-Joy is the proud wife of a missionary pilot, as well as the blessed mommy to five. She and her family live on the island of Tarakan in Indonesia, where they serve as missionaries. Joy has a passion to encourage women to find contentment in the "mission field" right inside their home--their family. You can visit Joy at her personal blog, The SAH Missionary.
The Bible commands us to "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel." How do we teach our children to catch this vision? How do we teach them to be missions minded?
I believe Matthew 5:16 is foundational to all that we want to be as Christians, and all that we want to teach our children about missions. It says, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven."
If we want to reach the world with the Gospel, and subsequently teach our children to do the same, we need to let our light shine in everything we do. How does this translate into thinking about missions?
Look no further than your own neighborhood. America is just as much a mission field as the jungles of South America, the cities of China, and the suffering tribes of Uganda. We can show our children the hurting people right in our own neighborhood that need to see and hear God's love.
::Pray for unsaved neighbors, friends, and family members with your children. Let your children see your burden for these people. Take a loaf of bread to the neighbor you've never met, invite the lonely elderly lady from down the street over for lunch, or simply smile warmly at the cashier when you shop. As you begin to look around, you will have no lack of opportunity to share God’s love!
::Learn about the missionaries that are supported by your local church. If you don't know the missionaries, find out about them! Take your children to missions conferences and spend time with furloughing missionaries. Then, find one or two missionaries you are particularly interested in, and get all their information! Ask for their prayer card, their prayer letter, and any other information about their ministry. Get your children involved in reading about the place the missionaries serve and what they do there. Cook a meal for your family from the country where the missionaries serve, and talk about the culture of that country. Pray for the missionaries as a family, and allow your children to watch as these prayers are answered.
::Read great missionary stories. There are many excellent stories about missionaries who served in America as well as overseas. Vision Forum has an excellent book entitled, The Adventures of Missionary Heroism, that might be a good place to start. Fill your children's minds with stories of those who have "gone before".
::Find out about other children living around the world. There are excellent resources such as Compassion International, that allows you to "adopt a child" by supporting them each month and thus, changing their life forever. I believe that it can also do the reverse. As your children receive letters from a child across the world, suddenly it becomes personal! Their understanding of the world is expanded, and their heart and life are changed. There is also a wonderful website for children put out by Voice of the Martyrs called Kids of Courage. They have a magazine they send out that is free of charge and it will show your children what life is like for Christian children around the world, and the things that they go through that some may take for granted.
::Give sacrificially. It may be fairly easy for you and your spouse to write a check of support to an organization or a missionary family. However, if you want your children to see and get excited about giving toward missions, you need to bring it down to their level. Pray and talk together about a missionary or a project that you would like to support. Then, come up with a plan of action with your children. It could be as simple as deciding together to eat a simple meal of rice and beans once a week, and donating the extra money to your cause. Or it could be as elaborate as hosting a bake sale, garage sale, or some other sort of sale , and then giving the money away.
::Lastly, and most importantly, pray for your children's hearts to be softened to the things that your discuss with them. Pray for your children to rise above the status quo and become world-changers, wherever they may be. If we want to see the next generation sold out for the sake of the Cross, we need to be on our knees each and every day, praying for them.
In all these things, we need to convey to our children our love for those who are lost. We need to tell our children over and over that missions is not something that's just done on some foreign field, but rather it begins right here--right where we live, and in whatever we do. And, you don't have to wait. God is ready to use you and your children right now, today.
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12
Thanks, Joy, for sharing your ideas! Be sure to stop by The SAH Missionary for more by Joy!
How do you encourage your children to have a vision for missions and reaching the lost? I'd love to hear what ideas you are implementing in your home.