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Day Three

Deborah: the Heroic Judge

This is the page for Day Three. On this page you can find background for Deborah as well as an explanation of the key beatitude. In addition, you can find the story/service, art, science, and games guides with demonstration videos as well as the music guide and whodunnit episode. Those guides are also available on the home page along with the overview.  

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."

Matthew 5:5 

Click or tap on these icons to take you to the right guide.  You can also find the supply list here:









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A note to Families: activities during VBS at church may only take about 20 minutes but that's made possible by lots of prep work.  Preparing for and completing an art, science, or service project might take all day.  That's okay!  Take as much time as you need to explore the mystery museum.  

Day Three

Deborah: the Heroic Hero

Background on Deborah:                                 Judges 4 - Judges 5

 Adult and youth leaders should familiarize themselves with Deborah's story and its context.

     During the 1100s BCE Deborah served as the fourth judge of Israel after the exodus from Egypt but before the monarchy was established at Jerusalem. In that time the judges served variously as prophets, warriors, informal leaders, and as literal judges. Deborah fulfilled all of these roles. 

     We enter Deborah’s story by learning that she dispensed judgment about the people’s problems from beneath a palm tree between Benjamin and Bethel. The king of Canaan, Jabin, had conquered the people of Israel and ruled over them for twenty years.  Deborah was called by God to end that oppression. 

     She ordered a commander named Barak to summon an army to overthrow Jabin. He agreed on one condition, that she march at the head of the army along with him. She agreed on one condition, that it be made known that with God's guidance a woman was responsible for the coming victory and not a man. From among the twelve tribes of Israel, Naphtali and Zebulun answered the call and gathered their people for war on Mount Tabor. 

     Jabin’s commander, the fearsome Sisera, summoned a formidable army including 900 chariots of iron to put down the rebellious forces at Mount Tabor. In that time, 900 chariots might have been seen as an invincible force. What followed was a stunning victory for the Israelites as their force of peasants overwhelmed an army of well-trained and well-equipped soldiers. The Biblical account even suggests that God intervened with torrents of rain to disable the enemy chariots. 

     Sisera fled on foot as he was pursued by the Israelites and took refuge in another oppressed land nearby. A woman there named Jael took in Sisera and when his guard was dropped, assassinated him with a tent spike. With that, the cruel rein of Jabin through the iron fist of Sisera was effectively ended by a woman, as Deborah prophesied. Jael showed Barak what she had done and with the threat of Sisera ended, Barak and Deborah were able to easily subdue and overthrow Jabin and liberate Israel. Together they sang Deborah’s song about the victory, which became an anthem of hope for Israel. 

Key Beatitude Explained:                         

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." (Matthew 5:5 NRSV)

If you're looking for superman in the Bible, you just found her. Clark Kent is the mild mannered reporter / superhuman hero. Deborah is the mild-mannered musician / superfaithful hero. Deborah rescues a nation in peril, restores faith and justice to the land, inspires others to bravely serve, and even gets her own theme song. All she's missing is the cape. Deborah helps us to understand that meekness is strength built from humbly putting your gifts to the best use. Deborah can't leap over buildings or shoot lasers from her eyes, so what are her gifts? Deborah is confident, wise, and brave. She deeply cares for others and is willing to put her life on the line to help them. This care is not reserved for the wealthy or powerful but directed at the common people all around her. Above all, Deborah is faithful to God.   

Special Prayers:  As you learn about Deborah, you’re invited to choose a prayer to repeat throughout the day. The goal is to memorize the simple prayer so that it is there for you and your kids whenever you might need it in life.

Deborah Kid’s Prayer:

Help us to have humble hearts.
Make mine beat like a justice
As you build up your great king
I will be one of its

Deborah Prayer Poem:

You make me strong. I lean on your might.  
You make me wise.
I’m nourished by your righteousness.  
You make me brave.
I am filled with a fierceness for your fairness.

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Mystery Museum Story and Service

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Click or tap the icon for a day three pdf of the story guide that you can view online or print. The guide includes a daily guiding question, learning objectives, supplies list, an activity introducing kids to the Bible story, questions to go with the Bible character video, instructions for a service learning project to reinforce the story, as well as a final lesson reflection.    

This video features Deborah Under The Palm Tree, 1995, by Adrienne Cruz.

Learn more at

Service learning

Go deeper into the story by serving.

Your town has a big problem! Right now, there are kids in your community who don't have enough healthy foods. You can make a difference and help out!


The Story and Service Guide includes instructions for how to start a vegetable garden, but do you want to dive even deeper into serving your community? Hunger is a global challenge, in that people all over the world struggle to find enough food each day. You can learn more about food insecurity here but, in short, food insecurity is a daily struggle to provide healthy food for a family. A mom or dad may start to skip meals so that their kids have enough to eat, after receiving a surprise medical bill. A family may be forced to substitute healthy foods with unhealthy foods because they are cheaper, or because there are no healthy foods available where they live. A grandparent may rely on someone to deliver food to them because they are no longer able to cook. A student may have to skip meals in order to buy an expensive book that is required for their class. A whole country might lose the food it usually relies upon when insects kill off all the crops they've grown, a draught prevents crops from even growing, or a war blocks crops from moving to where they are needed. Hunger is all around us. 

We can be sure that one of the big issues that Deborah had to help people navigate, while she served as a judge beneath the big palm tree, was hunger. The stresses and injustices faced by her people while they lived under the oppressive rule of Jabin would have certainly forced many people to go hungry. Deborah did not judge people for being hungry. Everyone gets hungry! It is the unfair ways in which food is shared amongst people that Deborah judged. Hunger injustice is still with us, so Deborah's fight is not over. Here are some ideas for how you and your family can make a difference when it comes to hunger and food insecurity in your community.

  • Deborah's palm tree was a community hub that many people visited. You can bet that food was shared there. Are you part of a group that meets often or are you in charge of a community space?

    • Consider offering food at your meetings or events. Food insecurity is often invisible, in that you might never realize that the person right next to you is going hungry. Simply offer the opportunity for food to be shared at your event and that person will have something to eat.

    • If you have access to a community space with a kitchen, offer that space as a place for people to celebrate their food culture and traditions. For many people, a big part of food insecurity is lacking access to expensive appliances like refrigerators and ovens. Many people have wonderful skills for preparing delicious foods and long for the chance to share those gifts with others. 

    • If your community space includes unused square footage, consider allowing a community garden. Vegetables can be planted directly into the ground, into planters placed on pavement, or even into boxes indoors. Kids, youth, adults, and elders can all contribute to a community garden.

    • Consider starting up a food pantry, but be sure to check on any local regulations in place to ensure that the food you help provide is safe. Kids are taking the lead on this by setting up little free pantries in their front yards or at their schools!

  • Like Deborah and her army marching for justice, you can join a hunger walk, or even host one. Hunger walks or protests take many forms. Crop Walk has some great resources for hosting a walk. Also consider how hunger intersects with other injustices facing your community. You may be moved to join a climate justice protest that addresses how a changing climate affects our ability to grow foods, or a peace protest that addresses how a war is causing hunger, or a indigenous rights protest that addresses how an essential water source that native people protect is under threat.

  • If you normally drive to the grocery store, the next time you do, pay attention to whether their are sidewalks on the way there or if there is a bus stop nearby. Can people who do not own cars get to the grocery store? If not, bother your city council or mayor about making sure your whole community can get to the grocery store.

  • Check online to see if your state or county collects data about food insecurity. They may even use those data to create maps of food deserts, or areas where food is unavailable to most of the people who live there because they are no grocery stores, farmers markets, or restaurants that offer healthy foods. Food deserts exist all over the country--in rural areas, in cities, on reservations, and maybe even within your own community. Educating yourself about local hunger issues is the first step in becoming an advocate for change. 

Pollinator Gardens

Certain insects, called pollinators, are indispensable in the natural process through which many plants produce fruit and vegetables. 

Christ the King Lutheran Church, in West Chester, OH, has collected some great resources to help churches support essential pollinating bugs and birds. God created an incredible ecosystem in which flying things spread around the pollen that helps vegetables and fruits grow while they search for their own meals in the plants' flowers. It's amazing!


Here's another great site

about monarch butterflies.

Check out Christ the King's website to learn more about growing gardens that support pollinators. These gardens also happen to be more beautiful, more sustainable, and more productive!


Mystery Museum Art


recycled tube castles

Click or tap the icon for a day three pdf of the art guide that you can view online or print.  The guide will lead you through creating your own little castles. 

Learning Objective: Jesus’ kingdom is like a strong castle where every
part matters. In a castle, the blocks on the bottom are just as important as the blocks on top. Every part of the castle is important in making sure the whole thing is strong.

Questions to ask the kids while you’re creating together:

  • Who is the most important person in your home?

  • What would happen if the person who makes food, stopped cooking?

  • What would happen if the person who cleans, stopped cleaning? For example, if they stopped doing laundry, what would happen?

  • What would happen if the person who shops, stopped shopping? For example, if they stopped buying toilet paper, what would you do!?

Click or tap the video icon for a video demonstration of Recycled Tube Castles.

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Mystery Museum Science


Plant Power

Click or tap the icon for a day three pdf of the science guide that you can view online or print.  The guide will lead you through making a plant light maze and soil tester.

Learning Objective: The roots from plants strengthen the soil they grow in and those plants eventually become mulch. Strong plants make soil richer and rich soil make plants stronger! Plus sunlight and water help plants to grow. Deborah used to give the people of Israel help from beneath a palm tree. That tree must have been pretty important to the people who knew it but it was also important to the animals, soil, and other plants that were around. With rich soil, lots of sunlight, and plenty of water, Deborah's tree grew into something great. With humility, confidence, creativity, and faith Deborah grew into a great hero. You can also grow into a great servant hero!

Questions to ask the kids while you’re exploring together:

  • Have you ever planted something before?

  • How long does it take for different plants to grow, like flowers, vegetable plants, and trees?

  • What are the things that plants need to be able to grow?

  • Do you know where soil comes from? What makes rich soil?

  • When we say that soil is rich, do we mean that it’s made of money?

  • What does it mean to be rich but not have lots of money?

  • Deborah was rich with gifts from God; can you name some of her gifts? Deborah was a prophet, judge, leader, warrior, and singer.


Click or tap the video icon for a video demonstration of Plant Power.  Please note, the video includes a different experiment on growing plants than Light Maze found in the guide.

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Mystery Museum Games


Plant Power

Click or tap the icon for a day three pdf of the games guide that you can view online or print.  The guide will lead you through a water relay.


Learning Objective: Can we match the amazing power of a growing plant? We can learn a lot from plants and water just like we’re learning a lot from Deborah. Plants use the gifts of water to grow in amazing ways and to produce amazing fruits and vegetables. Deborah used the gifts that God gave her to do amazing things in the world. God calls us to use our gifts in amazing ways too.

Questions to ask the kids while you’re playing together:

  • Do you like getting wet?

  • What sorts of things do you need water for?

  • What do plants and animals need water for?

  • Do we also need God to live and grow?

  • What can we do to make sure all people, plants, and animals have the water that they need?

  • How would the world be better if there were more plants and animals and less thirsty people?

  • What did Deborah do to try to make the world better?

Click or tap the video icon for a video demonstration of Plant Power.

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Mystery Museum Music

Deborah Song: Jesus makes me a hero


Click or tap for the

Mystery Museum theme song.

Deborah the prophet opened her ears to God. Deborah the musician used her voice to praise God. Deborah the warrior used her every step and all her strength to lead others to liberation. Deborah the judge interpreted right and wrong through God’s love. She was a true hero.

Each day's song comes to you from the Saddleback Kids youtube page.  The song is presented with easy-to-learn motions.  Click or tap the video icon for the music video.  

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Mystery Museum Whodunnits?


A whodunnit is a mystery story that you can solve with the characters as you read along. You can also easily adapt these stories into skits. Click or tap the icon for a complete pdf of the whodunnits that you can view online or print.

At the mystery museum, the mystery has only deepened with the discovery of strange new paintings. Shurkey must work together with the curator, Miss Purple, and you, to solve The Case of the Vanishing Portraits.

Click or tap the play icon for a reading of this whodunnit episode from Pastor Katie.

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What's going on with that portrait?


Excerpt from Episode Three:

     “Wait!” Exclaimed Shurkey, “Eureka! The simplest solution is most often the right solution. Someone has used this vacuum to clean up the scene of the crime. We must see what’s inside.”

     Miss Purple caught on to what Shurkey was saying and opened up the vacuum to find, “Dirt!” “There’s also a bit of paper in here,” continued Miss Purple as she reached into the vacuum and pulled out a scrap of paper.

     Shurkey took the paper and read, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” “I’m meek,” exclaimed Miss Purple, “I mean Deborah was meek and today I’m Deborah. From Deborah we learned that the meek are people who humbly use their gifts to help whoever needs them. These are heroic types of people who do a lot to serve and even save others but they don’t do it to be praised or rewarded. They’re like super heroes, like Deborah.”

     “This must be another saying from Jesus,” said Shurkey, “That makes three of them. I wonder how this all fits together. We’re starting to gather a great collection of clues but I think we need more time to solve this case. I’m so close. If I could just figure out what’s going on with those paintings—”


The Mystery Museum learning guides as well as the whodunnits were all written by Deacon Dan. He also created all the graphics, edited the videos, and built this website. He has served in children, youth, and campus ministries and offers these free resources on his art and ministry site, 

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