By Jamie Ray
BALTIMORE—High-fiving with one hand and holding a melted grape snow cone in the other, 40 children ranging from three to 16-years old, ended their afternoon of Vacation Bible School to the tune, “You’re my brother, you’re my friend…”
A team of 10 led by Brandy Caffey, a former staffer for Embrace Baltimore who now serves as children’s minister at Hype Park Church in Austin, Texas, hosted a Texas-themed Vacation Bible School July 24-27 each evening at the Marble Hall Apartments in Baltimore, Md., as a partnership with Infinity Church.
The first night, five children came out for rag tag, nachos, a Bible story, crafts, music and missions, but in the following days, God brought a crowd of children and parents each night to hear the Gospel of Christ.
“Baltimore was a great place to visit, but the funny thing about that is that most of Baltimore’s visitors don’t make time to go into the rough areas controlled by crime and drugs,” University of Texas student, Travis Brack said.
“Some of the kids we worked with were so hard to compassion and love that they rejected everything we had to say, while others were so attention-hungry they soaked up every word. This area needs God and unless more of us make an effort to impact these kids’ lives, they will never accept or believe that God exists and loves them.”
In addition to VBS, the team also supported Infinity Church through their children’s ministry on Sunday morning along with an outreach at a local laundry-mat, distributing quarters and detergent.
“God used this trip to test my patience and endurance,” Howard Payne University student, Garrett Garner said. “In the end, I met some people who encouraged me in ways I never would have thought and formed friendships with people who normally I would have avoided.”
The week ended with a hamburger cookout, a raffle for parents and some serious rounds of Minute to Win It, but most importantly, 10 children spoke with a counselor about receiving Jesus as their Savior.
“I wasn’t going to be able to fix their situation overnight,” high school senior Madie Leon said. “I couldn’t take them home with me, but I could leave them with a relationship with Jesus Christ, something that could actually make a difference in their life.”
For Caffey, the experience also made a difference in her life.
“It was neat for me to use all my connections and go back to the place that I had lived for the last six months of my serving in Baltimore. When I lived there through the very cold months I had always prayed that someday we could do a VBS in court 2 where I lived in at Marble Hall,” she said.
In addition to serving in her own community, the team stayed at Canton Church’s row home and used Middle River Church’s van and the Baltimore Association’s Good News Wagon. They also had additional prayers of support from other local churches, First Church, Landsdowne and Tabernacle Church. And especially poignant for Caffey: she got to reunite with fellow Embrace staffers, John and Maria Kovach from the Light Church and Lily and Jeremy Cotton-Schmidt from Infinity Church.
“My team of 10 from Texas was blessed to serve in Baltimore, and we are excited about coming back next summer!” she said.
Jamie Ray is a journalism/yearbook teacher at Vista Ridge High School in Leander, Texas. With additional reporting by Shannon Baker.