Methodists opt for ‘Sweat Week,’ teaching youngsters about missions

Published 12:47 am Saturday, June 3, 2017

One might call it an alternative to traditional Vacation Bible School. Or one might say the experience at Andalusia First United Methodist Church next week is more akin to “mission trip meets staycation.”

Organizers are calling it Sweat Week, and they hope to combine all of the fun elements of a traditional VBS with an opportunity for even the youngest of children to participate in missions.

Organizer Katie King said the four-day program, set for June 12-15, will include personal, church, local and international mission opportunities.

“This year we will do a coin competition between the girls and boys to buy a llama from Heifer International,” King said. “The kids think llamas are hilarious. We will also collect plastic grocery sacks for the Full Tummy Project.

“We make items to donate locally, like a pillow for each foster child to receive when they are brought to DHR, and a teddy bear for the moms at Sav-a-Life. We also do some projects for our church, like art for the classrooms, bulletin boards and planters that help beautify our children’s wing.”
Identifying good projects was the most fun part, she said.

“There are so many local organizations that are trying to serve others,” she said. “We just try to figure out how we can do real, meaningful projects that are additive to those groups.

“One thing that is so special is that we invite a guest speaker involved with the organization we are serving to come and talk with the kids about why their service is so important and who it affects. This gives the kids perspective as to why serving others is vital to being a Christ follower. Jesus was the perfect example of how we are to live in the world…loving others without question and serving them cheerfully!”
The program is for children aged 4 through 5th grade. And as improbable as it might sound, four-year-olds can be helpful, too.

“First of all, we have phenomenal volunteers who make all our crafts and projects easy and fun for all ages,” King said. “The kids get to be creative with each project. But I have found that the youngest among us give without question and love taking care of other people, so it’s easy to get them excited about making something to give away.

“We also incorporate other crafts that they get to take home, because an important message that we teach is that all service is rewarded in its own way and blesses all who are involved,” she said.

In addition to the mission activities, children will participate in scripture memory, songs, recreation and games, crafts and, of course, snack time.

An added feature this year is that the church will “serve” parents by hosting a Parent’s Night Out on Wednesday night.

“Our youth will keep the kids at church for dinner and a movie so our moms and dads can get a little quiet time,” King said.

The verse for Sweat Week is John 13:34-35, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

“All of our activities and songs have a love or heart theme,” King said.

King said she chose the format so that kids could understand early the importance of serving others.

“It allows them to have an outward focus while still being confined to the church campus,” she said. “As a parent, I find that empathy is a learned trait. We are born to want to take care of our needs first!  So I appreciate any opportunity for my kids to see that the world is bigger than their own little bubble.”
Registration forms are available at the church office, located on East Three Notch Street, and all from the community are welcome to participate.

Sweat Week hours are 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., Monday through Thursday, and 5:15 until 8 p.m. on Wed., June 14.

For additional information, call 222-5018.