BY AEDA CHUNG
Life is full of surprises, good and bad. We love happy surprises such as a birthday party, a year-end bonus, or an unexpected call or visit from an old friend. But how do you handle devastating surprises in life?
Some say it depends on your genetic make-up, the environment you were brought up in, or both. Maybe you are genetically predisposed to depression and anxiety. Maybe you drink as a coping mechanism to forget about your problems and drown your sorrows.
Or maybe you turn to the word of God in search of comfort and guidance. But how would you know to do that, if you were never exposed to the gospel in the first place?
Do you remember the very first time you went to church? If you first attended service as an infant, you would most likely not remember it at all. But Sunday after Sunday — although all you might have done was to sit and play with your toys — you grew up listening to the sermon with your parents or learning stories from the Bible at Sunday school. So when you later encountered difficult times in your life, a “random” verse might have come to mind: “Be strong for I am with you.”
The Fruitful Vineyard Ministry (FVM) is “a crucial ministry because it is our FIRST open door for our next, rising generation,” says Pastor John Cha. He fondly recalls the FVM’s SKY Vacation Bible School, where the church sanctuary, hallways, and rooms were transformed into cloud-filled, blue skies. The FVM kids were “filled with joy and wonder […] singing, ‘I’ve got to think, think, think, think about the goodness of you, my God. Because I know, know, know, no matter how I feel, I’ve got to trust in You.’”
Pastor Tae, who served as the Pastor of Preschool Ministries from 2010 through summer of 2013, remembers how the 4-year old FVM students shouted “infinity” to the question how many candles should Jesus’ birthday cake have, because “Jesus has been alive since the very beginning.”
As is the case with many worthy things in life, managing FVM is not without challenges. Teachers and volunteers often miss corporate worship with other adults and may need to find ways to stay connected. Also, adds Pastor Tae, being a part of the Christian Education Department, which serves both KC and EC, it becomes important to understand cultural differences to ensure effective interdependency and collaboration. In addition, Pastor Tae emphasizes the need for integrated efforts to minister not only to the FVM children, but to their parents and teachers to make a greater impact on each child’s life.
This integrated approach is one of the key guiding principles for the new FVM Director, Jeanie Chang, who would like to encourage the FVM parents to actively ask questions about the Bible story that is discussed each Sunday and go over memory verses at home with their children.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
When asked what one word could sum up FVM, the responses I received from interviewees were “seeds” and “fruitful.” When you sow a seed, you don’t know how the seed will turn out. But, you water it and care for it, and with much love and care, the seed will grow up to bear much fruit. That is our prayer for our children in God’s word through FVM.