Grace Chapel holds VBS at the Park

Aug. 01, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

Two years ago, Justin Garrell, then a student at Davis College, was sitting in Depot Park and saw an avenue to fill a need. He just wasn’t quite sure what the need was.

“I was looking at the stage and Steve Scully, the chairmen of the deacon board (at Grace Chapel Church), he called me and said, ‘I’ve got it. Let’s bring VBS to the Depot Park,’” Garrell, now the children’s minister at Grace Chapel, said. “And I said, ‘Steve, you’ve got no idea where I am.’”

Two years later, Grace Chapel has wrapped up its second year of Vacation Bible School at the Park, a three-day program which concluded Wednesday. The event included free food, inflatables and face-painting for kids and adults to enjoy, as well as working with the Sanford Fire and Police Departments, which brought a fire truck and mobile police unit for kids to look at. The church fed more than 900 people and handed out more than 1,000 bottles of water last year.

By Tuesday of this week, more than 900 bottles had been given away, said Garrell, a graduate of Grace Christian School. But he’s not primarily concerned with their physical health.

“People are searching for something, and it’s not only in their hunger needs and hunger pains and their thirstiness, I think they’re searching for something deeper,” he said. “I think they’re searching for something deeper than food. I think they’re searching for Jesus.”

The program began at 5 p.m., with inflatables for kids to play on and water and popcorn free for anyone who wanted it. Around 6 p.m., the food arrived and a line began to form. An hour later the VBS part of the event began, with a puppet show, some crafts and singing and dancing leading into the most important part of the night for Garrell.

Both Grace Chapel pastor Joel Murr and student Maggie Yow shared words on the love of Jesus Christ Tuesday night.

“Our purpose for bringing the inflatables and the food and the police department and the fire department and the face-painting is to tell Sanford and to show Sanford that Jesus Christ loves them,” Garrell said. “A lot of hopelessness is going on in Sanford and we want to show them some hope, show them the love of Christ.”

That’s the primary concern of the church, Garrell said, to reach Sanford with the message of Christianity. And the church sees this as a good way to do that.

“The believers at Grace Chapel are excited to show the community what God intended the church to do,” Murr said. “We do not want to be a church that stays inside the walls of our building but reaches out to the people of Sanford to let them know that God loves them and so do we.”

Garrell said: “We give them the gospel. We have one message and that’s Jesus Christ loves them, and we’re going to be sharing that all night.”

He said the church reaches out to kids a lot because he sees that age group as such an important one to encourage and to feed, both physically and spiritually. But Garrell doesn’t want to limit it to just the kids.

“At Grace Chapel, we’re going to do anything and everything we can to meet their needs and we’re going to live out our mission statement,” he said, “which is to reach every kid and every adult and every person with the gospel of Christ, and we’re going to take it to the ends of the earth, and we’re going to start in Sanford, N.C., before we can take it to the ends of the earth. We do pretty much both at Grace. We’re just trying to live out our statement at Grace.”