Spiritual pillar strengthened at VBS

Michael Afan, Vacation Bible School volunteer, tries to “catch” children during a game of sharks and minnows June 4 in front of the Luke Air Force Base chapel.

Michael Afan, Vacation Bible School volunteer, tries to “catch” children during a game of sharks and minnows June 4 in front of the Luke Air Force Base chapel.

Prekindergarten and kindergarten children compete June 4 in a game of red light, green light at the Luke Air Force Base Chapel Vacation Bible School. VBS was June 1 through 5 at the chapel.

Prekindergarten and kindergarten children compete June 4 in a game of red light, green light at the Luke Air Force Base Chapel Vacation Bible School. VBS was June 1 through 5 at the chapel.

FROM LEFT: Sophi Bergay, Kiara Beedle, Alyssia Lopez Souza and Courtney Barns rehearse a scene June 4 at the Luke Air Force Base chapel. The act and other performances were part of the closing night ceremonies for the parents.

FROM LEFT: Sophi Bergay, Kiara Beedle, Alyssia Lopez Souza and Courtney Barns rehearse a scene June 4 at the Luke Air Force Base chapel. The act and other performances were part of the closing night ceremonies for the parents.

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, ARIZONA -- A slew of volunteers, including eight active-duty members, helped make the Luke Air Force Base Chapel's Vacation Bible School program a success June 1 through 5.

More than 130 children participated in the event, which aimed to help them grow in their faith.

"Our mission was to develop the spiritual pillar of the Comprehensive Airman Fitness concept," said Chaplain (Maj.) David Barns, 56th Fighter Wing Chapel deputy wing chaplain. "VBS was open to any child who wanted to attend, but because the program is funded through the chapel tithes and offerings of our Catholic and Protestant parishes, it was Christian-focused, remaining true to their faith tradition."

This year's VBS theme was "Hometown Nazareth: Where Jesus was a Kid," according to Loida Lagang, 56th FW Chapel religious education coordinator.

"The chapel was decorated to look like Nazareth," Barns said. "Each station the children visited throughout the evening was to help them learn more about Jesus as they took a journey through Nazareth."

Mary's (Jesus' mother) house was one of the stations where children heard stories from Jesus' childhood.

"They also went to the marketplace to experience some crafts from Jesus' time, enjoyed meals in the food market and learned games that Jesus probably played as a child," Lagang said.

Barns said it was inspiring to see the group of volunteers who put this week-long event together.

"We have, on average, 150 children annually who attend VBS," he said. "Obviously, the logistics of planning an event like this is challenging. But our volunteers have it down to a science."

The goal of VBS is to teach children about the importance of their faith and how it can help them navigate life while having a positive church experience, Barns said.

"While this program was designed to align with the Christian faith group, the opportunity for other faith groups to have similar programs exists," he said. "We want to accommodate the spiritual needs of all our Airmen," Barns said.

Vacation Bible School not only helped children learn about their faith, it also had a positive impact on the mission, Barns said.

"The more programs we can provide for the entire family to grow spiritually, the more productive, emotionally stable and content Airmen and families we will produce," he said. "If things are going well with family life, our Airmen will be better able to focus on the mission and not be distracted by problems at home. If one is healthy spiritually, it will have a positive impact on the other areas of human wellness -- physical, social and emotional."