By RACHEL PARKER DICKERSON

LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER

AA small Hispanic fellowship, Iglesia Bautista Vida Nueva, reached out to the Spanish-speaking community this week by offering a vacation Bible school for children.

Yessica Arredondo, coordinator for the Bible school, said Monday brought about 40 children to the church, and the following days brought 25 to 30. Everything, from singing to Bible study to craft time, was presented in Spanish.

"What we're trying to do," Arredondo began, "When Hispanic people come here to the U.S., they think about making some good money for their family. When most of the people get here they think everything's going to be pretty good. A lot of people when they get here, they find themselves alone. Many people don't know there's a good Hispanic community. When they find themselves alone, they start doing things they're not supposed to be doing. When they find out we're here and we're a family, they change their minds and they come to Jesus."

Providing a vacation Bible school is one way to let the parents of the children know the church is a safe place for them, she said.

"We want to grow so all the Hispanic people know we are here," Arredondo said.

"I want all the English-speaking people to know we are working for the Lord, too," she added, saying sometimes she feels Hispanic people are cast in a bad light because of immigration controversies.

"This church is my family. We are not a lot of people ... 10, 15 families ... but we are a family," Arredondo said.

Leonel Alvarado, pastor of the church, said of the vacation Bible school, "For a first time, we're doing great. Yessica and the teachers are going great. They deserve all the credit."

He continued, "Our main goal is to reach the kids of the Hispanic community. Our main goal is to reach the whole family. They need some kind of help because of the language barrier, and I think the church is a great place."

He said he and the teachers have been surprised to find out that young children, 8 to 10 years old, know about drugs.

"They asked (Arredondo) and me if taking drugs is OK," he said. "They shocked me. I don't know where they learn it."

Arredondo said she believes church is the best place to teach children not to do drugs and not to make other bad choices.

Alvarado said, "We're trying to do the best we can for the community so they can have a better future."

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by e-mail at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1277. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)