We travel in a 10-mile radius every single day. Every once in a while, we venture out for a vacation and holiday before we quickly jump back into the safety of our little circle.
But I want more for my kids.
I want them to understand that there is a great big world out there filled with 8 billion uniquely created people. Eight billion men, women, and children who need to know just how much Jesus loves them.
So, I polled my girlfriends for ideas on how to build in our children a heart for missions. I think you will like this list.
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Choose a Family Missionary
Ask your church for the names of missionaries whom your church sponsors. Choose a family to love with letters and prayers. Or choose four and rotate through one each week of the month. Many missionaries offer prayer cards with their pictures and monthly e-newsletters telling you how to pray for them. Read the letters at supper and then popcorn prayer their praises and needs. For added learning, read about the culture and people in the country where they are serving. This leads to our next point.
Have an International Day
With admiration in her voice, one friend explained how as a child each Friday was International Day. Her mom shared about different countries around the world and prepared food representing that country. They even dressed the part to further the learning. To guide the time, my friend suggested the book Operation World by Jason Mandryk which provides facts about different places in world. The Operation World website contains specific information on each country as well.
While once a week seems overwhelming to me, maybe a monthly tradition would be more doable of your home. The key is to make it work for your family!
Display Maps in Your Home
For several years laminated maps have decorated our playroom wall – the US and the world. Amazon has several to choose from. We refer to the maps when reading about a state or country in a book or the Bible. Or, when a specific place is mentioned in the news or a conversation.
Recently a friend introduced to me a fabric map by Via Nations, a ministry of Mission Mobilization. I love the Psalm 96:3 Bible verse at the top and the fabric makes it easy to transport and light to hang. Included with the map are additional activities to implement in your home or classroom.
A friend suggested putting the map behind a glass frame allowing you to circle different areas of the world with a dry erase marker to highlight the areas of focus. Love this idea!
Time Zone Clocks
One friend hangs several clocks in her playroom with the name of a missionary underneath each. Each clock is set to whatever time it is where the missionary is living. This helps her and her family pray for the activities of each family in relationship to what they may be doing at that time.
Invite Missionaries into Your Home
I grew up in a very mission-minded church. Missionaries from around the world visited on a regular basis. We invited them into our homes for meals and I developed friendships with their children. To this day, whenever I hear about the country of Germany, I immediately think of the Davidson family who served there for many years. Talk to your church to learn what missionaries are on furlough and when they will be in your area.
Fill a Shoebox for Operation Christmas Child
If you are not familiar with OCC, it is a fun activity to do with your children – even preschool age. Fill a shoebox will little gifts and hygiene items to send to children around the world. Be sure to pray over each box and track online where the box travels. Read more… Insider Tips to Packing a Shoebox Filled with Love for Operation Christmas Child
While we often think of missionaries as being overseas, there are many who are based right in the US, making it very easy to serve alongside them. Last summer our family spent our vacation serving at Broken Arrow Bible Ranch in Gallop, New Mexico. While I worked in the kitchen, my husband and our kids spent the week cleaning and loving on the campers. We came home exhausted, but our hearts were full. Our kids will never forget that week and I will never forget the conversations that came out of it.
Sponsor a Child
I will admit that I have always been skeptical of programs that promise to help children in third-world countries. But after a visit to a Compassion International sponsored area, our pastor came back very impressed about how funds are used, and the children are affected. He encouraged our entire church body to choose a child to sponsor. Our family chose two little girls from Honduras. We pray for Melanie and Karen, send letters, and provide money for birthday gifts. We love receiving letters from the girls as well. Find out more about Compassion International.
Give to Missionaries
Lead by example and support missionaries financially. Encourage your children to give a percentage of their money to missionaries as well. Read more about Teaching Children Money Management and How to Give When Money is Tight.
Matthew 28:19 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” For some, going means putting boots on the ground. For others, it means supporting those in ministry through prayer, encouragement, and financial giving. There are many ways to “impress” upon our children the importance of going and making disciples. Now it’s your turn to decide what is best for your family. I’d love to hear which idea you choose.