Faith Baptist holds Hometown Nazareth Bible school

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 26, 2011

By Hugh Fisher
FAITH – The fellowship hall at Faith Baptist Church was recently transformed into the town of Nazareth in the first century A.D.
Tents housed food vendors, fabric makers and a shop that pressed fresh olive oil.
It was all part of the setting for “Hometown Nazareth,” this year’s theme for Vacation Bible School.
“It’s been really successful,” Angela Mahoney said.
As minister of students, Mahoney helped run this year’s VBS program.
She said there were many ways for children to experience Jesus’ love and story in their own lives.
A number of area churches chose “Hometown Nazareth” as this year’s VBS program, and each had a slightly different way of bringing Nazareth to life.
At Faith Baptist, leaders transformed the fellowship hall into a first-century town, complete with homes and marketplace.
Visitors were greeted by a life-size camel set against a desert backdrop.
Kids and staff were able to sit atop the camel for photos.
The fellowship hall was filled with colorful hangings and canopy tents. Leaders wore shawls and robes like those worn in the time of Christ.
Activities included a nightly story time where a church member portraying Mary, the mother of Jesus, told stories from his youth and ministry.
Each evening, students receives “shekels” to spend at the various booths.
They could buy their snacks or take part in a variety of activities in the marketplace.
Shirley Russ ran the olive oil booth. She explained to kids how olives were used as more than food.
“In Jesus’ time, that was the important tree,” she said. “There was hardly anything they didn’t use olive trees for.”
Olive oil provided light in lamps, and a source of soothing comfort for wounds and sore muscles.
Using lavender and other natural fragrances from Biblical times, kids created an olive oil balm that they could take home.
Clement Eagle helped man the carpentry booth. With cotton wool and wooden frames he cut himself, Eagle showed kids how to assemble a toy sheep.
“We’re sure Jesus played at Joseph’s carpenter shop,” Eagle said.
And the symbolism of the sheep — the Lamb of God — was also important as part of the lessons taught.
At the “Farmer’s Field” booth, kids could pay a shekel, then practice grinding real wheat into flour using a mortar and pestle.
Afterward, they got to taste the fruits of that labor: a fresh-baked biscuit.
“The whole thing is meant for them to interact with us, for them to respond,” said Kim Carr, who helped staff the booth.
Nearby, children saw a weaving loom in action, and practiced plaiting yarn to make necklaces.
“We do our best to tell them about Jesus,” said Ann Holzmeister.
Not only that, but to teach them about the crafts and ways of life that people used to depend on, now lost in the face of technology.
“Between the texting and the video games, they don’t really get out and do much anymore,” Pat Bullock said.
She brought a loom and yarn from home, and supervised the activities.
Not everything in Nazareth was “good.” Pat Barton acted as the “tax collector,” demonstrating how life in Biblical times wasn’t always fair.
“They overtaxed and made their own wealth,” Barton said. “They could give the Romans what they wanted and keep the rest for themselves.”
Tax collectors are mentioned in the Bible as an example of the outcasts Jesus ministered to.
When the Nazareth marketplace opened, kids streamed in and quickly made their way to favorite booths.
Snacks, obviously, were a major draw. Kids lined up to pay a shekel and get a bowl of Goldfish crackers, fresh fruit or popcorn.
For Aaron Misenheimer, 8, the highlight of the week was finding out that Jesus was once a boy just like him.
“He has a family, and we’ve been studying them,” Misenheimer said. “And he serves other people.”
Hayleigh Vaughn, 8, said her favorite part was making a tie-dyed bag at one craft booth.
Those bags were then to be filled with Bibles and sent abroad as part of a mission project.
As kids had fun making crafts and learning some of the things people in Nazareth did to earn a living, Russ said she hoped they also got a richer understanding of the Bible.
Even something as simple as making a sweet-smelling oil had a lesson to impart.
“We compare our lives to the olive tree,” Russ said. “We, too, are to be strong and to bear fruit.”
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.