ICF Padova: Changing Italy One Child At A Time
And How You Can Help By Bringing a Team or Volunteering Your Summer
The FEIC network offers member churches a number of helpful benefits – not the least of which is sharing successful ministry ideas. What follows is an interview between FEIC communications writer Jeff Slaughter and Patti Gray of ICF Padova about a successful summer outreach program.
Jeff: Tell me how the idea for this extended VBS originated.
Patti: In Rome I had a Christian school which was a lot of work. Many parents kept asking me to start a school in Padova. Instead, God gave me the idea of a summer school to teach English. Chad Phillips brought a team of MK’s the first summer we started the school who did a three-day VBS during the last week of our three-week English summer school. Then the next year we did five weeks with a VBS format every morning with only four interns.. The following years we did 7 weeks including a couple of church teams and 4-6 MAPS interns.
Jeff: How long is the program?
Patti: The school is seven weeks long. The teachers usually come for 8-12 weeks to help prepare. The school is hour 8 hours long and teachers are here for nine hours starting in the morning with prayer and ending the day by strategizing for the next day.
Jeff: What ages are involved?
Patti: Teachers needs to be at least 18 years of age and the children range in age from 5-14.
Jeff: What do teams do and where do they come from?
Patti: The teams this year are coming from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Texas and Germany. They prepare and bring all the supplies for a one-week VBS, leading the VBS activities (crafts, Bible, games, snack, opening and closing) and conducting assemblies each morning. They arrive on a Saturday, attend church on Sunday, set up for VBS and do a quick tour of Padova and then Monday-Friday work the VBS/Summer school.
In the afternoon, they are teacher’s aids in the English part of the school.
After the VBS, they take a day off to visit Venice. They stay at our town’s youth hostel (18 euro per night), and can cook their meals at our church or eat out in restaurants. They make cold lunches and eat with the students each day.
Food costs 15-25 euro per day per person depending on whether or not the team eats in or out.
Jeff: What is the role of the volunteer ladies?
My MAPS teachers/interns arrive on week to one month before the VBS starts to help with preparations and to be trained. They will be in chare of a group of kids each morning while the team presents the VBS. In the afternoon they will be teaching a group of kids to read, write or act in English. The weeks that we do not have a team do the VBS, the interns/teachers will prepare and present the VBS.
Jeff: Where do the kids come and what are their backgrounds?
Patti: The children come from immigrant families. Most were born in Italy. Parents are from Albania, America, Australia, Cameroon, China, Congo, Italy, Nigeria, Philippines, Romania, Ukraine and other places. We have space to teach 100 children and most of the children attend for all seven weeks.
Jeff: What kind of impact has the VBS made over the years?
Patti: We have seen hundreds of children ask Jesus in their hearts. We have seen behavioral changes from year to year. We have seen Catholic, Orthodox, Hindu and Buddhist children learn to read the Bible and memorize Bible verses. Also – your heart breaks when you see these kids dance before the Lord as they worship. Also, the kids love to help with street evangelism.
Jeff: Do you still need teams?
Patti: Yes, we still have one or two weeks open. Volunter ladies? Yes, a few are considering coming but I only have one teacher who is able to be with us the entire seven weeks. I need at least one or two more who could arrive no later than June 6 and leave by August 3.
Jeff: Can you think of anything to add to help communicate the intent and
purpose of the camp?
Patti: The purpose is to teach this generation of Italians how to know the Lord, grow in the Lord, follow the Lord as well as learn to read English. We are changing the future of Italy one child at a time.
For more information about ICF Padova’s Summer VBS program or to find out how you can be involved by bringing a team or by volunteering, write Steve and Patti Gray at: [email protected]