By Daniel Brunty The Winston County Journal
Most vacation bible schools take place inside a church or building, with children spending half their day in it and the other half outside.
Ellison Ridge Church, however, incorporated a new style of vacation bible school that is taught mostly outside and places a big emphasis on bible lessons. The church was proud to host “Bible School under the Big Top” ran by Tim Horton of Crosswalk Ministries. The them for the week was “God is Real, The Bible is True, and Jesus Loves You.”
This is a revolutionary new type of bible school that incorporates a tent-revival feel and was brought to the south by Horton. “I learned how to do these kind of bible schools four years ago,” Horton said. “I went out to help a missionary in Montana. The Lord put on my heart that I need to be doing these kind of bible schools here in Mississippi and the south.”
The bible school started on June 25 and ended on June 29. Everyday consists of a march with a cadence using religious tones. Then the group does pledges to the Bible, the Christian flag, then and the American flag. Then the group sings songs that are familiar to children but change the wording to a Christian related theme. Next is an offering in which Horton uses two buckets, one for the boys and one for the girls, and place it on a balance beam t see which group has the most in offerings. So the children get an opportunity everyday to add to the offering. The offering goes to the church for their use. Then a bible study is taught to the children.
Next is a books of the bible relay, which consist of all the books of the bible being written on blocks and the children must put them in correct order. This allows the children to learn the books of the bible. Next are games in which they learn bible lessons while playing. Next is snacks and crafts, which is done by workers from the church. “I take the first two hours of the day and then the workers of the church have the last hour for snacks and crafts,” Horton said.
“Bible School under the Big Top” is steady receiving acclaim by churches and schools who have presented the program. Horton is hoping that it will expand to other areas in the south. “This is my third year in it,” Horton said. “We got 13 schools this year in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi.”
Horton and his ministry created the bible school to accommodate all churches that are interested. “I cater to three different groups,” Horton said. “One is churches that cannot afford bible school material. Materials are very expensive nowadays. Some of the smaller churches cannot afford it. Two, there are a lot of churches who can afford the material, but they cannot find workers. A lot of people are too busy to work at bible school. Third, there are a lot of churches that want something different. Maybe they are tired of the regular bible school materials and want something a little more old- fashioned that majors on the bible and not other things.”
The bible school is very different from others, with the main part of the service being taught by only one instructor. “One of the things we do differently in our bible school through Crosswalk Ministries is we do everything individually,” Horton said. “I teach the bible school individually and use a lot of props to teach a bible story. Some kids nowadays do not read a lot. But if they can see something that shows them, like for example I made a Goliath model built out of PVC pipe and stands 9 feet 9 inches tall.”
With the program being more focused on teaching children bible lessons and about missions and other parts of the church, all the activities surround this central idea.
“The kids learn something everyday with this bible school,” Horton said. “Even our games that we play, they learn something about the bible. Everything that we do, maybe it is a big thing or a little thing, about the bible or about Christ or God because here is my philosophy. What one kid may miss in the bible study, they may pick it up during the game.”
Horton is hoping other churches will soon look to having these types of bible schools in the future and want others to know that even in these financial times that they can still take part in this. “Another thing about our ministry, we don’t charge for the bible schools,” Horton said. “We only take a love offering. I have a big truck to haul the equipment around, and the love offering is used for gas and other expenses. Besides that, anyone who is interested in the bible school can contact us.”
Crosswalk Ministries and Horton are steadily going around the South spreading a message of God’s love and pray that they are reaching the children the are teaching. “I feel very sure that God is going to expand Crosswalk Ministries and we may be doing this full-time in the future,” Horton said. “Hopefully by the end of the week the children go home with a better knowledge of the bible, and know that God loves them even if no one else does.” For more information regarding “Bible School under the Big Top” bile school, please contact Tim Horton at 601-481-4795.