by Miranda Laughlin, Director of Summer OFF
“I know why we can trust God… because He is the King of everything!” This was a response of one of the children who attended Summer OFF this past summer during the last week of the program. That statement alone made every moment of time, prayer and preparation that had gone into the programs of Summer OFF 2017 feel so rewarding. Summer OFF, which is essentially a VBS on wheels, is an opportunity for children and youth, in mostly unchurched neighborhoods, to engage in a day camp like setting of crafts, games, activities, Bible teaching and just getting to know one another. Summer OFF ran for six weeks in three different parks in and around Providence, with eleven different churches partnering.
Our biggest goal was to provide children in the parks with an engaging setting where they would be taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ through large group Bible teaching times and one-on-one intentional conversations. This summer, Bible teaching times were focused around big ideas of Christianity and the most resonating of these big ideas seemed to be that “God is King of everything.” As a staff we learned a lot about the most effective ways to communicate the Gospel and biblical principles to large groups in the park, and we had a lot of fun along the way!
Some highlights of the summer included the wonderful partnering church teams who came in to help run Summer OFF. The Lord appointed each person who came to serve with Summer OFF in such a beautiful way. One example of this was with a church team that came in from Norfolk, MA. Throughout the summer, an older gentleman who spoke only Mandarin Chinese spent a lot of time in one of the parks. Many of the Summer OFF workers attempted conversations with him, with some success. But the last week of Summer OFF, one of the team from Norfolk just happened to be fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and was able to engage him in several longer conversations and even talk about Christianity and the Bible. Praise God!
We also had a wonderful group of interns this summer, who did an awesome job of engaging children in the parks and assisting in running everything from skits to crafts. And of course, the children in the parks LOVED THEM. The interns were so intentional about learning children’s names, getting to know about their lives, and forming meaningful relationships. We are so grateful for the Philip Center interns!
Plans for Summer 2018 are already in the works! Here are things to be praying for throughout the year:
- Pray for a strong team of interns to come alongside the Philip Center in 2018
- Pray for planning and curriculum writing over the next 6 months to maximize use of time and engagement of children with Bible teaching in the parks
- Pray for continued favor with the City of Providence and the expansion of Summer OFF to more parks in churchless neighborhoods.
- Pray for church partners who are enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel to come alongside Summer OFF 2018
Thank you all for your support and encouragement of this very important ministry!