The East Stroudsburg Salvation Army Youth Group was awarded a Strike Point Grant to implement and execute a Vacation Bible School (VBS) Missions Trip, which they conducted in August, in the Pen Argyl, PA Corps. They were responsible for selecting and purchasing all VBS materials, including decorations, crafts and snacks, as well as planning and executing the VBS program.
After months of Evangelism and Leadership training by Youth Ministries Director Jayne Marquet, our VBS team, Kiana Cleveland, Hayley Counterman, Emmalee Dunning, Jordan Knecht, William Marquet, April Nurse, Miranda Quiles and Emily Trimarchi successfully and joyfully implemented and executed the Vacation Bible School Mission Trip at The Salvation Army's Pen Argyl Corps.
Our Youth Group chose Pen Argyl because they saw an opportunity to help a smaller Pen Argyl Corps build up their congregation throughout the year. "The fact that the East Stroudsburg Corps thought about us was wonderful," said Captain Barbara Cure, Commanding Officer, Pen Argyl, PA. "It was a terrific way for us to reach out to the community. I am very grateful."
"This was an extraordinary experience for our kids," said Jayne Marquet. "It helped prepare them to take on bigger responsibilities at our Corps because our leaders won't be here forever. They are building a skill set to step in and be ready when needed."
This year's VBS theme was Everest and to prepare the program, our youth developed the curriculum, chose crafts, food, decorations and prizes . They led the welcome each night, told bible stories, prepared snacks, led the singing and assisted children with crafts and science projects. "We started planning in January 2015, right up until VBS," Jayne commented. "Our group was very excited and enthusiastic about this opportunity."
"This was a really big step for me," says 16 year old Hayley Counterman. "I am a shy person and this pushed me out of my comfort zone and brought up my self esteem." Hayley aspires to be a school teacher one day and says she was grateful to have the opportunity to gain confidence "and to be like Jayne."
"The kids were phenomenal," Hayley gushes. "It was the first time I was in the position of authority so I was a little nervous at first but the kids' interaction with us was fantastic."
Captain Barbara Cure, Commanding Officer of the Pen Argyl Corps agrees. "This was a lovely experience for our kids. The East Stroudsburg teens developed a real connection with our kids."
Our Youth Group chose Pen Argyl, specifically, to try and help them build their ministry throughout the year. Captain Cure was nervous at first because enrollment was low. "We only had a handful of kids participate and I was disappointed at first. But after the first night I realized it was exactly as it was supposed to be. It was wonderful to see our children learn about God from teenagers, especially to have a unique one-on-one experience. What a special and memorable week it turned out to be."
Kiana Cleveland, 17, knew it would be hard to get up in front of people, no matter how old they were. "At our Corps, Jayne does it all. At Pen Argyl, we did it," she said. "But by the end of the week, I actually taught kids about God; and it was awesome," she smiled proudly.
"I will always remember how those kids listened to me talk about God. I was so lucky to witness how accepting Christ changed them," remembers Jordan Knecht, 16. "By the end of the week, they told us stories. This experience changed me."
"I am overjoyed with our team," says Jayne. "They openly shared their faith and inspired children to learn more about God. They proved to themselves that they are leaders and have the power to spread their faith to others. I am so grateful to have gotten this grant."
The mission of the Strike Point Initiative was to train Corps teens and young adults in Evangelism and to develop leadership qualities, while being of practical assistance to the Pen Argyl Corps, through a dynamic Vacation Bible School program.
Mission Complete...and then some!