Giovanna, 6 years old, did not like fruits or vegetables when she arrived to attend the Christian Holiday School in Bahia, Brazil. She just wanted to eat sweets, pizza and other goodies. However, after a week of activities and experimentation in the kitchen and making snacks from healthy recipes that were tasted right there, she was impressed.
As she participated in a prayer of appeal and consecration for a healthier and better life, Giovanna was overcome with emotion and began to cry. “I wanted to like (fruits and vegetables) but it's hard to promise that to God; but Heavenly Dad can help me,” said the little girl.
Between June and July, the Christian Holiday Schools in Bahia and Sergipe sought to provide exactly this experience for children. They wanted to create awareness of a healthier eating style, creatively presenting what the Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches about the subject, based on the Bible, and lead them to develop recipes in practice. Wearing aprons and handling food, under the guidance of volunteers, the participants had access to a kind of knowledge that can make a difference from an early age, as Giovanna's example shows.
In central Bahia alone, about 500 children benefited from the program. Most were children of friends of the Adventist Church or people who were approached in the community. In some cities, there were parents who did not yet know the denomination and were suspicious of sending their children. But the content of the classes, and the children's enthusiasm to know more about health and food, impressed them.
In Araci, where 45 children participated, parents accompanied them to the closing ceremony and learned about the Church's work with the Adventurers Club . Right there they asked for their children to be enrolled. “The club will be an opportunity to win these families to Jesus. These mothers count on the Church as a support in the education of their children,” said Gilca Medeiros, director of the Children’s Ministry’s department for the central region of Bahia.
The impact of Christian Holiday Schools can also be seen in evangelism. In Sobradinho, also in Brazil, the initiative motivated the creation of a soccer school. Parents and children participated in sports and were impressed by the moments of reflection, bringing Christian values to the sport. Today the children are receiving Bible studies. “There are 20 young people who are having the privilege of deepening their knowledge of Jesus,” observed Medeiros.
In Ponto Novo, a town of about 17,000 people, the city's central Adventist church was home to the Christian Holiday School. There were 86 children involved in the activities and the experience was so exciting that parents also attended classes and created snacks with their children.
“Many parents reported how happy they were with what their children were learning and experiencing each day. The children developed an interest in eating fruits and vegetables they didn't want to taste before, they were asking to help in the kitchen, they came home telling the stories told by the teachers, and understood the importance of healthy eating,” explained Marciley Melros, leader of Children’s Ministry’s and Adolescents for the northern region of Bahia.
Melros told the story of 9-year-old Allana Evangelista. Allana's parents are getting to know the church and the mother struggles with a serious health problem. With classes on healthy eating habits, the girl was inspired to monitor the health of her mother more closely and to guide her father on foods harmful to the body.
“These are stories that show the importance of bringing this information to families, also highlighting the spiritual values that serve as the basis for caring for the health of the body. It is a joy to realize that children are awakening to this knowledge,” said Eliane Lopes, head of the Ministry of Children for Bahia and Sergipe.