Photo: Jennifer Hall
How hundreds of children learned to climb Mount Everest while learning a valuable lesson on giving
By Susan Kim*
July 16, 2015—Across the nation, hundreds of children enrolled in Vacation Bible School (VBS) are not only learning about the faith and courage it takes to climb Mount Everest, they are also donating money to earthquake survivors in Nepal.
Kids who join “climbing teams” at their churches are participating in a curriculum entitled ““Everest: Conquering Challenges with God’s Mighty Power.” They learn about how to rely on God when life gets tough, and also about communities in Nepal and around Mount Everest devastated by the April 25 earthquake.
To date, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), in collaboration with local and international partners, has responded with more than $800,000 toward relief and recovery in Nepal. The VBS children’s donations, prayers, and awareness will allow UMCOR to help even more earthquake survivors.
“I spent three months in Nepal many years ago and I know firsthand that it is a beautiful, inspiring landscape, populated by very hospitable, industrious people,” said the Rev. Jack Amick, assistant general secretary for UMCOR International Disaster Response. “My heart sank when I first learned of the disaster.”
Amick said he is deeply thankful that VBS classes across the nation are representing a collective sense of hope. “Through this act of sharing, the kids at United Methodist churches in the U.S. are demonstrating God’s grace and the beauty of the UMC connection, as they care for children and young people and families they’ve never met.”
Local Churches Climb Everest
At the Round Rock United Methodist Church (UMC) in Texas, 466 VBS children raised nearly $1,500 for UMCOR. In addition to offering a spiritual journey and a lesson in giving, “This was an opportunity to teach the kids a geography lesson and a current event,” said Director of Children’s Ministries Jennifer Hall.
Hundreds of miles away, the Poplar Springs Drive UMC in Meridian, Miss., looked like a high-altitude concert was about to start. “We liked the Everest theme, and we have people from our church who definitely go all out with lights,” said Director of Children's Ministries Katie Meador.
Pam Russell, director of children’s ministries at the Horne Memorial UMC in Clayton, N.C., said her church had already decided to use the Everest-themed VBS curriculum even before the earthquake struck Nepal. “When the earthquake happened, we knew immediately that we should combine the theme with an opportunity to help,” she said. “We have lots of creative thinkers willing to jump in, explore the theme, and make it exciting.”
Your gifts to International Disaster Response, Advance #982450 helps UMCOR respond in a timely way to international emergencies.
*Susan Kim is a journalist and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org.