The Tower of Babel, Solomon’s Temple, and the Taj Mahal

New Vacation Bible Experience program draws spiritual lessons from famous structures.

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division
The Tower of Babel, Solomon’s Temple, and the Taj Mahal
Inter-American Division children and adolescents ministries director Edith Ruiz (center) leads a segment during the launch of this year’s new Vacation Bible Experience program. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

The Inter-American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (IAD) unveiled its newest Vacation Bible Experience (VBE) program during a recent online workshop session. The one-hour event provided orientation to teachers, directors, Vacation Bible Experience leaders, and volunteers who take part in witnessing to more than 300,000 children and adolescents across churches and communities every year in the division territory.

VBE is an annual church initiative that seeks to affirm Bible principles and values for children and adolescents in the church and surrounding community. This year’s VBE, themed “Wonderful Works,” will highlight significant architectural works in the Bible and in the world today and point to valuable lessons for youngsters and teens.

“We are going to embark on a journey as we explore some of the impressive works made and how they were used by God and the vital and eternal lessons we can draw from them,” Edith Ruiz Espinoza, children and adolescents ministries for the IAD, said. “Our goal is to reach the thousands of dedicated leaders so they can grasp the concepts, lessons, ideas, and guide their teachers and staff that arduously work to touch the lives of so many children and adolescents with the love of God and His wondrous works.”

World-famous Structures

The structures to be studied in the VBE comprehensive program include the Tower of Babel, Noah’s ark, Solomon’s temple, Joseph’s storehouses, and the New Jerusalem, as well as the Burj Khalifa tower, the Titanic, and the Taj Mahal, among others. The program resources includes theme shirts, pencil packs, a special patch and pin, an instructor’s manual, and other items, Ruiz said.

The workshop is only a sample so that VBE leaders can have a clear idea of what can be done and expanded on this year’s theme, Ruiz explained. Among the values in the VBE program are trust, worship, salvation, discipline, and joy, she said.

The launch workshop showcased songs, stories, craft ideas, tools, recipes, animated segments, games, activity tips, and resources that will affirm God’s care and love for His children.

A Blessing in Summer

The online workshop, produced at the IAD headquarters in Miami, Florida, United States, was attended by 31 children and adolescents ministries directors from several unions and conferences in the territory. The launch event provided an opportunity for leaders to see the VBE program firsthand and inspire creative ideas they can implement back home as they train local church children and adolescents ministries leaders and volunteers.

Norma Villegas, children and adolescents ministries director in the Chiapas Mexican Union, brought all eight conference directors from her union territory to plan the VBE workshops they will teach as they journey through their respective regional territories next month.

“This year’s VBE theme is beautiful and will for sure reaffirm children who attend the summer program, that they are the most wonderful work God created,” Villegas said. “There are so many children who have broken homes and are going through difficult experiences, and yet they are ready to learn and be blessed.”

Nine-year-old Eliu from Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico, was living with his grandmother. His mother abandoned him as a baby, his father was killed, and after his grandmother died during the pandemic, his alcoholic grandfather took him in but died soon after. “At first his aunt who adopted Eliu didn’t want him to attend a VBE program in their community, but after he attended, he was so pleased and is now attending Sabbath School every week,” Villegas said.

Last year, more than 79,000 children took part in the annual initiative, which included more than 29,600 who are not Seventh-day Adventists, Villegas added.

“We are very excited because this year we are planning to reach more communities that have no Adventist presence and reach children through this VBE program and be able to organize a missionary club, so that more and more children and their families can learn about Jesus and His love,” Villegas said.

VBE brings a lot of joy and hope to thousands of children throughout the IAD territory, Ruiz said. It’s an annual initiative that leads hundreds of children and their parents to join the church.

“We want this workshop to remind our leaders and volunteers in this beautiful endeavor to use their talents, gifts, and all their energy and strength for this special VBE program,” Ruiz said. “Remember that whatever you instill in each child, he or she will take it home and share everything they have learned with their family, friends, and neighbors.”

VBE is about bringing children to Christ and training them for the kingdom of heaven, Ruiz said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division