an education through a nearby co-op, but his family can’t even buy the basic school supplies needed for that.

    Sadly, this boy’s plight is all too common. Children across the globe can’t afford the simplest of supplies needed to attend school.

    Now a Baptist Global Response (BGR) project will provide children with the basic supplies they so desperately need — and give them the opportunity to attend school.

    FILLING — LifeWay Christian Resources is highlighting a school supply kit for Baptist Global Response through its Vacation Bible Schools this summer.

    BGR’s “Kits for Kids” project will launch full-force this summer as the featured project in the missions rotation of LifeWay Christian Resources’ Vacation Bible School summer program. LifeWay is partnering with BGR to send the educational kits to BGR partners overseas who have requested kits and will distribute them to children in need.

    When LifeWay expressed interest in partnering with BGR for their 2011 VBS program, everyone agreed the kits were “perfect for VBS because it’s about kids, it’s for kids and kids would be collecting it,” Funderburk said. LifeWay had partnered with BGR in 2010 to promote the In-Home Care Kits, but that project was too expensive for and difficult to explain to children. Darlene Parrish, LifeWay content editor for VBS curriculum, said they were interested in partnering with BGR on Kits for Kids because many churches want to include a hands-on mission project in VBS, and children would easily understand the need for school supplies.

    “The Kits for Kids campaign will help children understand there are places where simple things like notebook paper and pencils are luxuries that are hard to come by,” Parrish said. “They can be kids who care about other kids who don’t have those same luxuries. In addition, kids will learn there are many ways they can help and ‘do something big for God,’ whether that’s for children far away or just down their street.

    “We want kids to understand that this is what God has called us to do: to reach to others and help them in His name, and they get to be a part of that,” Parrish said. Lori Funderburk, BGR’s prayer strategist, and Regina Palmer, the group’s signature projects coordinator, are co-coordinating the Kits for Kids initiative.

    “An important aspect of the project is that it’s something the children could actually do themselves — going to the store with their parents and picking out the supplies from the shopping list,” Funderburk noted. “In doing so, the children could make a connection that a child across the globe will use these same supplies they use and these supplies will help a child who couldn’t go to school otherwise.”

    As of May 17, Funderburk and Palmer have received requests from BGR partners in 31 countries for approximately more than 138,000 kits. Many large requests have come from the South Africa region — including countries such as Rwanda, Botswana, Kenya and Madagascar — and the countries of China and the Philippines. The largest area of request by far is Asia, with 18 project requests for approximately 56,000 kits.

    Though VBS is sponsoring the project, anyone can pack a kit, Funderburk said. Groups that have already contacted BGR to pack kits include Women’s Missionary Union chapters, university students, whole churches and individual families. Even packing just one kit is fine “because one will make a difference to that person,” she said.

    The kits give churches and individuals an opportunity to change the world and make a difference — something they often don’t know how to approach, Funderburk said.

    Ben Wolf, BGR area director for Asia Rim, said he is excited about the impact these kits could have in so many different areas and ways.

    The Asia Rim region is diverse, from the world’s largest population in China, the big inland country of Mongolia, and third-world Cambodia to the smallest of islands in Fiji,” Wolf said. “The kits will be used in tribal areas, as well as big urban centers.

    “The kids are some of the poorest of the poor. These are families that are living from hand to mouth or just daily — what they earn today pays for supper tonight,” Wolf said. “They have no additional income to pay for the basic need of school supplies.”

    The kits will make an impact on entire families, not just children, because when you minister to the children in a family, new relationships and trust are built, Wolf added.

    To learn more about this project and how to pack a kit, visit www.vbskitsforkids.org.
    5/26/2011 5:12:00 AM by Sarah Palmer Goff, Baptist Global Response | with 0 comments

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