Every year, hundreds of children attend Vacation Bible School (VBS) at local churches.

But few of them look like VBS at Church Under a Bridge.

"We want kids who don't normally get this to be able to experience it," Elizabeth Caulkins, church secretary, said. "The parents are excited to have something for (their children)."

The church, which meets under an overpass on Valentine Street in Tyler, has an average attendance of more than 100. Pastor Jabo Thomas estimated the regular attendees are about 70 percent homeless and low-income and 30 percent middle-income.

"We have people who don't feel comfortable in a traditional church, who are tired of church or who have had a bad experience, and people who have grown up in church and don't have a problem with it, but are just called here," he said.

This is the first VBS for the new church, which is only more than a year old.

Sunshine Kirk is one of the parents whose family have been members for about a year.

Her children are 4, 7, 12 and 14. She attended VBS with her children this week, making crafts and singing songs.

"(Church Under a Bridge) is a miracle," she said. "My family passed away, so this is my family now."

About a dozen children attended the weekly morning program this week, also held under the bridge where the church meets on Sunday.

"The kids love it. It's like a natural sandbox. I think kids naturally want to be outside," Ms. Caulkins said.

While Church Under a Bridge does provide tangible gifts such as food and clothing for its members, the big thing it offers is something intangible, Thomas said.

"For a lot of people, we are someone who doesn't just throw money or clothes at them, but stays and loves them and shares Christ with them," he said. "If nothing else, it gives them hope."

 

 

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