It is a common ministry model to do a lot of outreach during Summer. In Bible college we learned that “Gather, Grow, Go” model, and Summer is when most of the “go” happens. Fair enough, there’s plenty of “going” to go around during the year, but Summer presents unique opportunities to reach out to many, especially children. Churches in the Galilee have been holding Vacation Bible Schools almost since their foundation, but the change in the socio-demography in the recent years is making the outreach more successful.
For many years Arab women stayed at home and raised their children. The growth in number of working Arab women between the years 1974 and 1992 fluctuated but lingered in the 10% region. Between the years 1992 and 2009 there was an increase of 10%. Then between the years 2009 and 2016 there was another 10% jump resulting in just over 30% of Arab women employment. By all means, the growth of the number of working Arab women is very positive: it is a significant boost to the home economics, and it strengthens the social status of Arab women in the Arab society.
While the above is very positive, the need for the women, as the primary educator, to be at home becomes bigger during the summer. Most of the year children are at school which gives the mother ease of mind towards their wellbeing. But come summer break, children stay at home which presents a challenge for parents, especially if the grandparents are not around to help. This is a situation that summer camps present a viable solution to.
Summer camps in Israel are mostly different than they are in the USA. Most summer camps there have the children sleep at the camp site for lengthy periods of time. In Israel, though, the vast majority of summer camps are day camps where the children show up in the morning and leave in the afternoon then come the next day and so forth. So, in a sense, summer camps present a solution much like schools do during the school year, giving parents peace of mind about their children’s wellbeing.
There are many entities that run several summer camps in a given city or village. Usually the local authority holds a one week long summer camp. Sometimes a certain organization holds one as well. But vacation Bible schools have found favor in the eyes of many, and numbers of attending children are growing yearly. Children from different backgrounds attend the VBS and have fun, like most other camps out there, but what sets them apart is the love of Jesus and the heart of the counselors.
Many of the children are touched by the love of their counselors and they see the love of Jesus displayed in them. It is the utmost importance to impact the lives of the children to have a person encounter with the Lord. Yes, these are big words to use when speaking of children, but it is crucial to understand the importance of reaching children at a young age with the love of Jesus. After all, out of such children the Lord grew many of today's wonderful leaders.
We can’t wait to see what the Lord will do this year.