Adult teacher/helpers rocked the Free Christian Church of God, dancing to “Sinbusters” during Vacation Bible School last week. 296 children attended, while 157 adult volunteers assisted with the program. Free Christian Church of God is located in rural Continental. (Putnam Sentinel/Becky Leader)
Adult teacher/helpers rocked the Free Christian Church of God, dancing to “Sinbusters” during Vacation Bible School last week. 296 children attended, while 157 adult volunteers assisted with the program. Free Christian Church of God is located in rural Continental. (Putnam Sentinel/Becky Leader)

CONTINENTAL — When sin and temptation are at your door, who’re you gonna call? Sinbusters!

“Sinbusters — the Call to Duty” was the theme of Vacation Bible School at Free Christian Church of God, located at 20799 Ohio 15, Continental. It is based on the popular movie, “Ghostbusters.” 296 children, ages four to 17, attended the week long event every evening, Aug. 4-8, from 6 to 8:45 p.m. For the first time, there was also an adult class, because many of the children who aged out of Bible school wanted to still be included in the program. Children came from Continental, Ayersville, Leipsic, McComb, Ottawa, Paulding, and Van Wert. A church bus even traveled to a Defiance apartment complex to transport children to the Bible school.

Senior Pastor James Fry, who founded the church in 1986, was never impressed with the pre-packaged Bible school curriculums. He always added and enhanced the lessons.

Twenty years ago, while on a trip to Universal Studios, Pastor Jim went into the “Ghostbusters” attraction.

“Watching that program — something just hit me that Sinbusters would be a good idea,” he described. I thought I would just put a Bible school together.”

That year, Pastor Jim got flight suits, crafted Bible Proton Packs, and rounded up smoke machines and flashing lights to imitate the popular movie and its characters. He put different words to the tune of “Ghostbusters”.

“Parents’ chins hit the floor,” he grinned. “It was the strangest vacation Bible school they ever saw.”

Fry explained the church did not have many members back then or much space. They discovered by rotating the children through different stations, such as music, activities, lessons, and drama, they could minister to the children with fewer helpers. “We didn’t think the kids like teachers standing in front, giving a lecture,” Fry stated.

He came to the realization he would never purchase a pre-packaged Bible school curriculum again. Fry began writing comedy-drama lessons, where adults would dress in costume to act out the intended message. The stage was completed with backdrops and props.

And the children loved it. “The kids would laugh!” Fry enthused. “They didn’t understand that was the lesson.” Fry has written such curriculums as “Independent Jones and the Search for Eternal Life,” “The Grouch Who Stole Christianity,” “101 Salvations,” and “Monsters Incapacitated.” Pastor Jim comes up with the main ideas for the curriculums. “The people who work on this have been with me long enough and can get in my head. Then it all comes together, hopefully like it was in my head. When the kids walk into the sanctuary, I want them to say, ‘Wow!’” Fry declared.

The Bible school uses every available space in the church. Children are divided by age into classrooms. The adult teachers/helpers decorate their own classrooms uniquely, some even coming in the week before the event to prepare. This year, some of the rooms were adorned with a giant marshmallow man made of balloons or green slime or silhouettes of a city. All of them had Bible verses pertaining to the lessons. The lessons are developed to three different levels of understanding, according to the children’s abilities.

Fry admitted he would not be able to pull off the Bible school without the 157 adults who helped each evening. Volunteers gave of their time and talents through technology, costuming, teaching, organizing, and snack preparation.

Fry believes that children are the church’s greatest asset, and treats them as such.

“We give away hundreds of pounds of candy, t-shirts, and big snacks,” he divulged. “We spend around $4,000 on Bible school. I believe we are having an influence on other church’s Bible schools.”

Pastor Jim is willing to lend his curriculums to other churches free of charge. His brother, Robert, is a pastor in Toledo. Through utilizing Pastor Jim’s VBS curriculums, Robert increased his attendance four times over in two years. Although there has been a different theme for Bible school every year for the past 20 years, “Sinbusters” was a repeat of the first year’s curriculum, albeit an improved version. The church is building an addition that will include a new, larger sanctuary.

“This is the last year to do VBS in this sanctuary,” Fry concluded. “We thought it was appropriate to do “Sinbusters” again.”