Though students are out on spring break, the campus of Los Angeles High School has been anything but quiet. Noises of children shouting and singing worship songs filled the LA High campus this week, as some 380 children participated in New Life Vision Church (NLVC)’s sixth annual Celebration for Easter at the school, where NLVC also holds its Sunday services.
Celebration for Easter, or CE as they call it, is NLVC’s annual outreach event for the children, and is basically the church’s Vacation Bible School (VBS) but held in the springtime near Easter. Not only is it a way for the children to celebrate Easter, explained Pastor Jeehae Yang of the children’s ministry at NLVC, but it’s also a way through which the church hopes to plant in the children an urgency to share the gospel to their friends from a young age. Starting four to five weeks before CE, children at NLVC are encouraged by the children’s ministry staff to think of friends at other churches and particularly friends who have never gone to church before. Together, the staff help the children to pray for those friends and think of ways they can invite them to CE.
“Ever since Pastor Sharon Suk started the CE program, she had this desire to plant a passion for the gospel in the children from a young age,” Yang said. Suk is the director of NLVC’s children’s ministry.
This year’s CE, which was titled ‘Altitude’ and used hiking themes to convey gospel-related messages, focused on three lessons over the course of three evenings. The first night was centered on the lesson, “I need Jesus,” and included a gospel presentation during the worship service. The second day was focused on the lesson, “As a follower of Christ, I will stand up for what is right,” while the third day was focused on the lesson, “As a follower of Christ, I will do what is right no matter what.”
All of these lessons were conveyed through two main parts: a main worship service with music and dancing, a sermon, and prayer time; and then a rotation of three different activities including games, Bible stories / study, and arts and crafts.
A separate room was made available for parents and their infants or toddlers, where the families participated in activities together to impart these lessons unto their smaller children. And another room was prepared and filled with members of the church who came by to pray and intercede for the children during CE.
“As the most amount of children tend to show up on the first day, we wanted to share the gospel on the first day so that as many children as possible can hear it,” Yang explained of the lessons throughout the event. “Then, after they have heard the gospel and hopefully committed to accept and follow Jesus, we wanted to help them discern what is right and wrong from a young age, and to be able to live that out as they grow older. As they become teenagers and college students, it’ll become harder to stand up for their faith. But our hope is that even when it is hard, even when their peers may mock them for what they believe, that they would choose to defend their faith until the end.”
After the gospel presentation during the first night, the children were invited to raise their hands during the first night if they have never accepted Jesus before and would like to after having heard the good news. Those who raised their hands were noted by the small group leaders, who provided additional care throughout the course of CE and answer any questions the children may have. The small group leaders would also let the other staff know of who raised their hands. If the children who raised their hands did not already go to another church, and CE was his or her first time at a church event (information which was noted in each child’s CE application form), the NLVC staff would contact the child after CE was finished to invite him or her to church. Many of the children who currently attend NLVC were connected through CE, Yang said.
“Those children’s names are kept in mind by the staff, and we pray expectantly for each child, and we follow up with them and contact them,” she shared.
Meanwhile, NLVC has another outreach event for children in the fall called ‘Buddy Party,’ which is a one-day event that takes place on a Saturday. The church also has a mission trip opportunity for children each summer. On average, some 30 children participate each year, and they have traveled to places such as Mexico, South Korea, and Arizona.