Los Olivos Spanish church in Van Nuys and Shalom Spanish company in Northridge, two district churches led by Rolando Rivera, collaborated for a joint Vacation Bible School (VBS) program this summer that resulted in eight children making decisions for baptism.
This unique collaboration required a dedicated team of volunteers from both churches. It had been several years since Los Olivos had a VBS, and Shalom never has.
Rivera and his wife, Yahaira Batista, who together spearheaded this initiative, anticipated that committed volunteers would be difficult to find. However, they were excited and encouraged to see so many people willing not only to help but also to work together. “God did a miracle,” Rivera reflected. “We had about 30 volunteers from both churches.”
To prepare, one representative from both Los Olivos and Shalom attended the VBS training hosted by Southern California Conference Children’s Ministries earlier this year. They chose the theme “Jasper Canyon: Where Every Kid is Treasured by God.”
Rivera, who is an experienced evangelist, also wanted to shape the VBS program as a children’s ministry evangelism effort. Before VBS began, parents were given take-home booklets for Bible studies with their children. “My hope was that if they prepared the kids before,” said Rivera, “they’d have a better understanding to make the decision to give their lives to Jesus.”
With this evangelistic framework, the VBS program was hosted at Los Olivos church in late June from Sunday to Thursday and concluded on Friday with baptisms. After the program ended, more children expressed interest in baptism. “It’s all by God’s grace,” said Rivera. “Our main goal is for people to have a relationship with Christ. The rest will come after that.”
This joint VBS program has opened the door for both churches to work together in the future, such as the upcoming week of evangelism planned for October. Then those children who want to get baptized will have another opportunity to do so. “Unless they ask to get baptized before,” Rivera said. “I’m willing to get in the water every day if they’re ready now.”