Typically associated with medieval sieges and ancient warfare, the catapult has had a modern resurgence as a ministry and evangelism tool at Brunswick’s College Place United Methodist Church.
Instead of being used to “shoot arrows and hurl large stones” as in biblical times (2 Chron. 26:15), on Wednesday, September 8, College Place UMC’s catapult was unveiled and used to hurl water balloons across the church’s parking lot.
With a sin or stronghold written on them, the water balloons were launched into the air, symbolizing the letting go or release of the sin. Children, teens and adults gathered and drivers on nearby Altama Avenue slowed to watch the catapult launch the balloons.
Built by the church’s youth and a few adult volunteers, the catapult was the brainchild of College Place UMC member and carpenter Arthur Sanders. A volunteer youth worker, Sanders said that he got the idea for building a catapult from a Discovery Channel show.
“They built a large one (on the show) and it’s been something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said.
When the opportunity to help the youth work on a woodworking project became available, Sanders jumped at the chance to teach them to build a catapult.
“It was a lot better than building a desk or park bench. We wouldn’t have had nearly this many kids out here for the unveiling of a park bench,” he said, looking at the crowd.
The idea for the guys of the youth group to begin a woodworking project was initially born out of a desire to compete with the girls of the youth group. About 15 girls had begun a Bible study, and the young men didn’t want to be outdone, so they started their own group.
Begun at the beginning of June after school let out for the summer, the catapult project took about three months to complete. Working on Wednesday nights in a church member’s garage, the project helped the youth learn about responsibility and team work. It also helped span the age gap that is prevalent in many churches.
“This helped break down walls between ministries,” said Eric Stewart, College Place UMC’s director of student ministries. “It was no longer just youth and just adults; this connected them. They got to meet and work with people they didn’t know, and it helped connect different generations.”
Except for cutting a few boards, the students did all of the work themselves. Help, direction and guidance was given by Sanders and the other adult volunteers, but the bulk of the work was done by students.
“I think they all enjoyed it quite a bit,” Sanders said. “We were adamant that they were going to build it. The more they started to put pieces together the more interested and excited they seemed to get.”
Ryan Leotis, a 16-year-old member of College Place UMC and junior at Brunswick’s Glynn Academy, was a part of the group that built the catapult.
Deciding to get involved because he thought it would be a fun time to hang out with friends while learning about God, Leotis said that he learned about teamwork, dedication and the body of Christ.
“One of our leaders said that all the pieces on the catapult work together to do a common job, and that’s what we should do with our faith.”
Sanders, who created the catapult plans after hours of research, hopes that it will be used for outreach and other events in the future. More woodworking projects with the youth are likely, he said, and some girls in the youth group have indicated interest.
“We’ll probably have to do some serious projects, but I’d like to keep doing fun stuff like this,” he said. “A lot of kids think church is a boring place that they don’t want to have anything to do with, but we do a lot of neat things and have a lot of fun, and I hope this will spark some more interest in their peers and draw some people in.
“I enjoyed it because I was getting to help them with something they seemed to enjoy and get excited about. The Lord works in mysterious ways, and I think everybody who’s worked on this has been blessed by it.”
--By Kara Witherow, South Georgia Advocate editor
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