When should we begin to instill a love of missions in children? When they reach middle-school? Or when they become Christians? It really is never too soon to start teaching young ones about God’s love for the world. Even preschoolers can begin to understand that His love is for all people everywhere. While they do not have a geographical concept of where Africa is, they can certainly understand that everyone should hear about how much Jesus loves them. We as teachers, parents and grandparents need to use every opportunity to create a desire in children to learn about the world and its peoples. When they see us model a missions lifestyle, they will begin to develop a vision and heart for the world too. Here are some ideas to help you get started.
- Bring the world into your home and classroom. Use world maps to help children begin to learn about countries of the world. Oriental Trading Company stocks all kinds of world items such as erasers, pencils, world beach balls, etc., at reasonable prices. Introducing mission concepts is appropriate in any teaching situation (Sunday school, choir, Vacation Bible School, craft sessions, etc.).
- Call the state Woman’s Missionary Union office to get the names of missionaries spending time in your state. Invite them to your church or to share a meal with your family or small group. If they have children, find ways to connect your children to theirs. Make missionaries “real” by learning about their interests, where they serve, their challenges, etc.
- Search your church media center for biographies of missionaries. Woman’s Missionary Union has published several which can be ordered at www.wmustore.com
- Watch travel videos as a way for children to learn about other countries. Cable television has a Travel Channel that airs excellent travelogues. National Geographic has produced wonderful glimpses into other cultures.
- When a missionary visits your church, invite him/her for lunch or dinner.
- Befriend an international student who is attending a university in your area. Call the closest Christian college to discover missionary kids who might be willing to share a meal and information about their country with you and your family or small group. California Baptist University, Riverside, has several TCKs (Third Culture Kids) who might be willing to share about their lives overseas.
- Adopt an MK (TCK) and send him/her birthday cards, small gifts, and invite them into your home during holidays. These college students often do not have relatives nearby and finances to travel are always an issue. They usually welcome such invitations!
- Access the names of people groups through the Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB). Choose a people group to pray for regularly as a family/group (IMB provides information on population, location, etc.). This is a great way to heighten children’s awareness of other people in the world. Mark the people group’s location on a map and refer to it as you pray.
Plants process rain and sunlight through a process known as photosynthesis. They remain healthy and grow because of the process. Unfortunately, there is no similar process for children to absorb missions information! If we want to have future generations of believers who have a vision and heart for the world, WE are that process as we model and teach them. Growing missions-minded children is a critical element in our reaching the world with the Good News of Jesus.
How does your garden grow?