In 1990, University City United Methodist Church’s Vacation Bible School kicked off in the summer. Paula Brake and Chris Parsons were in charge of a new aspect of VBS for youth, puppetry. After a successful VBS interest was shown and they decided to continue the puppets. What evolved 20 years later could never have been imagined.
In the early years of HIS Hands Puppet Ministry, puppeteers pinned scripts to the stage curtains and practiced their lines. Then they evolved to sing-a-long with songs and that became a hit. The youth choir was starting to tour and for one summer the youth (7th-12th grade) in HIS Hands went along. Then during the summer of 1995 they ventured off by themselves.
Since then they have gone to 3 countries (England, Wales, and Canada) and have been all over the US. They have performed for day care centers, nursing homes, juvenile detention centers and out in front of the public on the rim of the Grand Canyon. They performed on City Walk at Universal Studios, St. Jude Hospital, and other places they didn’t usually let Christian groups perform.
Chris and Johnnie Parsons, my parents, have been involved for many years and now they are retiring after this last mission trip to New York City. For 20 years they gave of their time, energy, sleepless nights, and countless “coming to Jesus meetings” with the youth. Jodie, my little sister, graduated in 2001 but my parents kept their service and dedication going.
What amazes me (a former puppeteer) is not how far they have come in their puppetry, now they do black light stuff with is awesome, but the stories that have come out of this ministry. A surprise retirement party was thrown for them this past Sunday, after their 15th Puppethon (a fundraiser performance for their mission trip). I got to witness my mom break down with the surprise, no surprise there. But I also got to see my dad tear up about how they touched a life of a kid in a wheel chair at St. Jude Hospital or how they watched an elderly woman get out of a wheel chair and try and cuss out a puppet during another performance.
This ministry will continue as the leadership is being passed down but it is amazing to look back at what was accomplished after that VBS in 1990. The lives that have been touched by youth and lead by laity. This ministry is not minister driven but laity driven Much fruit has been harvested because of the dedication of leaders and youth throughout the years.
HIS Hands, keep up the good work and reach people for God for the next 20 years. Thanks Mom and Dad for being examples for other adults to follow and an inspiration in the lives of the youth and audiences you have touched. Love ya and remember you can’t retire from Jesus so be open for what God has in store for you next!