About 20 children at a time, along with their Vacation Bible School teachers, crowded outside the door awaiting the big attraction at the Old Brazil Junior High School Tuesday. In the next room laid a 25-foot plastic replica of the whale that swallowed Jonah, according to the popular Bible story where the moral is to obey God.
Once inside the dark "belly," the audience shrieked at the sound effects of the whale's heart beating and stomach grumbling. They yelled "Wrong way Jonah!" a few times, trying to warn the prophet to stay on the right path before getting swallowed.
Storyteller Jim Evans said the story and the "fish" were both hits with the grade school children. The gym and craft rooms were decorated with hundreds of fish to go along with the theme for Christ Community Church's VBS this year: Super Cool Undersea Bible Adventure, or SCUBA.
"Today's lessons are all about Jonah," said Susan Cole, a crew leader for ages 5-9. She was with her group outside playing games where the children put a sheet over top each other to represent the whale and got to squirt water at each other.
Childrens' Pastor Cheryl Rissler has been impressed with the turnout of more than a hundred children at the community center per day at the VBS.
"I don't think we could've reached as many if we didn't have it here," she said. "The whole purpose was to reach the community." Pastor Tim Russell agrees. "A lot of neighborhood kids are walking around, wondering what's going on here and join in, so it's a good turnout," he said.