Several years ago, Becky Spell Vann made a promise to God — if he would allow her and all her Learning Station kids to return safely back to Sampson County from Washington, D.C, she would never take them out of the county again. Why should she? There is more than enough for Vann and the Sonshine Kids to minister about right here at home.
In 2009, Vann began traveling across Sampson County with the children of the Learning Station that she calls the Sonshine Kids. Their visits are called Sonshine visits. The kids are just a part of the ministry of Tim’s Gift.
“The Sonshine Kids pay special visits to minister to others and spread God’s word,” Vann said. “The children truly enjoy giving to others.”
The visits are often made to the nursing homes and homes of shut-ins, the elderly and the sick. Sometimes the kids bring gifts along, but they always have a prayer ready to be offered.
“We always share prayer with those we visit,” Vann said. “This has emerged into an amazing ministry.”
Along one of the walls inside the Learning Station the kids have constructed a prayer wall. Placed on the wall are sticky notes with names of those the children want to pray for. Once a prayer has been answered, the sticky note is moved to the other side of the wall, where a sign reads, “Answered Prayers.”
“Our children lead the prayers,” Vann said. “We can honestly say that in the three minutes we visit, people are hearing the word of God. Every Sonshine visit is a blessing for the children and those they visit.”
As part of the curriculum at the Learning Station, the kids hold two devotions everyday, they are learning the books of the Bible and there is a prayer room in the center of the building.
“The mornings are their special time,” Vann said. “They get their Bibles, read and study. They always end each visit with a prayer.”
Nine-year-old Samoya James says she loves praying for others.
“I like being able to pray to God to help other people and tell people that God loves them,” James shared.
For most of the Sonshine Kids, the reason for visiting others is the same — it’s a chance to share God’s love through prayer.
Katelyn O’Neal, who was once a Sonshine Kid herself, is now a teacher at the Learning Station. Even as a child, O’Neal said she loved being able to make visits and pray with others.
“I like being able to teach the kids academics, but being able to teach them about Jesus is amazing,” O’Neal said. “I’m glad that we are able to teach the kids about God and give them the opportunity to spread that love to others.”
Sister Kurstin and Kayleigh Rose both say it is nice to be able to offer someone a prayer and a song and cheer them up during difficult times.
“We get to pray with people when they are sick,” Kayleigh shared.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.