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Danville Church Brings VBS to Lisu Children in Richmond

Posted: 8/22/18 at 7:40am. Article by Janet Hilliard.

There is a children’s song that says, “It’s a small world after all; it’s a small world after all; it’s a small world after all; it’s small, small world.”

This summer, the members of our multi-generational missions team from Moffett Memorial Baptist Church in Danville, VA, experienced this truth only 150 miles from home.

God had been preparing us for this mission opportunity even before we knew that we had this divine appointment at Lisu Grace Church.

We had the privilege of providing the first Vacation Bible School at the Lisu Grace Church, which meets at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Richmond’s historic Fan District.

Tabernacle has been welcoming people escaping forced labor, civil war, and religious persecution in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) since 2007. The Lisu people are the most recent of those refugees to relocate to Richmond.

God had been preparing us for this mission opportunity even before we knew that we had this divine appointment at Lisu Grace Church.

The theme we chose last winter for our VBS at Moffett was, “Babylon, Daniel’s Courage in Captivity,” which was also a perfect theme for us to share with Lisu children who are adjusting to life in a different culture.

We shared Bible stories through daily drama based on the lives of the Old Testament characters, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Through Bible stories, music, crafts, recreation, and fellowship, we were able to help the Lisu children experience the joy of knowing that because God is with us, we can have courage like Daniel did.

Anne Shields, the “Lollipop Lady” at Moffett, prepared homemade lollipops in the shape of feet to sweetly remind the children that Jehovah Jirah was guiding their steps through the changes in their lives. Our favorite song quickly became “Stand firm when life changes; stand firm through the ups and downs; stand firm, because we know that God is in control!”

There was not too much of a language barrier with the children, since they go to public school, but it was more challenging to communicate verbally with the adults. We found that the Holy Spirit transcends all barriers and that smiles, hugs, and prayers communicate well in any language.

We saw God at work, as God enabled us to adapt to meet needs as they arose. As in any VBS, the first day was a challenge, but our team members were committed to being the hands and feet of Christ. They let his love shine in their interactions with some very active children. Everyone needed a nap afterward!

We spent our afternoons serving in the clothes closet and food pantry ministries at Tabernacle. Team members sorted clothes and shoes and packed grocery bags with non-perishable food.

A highlight of this ministry for us was serving the people who came to the church on Thursday afternoon to visit the clothes closet and to get the food we had prepared. Fresh fruits and vegetables were beautiful and available, and we were blessed to help people enjoy selecting what would be best for their families.

On Wednesday afternoon our team had the opportunity to visit the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) office building, which is also in Richmond. We were greeted by John Upton, our Executive Director, and his assistant, Marilee White.

John invited us to his office where he and Dean Miller, our Mission Development Staff Coordinator, told us stories of BGAV’s ministry partnerships in Haiti and Kenya. Through pictures and their personal anecdotes, we were caught up in the spirit of missions and the many possibilities that await us as we continue to seek ways to be Kingdom builders.

After a guided tour by Marilee, we left the resource center proud to be Virginia Baptists!

There were many God moments during our week in Richmond, but one of the most memorable happened each morning as Lawt Awng, Pastor of Lisu Grace Church, prayed over the children in their native tongue.

We felt God’s power and presence as he prayed, and even though we did not understand his words, we were profoundly reminded that we are all part of one faith family. With Pastor Awng’s permission we video recorderd him praying, and through the miracle of technology we shared this God moment in our Sunday worship service.

The power and spirit of Pastor Awng’s prayer had the same effect on the people who were gathered in our sanctuary. Though prayed in a language unknown to us, his morning prayer transcended the language barrier, and we knew that the Holy Spirit was moving among us.

That same, sweet Spirit that had prepared us for our time with the Lisu children was binding us together and reminding us that it is indeed a small world when you are part of the family of God.

Janet Hilliard is a member of Moffett Memorial Baptist Church, a BGAV-member congregation in Danville, VA. She also serves as a member of the BGAV Mission Council.