Summer outreach lives on in Glendale

Valley of the Sun Korean Corps welcomes kids from all nationalities at vacation Bible school

By Karen Gleason –

Captains Kihyun and Aeran Oh, leaders of the Valley of the Sun Corps in Glendale, Arizona, didn’t think the corps could offer a summer day camp in 2017. This was unfortunate for the whole community, since the corps’ outreach extends to all nationalities, not just to the Korean population.

Originally, back in 2014, the camp lasted all summer thanks to grants and other outside help, but as funds dried up over the years, the camp lasted only two weeks. Finally, all the funds were gone.

“This year, we do not have enough funds,” Aeran Oh told Charles and Glorie Kartler, whose grandchildren had attended the camp the past two years and looked forward to returning this summer.

The Kartlers wanted to support the corps and its ministry to children.

“VBS [vacation Bible school] is the highlight of my grandkids’ summer,” Glorie Kartler said. “Captains Oh and staff are dedicated to the children and families in the community, showing the love of God.”

In April, the Kartlers donated $3,000 to keep the program alive. In May, the corps received an additional $1,000, part of a grant that Canyon Institute gave The Salvation Army Southwest Division to support the Army’s Christian outreach programs.

The donations allowed the corps to put the summer day camp/VBS program back on its schedule. This year, the corps provided tutoring in English and math, along with devotion in motion, crafts, Bible stories and a trip to the indoor water park at the Phoenix Salvation Army Kroc Center.

About 40 children, representing the community’s multicultural makeup, attended camp. Both the participants and volunteers are a testament to the corps’ multicultural outreach.  

UPS driver Jeff Gerhart has volunteered for the summer program for the past three years.

“This has been a very encouraging and rewarding experience, to see many of the same children over these past three years, and to see how God’s love and grace is developing in their lives,” Gerhart said.

Some of the children have started coming to the corps regularly. According to Gerhart, who also teaches Sunday school at the corps, about seven VBS attendees regularly attend Sunday services there.

“The Salvation Army is truly a God-centered organization with which I am proud to be associated,” he said.

The kids said they enjoyed themselves.

“I had a good time,” said 13-year-old Carlos. “I actually felt the Holy Spirit…it was easier to learn about God.”

Juan, 14, shared his practical viewpoint.

“Vacation Bible School was fun,” he said. “I hope the corps keeps doing the VBS, because otherwise most kids would be inside playing video games all day, and that’s not really healthy.”

An altar call took place the last day of VBS. Michelle Oh, VBS teacher, recalls what happened.

“Thirty children stood up to accept Jesus,” she said. “Many of them cried and also asked for prayer for their families. It was very powerful and led by the Holy Spirit.”

The Kartlers were present at the altar call.

“What a privilege to be a part of lives changed,” Glorie Kartler said. Mark 10:14 says: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.’ We love and appreciate all The Salvation Army and staff for their light in the world.”

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