TUTTLE, North Dakota —There is no school in Tuttle, North Dakota, but 66 kids, age two-sixth grade showed up for Vacation Bible School (VBS) at the United Methodist Church. “What better way to share the love of Jesus with these kids? Many do not get to go to church any other time,” said Susie Heidt, coordinator for VBS at Tuttle UMC and 2017 recipient of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award.
Photo: Kids fill up the church at VBS in Tuttle, ND. The effort is coordinated by Susie Heidt, recipient of the 2017 Harry Denman Award for Evangelism. Photo courtesy of Tuttle UMC.
Participants in VBS at Tuttle UMC come from all over. There are children of families that attend the church regularly, but then there are kids who come because they are connected through family, or through friends, or maybe even a friend of a friend. “We even had a family attend from Minnesota,” said Heidt.
45 – the number of years that Heidt has been involved in making ministry happen at Tuttle UMC. Most of those years have been about ministry with kids. “God gives us directions for our lives and we just have to listen,” she states. “If I couldn’t be with kids I wouldn’t be happy.”
Photo: Susie Heidt, receives the 2017 Harry Denman Award for Evangelism from Bishop Bruce R. Ough, at the 24th Session of the Dakotas Annual Conference in Bismarck. Photo by jlynn studios.
At VBS this summer, Heidt saw the second and third generation of children from families attending or volunteering. She notes that it takes about 20-25 volunteers to make it happen. Volunteers include adults and older students—seventh grade on up. “We had a wonderful volunteer staff throughout the week. I was able to work with many who once attended VBS. It is cool to be part of shaping their lives and now see how their kids’ lives are forming.”
Bobbie Stark is one of those volunteers. She does all of the decorating. The theme and curriculum this year was “Cave Quest”. The entire church was set up as a cave. “Bobbie is so amazing with the decorations. I couldn’t do it without the help of people like her. I couldn’t do it without God’s help,” said Heidt.
Not only does Heidt organize the VBS at Tuttle UMC, she also teaches the fifth and sixth grade students. She loves the questions that the students ask and helping them learn about Jesus and his love. “I’m encouraged by them. Being around them keeps me young,” Heidt noted. She leaves them with this instruction. “I would really like to see you open up your Bible and read a little every day.”
Photo: Entrance to "Cave Quest at Tuttle UMC VBS. Photo courtesy of Tuttle UMC.
The week culminated with a program where over 200 people attended. “Walking on water” was one of activities that kids really liked during the week. A children’s swimming pool is filled with just the right combination water and cornstarch. Kids can then walk across the pool, but they have to keep moving. If they don’t they will sink.
Heidt continues to reach the next person for Jesus. She started a Sunday School in Lincoln, ND—a small community on the southeast edge of Bismarck. “I have family there and they didn’t really have a church home,” Heidt said. “It started out with about 12-15 people and now more than 30 attend.”
Her dream is to keep doing all of this as long as possible, “I’ll keep doing it until I can’t anymore. I do it for the Lord. Thank God that I can.”