New School for Old Testament Glen Ellyn Teen Puts Creative Mind to Work at Vacation Bible School
Kadin, Deborah, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Deborah Kadin Daily Herald Staff Writer
Glen Ellyn's Southminster Presbyterian Church turned into a train station a few days this summer - to bring home the importance of trust.
And much of the work that helped put children on a four-day journey to learn trust in God came from the creative mind of Glen Ellyn resident Karissa Schmoe.
Karissa, 13, selected the theme and created the community service projects.
With friends, she helped decorate the church to resemble a station, complete with tracks made of duct tape, a phone booth, snack machine and a train created out of boxes.
It was a rewarding experience for the Glen Crest Middle School eighth-grader, whose faith deepened because of the experience and who became even closer to her mother, Barbara Schmoe.
"I wanted to help my mother with Bible school," said Karissa whose mother was the Bible school's director. "I was proud of what I accomplished and I learned how important it is to work with others and stick to a goal. It's also an important message for children to learn."
Karissa attended vacation Bible school for years. The mother- daughter team decided to create their own program because materials on the market did not excite them.
They also wanted to avoid using materials that children may have used at other vacation Bible schools during the summer.
They found it would be difficult to adapt some of the programs to their own program.
For instance, Son Canyon River Adventure, a program that uses a whitewater river adventure theme to teach children about survival skills based on proverbs, looked like fun. But it wouldn't work because it required youngsters to be involved in the same activity for the entire morning, Barbara Schmoe said.
Southminster's program requires youngsters to be in a different activity every 20 minutes.
Some of the crafts that were in some programs were clever, but the kids could do them in five minutes, said Laura Crawford, the church's director of religious education.
In other programs, some of the materials would be above some of the kids heads because they might not attend a regular Sunday School program, Karissa said.
Barbara Schmoe and Karissa also found that the programs were centered around the New Testament.
"We wanted to go back to the Old Testament," Barbara Schmoe said. "Christians believe that Jesus is their savior and Jesus was Jewish. We wanted children to realize that the basis of our faith comes from the Jewish religion."
Said Karissa, "We need to know where the source of our faith came from and we need to know more about it."
It didn't take long for Karissa to come up with the idea of trust.
"When I was young, we did a lot on trust, but it's not necessarily something we learned about in Sunday School," she said. "I think it's a message we should learn more about especially after Sept. 11."
From there, she pored over the Bible and came up with Old Testament stories that drove home the point: Moses and the Israelites Crossing the Red Sea, Daniel in the Lion's Den, Jonah and the Whale and Shadrach, Meschach and Abendego.
It was the story of three brothers who put their trust in God when they were thrown into the furnace by a king for refusing to worship idols. Their survival turned that king into a believer.
"They knew that if they put their trust in God everything would be OK," Karissa said.
Barbara Schmoe and Crawford came up with the idea of the "Trust Train. …