The children in our church are learning how to be missionaries this summer. Now before you stop reading, your child doesn’t have to move to the ends of the earth and never see you to be a missionary. I am not sure when it happened, but at some point in Christian history, it seems we decided we could pay someone to do our mission work for us. Now, I am all for supporting missionaries who are willing to move to other countries and teach people about God. I just wish we all thought of ourselves as missionaries, just like the Christians in the first century did.
If you want to learn how to be a good missionary, start reading the book of Acts. It is full of stories about the first missionaries in the church. It teaches you not only the important things to tell someone about the story of Jesus, but different ways to find people to teach. It even tells you about the problems missionaries can encounter and how to handle them in a godly way.
Our children started with learning about the missionary journeys of Philip. They saw a re-inactment of Philip healing beggars, converting Simon and then the Ethiopian Eunuch. They even got to take chariot rides to see what it must have felt like to be the Ethiopian Eunuch.
Foreign missions scare a lot of Christians. The idea of living in a country other than the United States just doesn’t appeal to them. The good news is that short term mission trips are becoming more important to mission efforts in other countries. Teams come into a mission field for a week or two and assist either the local missionaries or a local congregation with a local preacher.
Our children began learning about various mission opportunities available to them. St. Vincent is an island where our congregation regularly sends mission teams. The local preachers are all from the island, but with the remote location of their city and the amount of work to be done, they appreciate the extra help.
Our team is getting ready for its mission trip this summer. The children learned about life in St. Vincent. We created a room to give them a feel of what life is like on the island. They tasted foods they might eat if they went to St. Vincent with our team. They saw sites on the island and heard the people sing.
If you have similar tropical mission locales you wish to share, our room is easy to re-create. We pulled in plants from all over the church to make it look lush. Green gels on the lights gave it an even warmer feel. We covered the classroom items and the floors with burlap and other brown fabrics. A dvd of photos from St. Vincent played on the screen while the teachers shared their souvenirs and mission team items. I even found world map fabric on E-Bay and had it made into a quilt. It is easy to throw on the floor and let the children and teachers try to find the places they are learning about on the map.
Even though our children are a little young to go on this particular mission trip, they helped prepare a service project for the team. Most hotels want you to take their toiletries with you when you leave. They think of it as free advertising. Our members had donated their collections of toiletries from various hotel stays. The children packaged these in clear bags to make it easier for the team to get them through customs and distribute them to the people who need the items so badly.
Local missions are perhaps the easiest and yet maybe the most neglected form of sharing God’s Words with others. This summer our children will be studying the various types of every day needs God commands us to help fill. We are learning that it is probably hard for people to hear the Gospel when they are hungry, thirsty or cold. The children will learn about the various ways to help fulfill the scriptures and then teach these same people about God’s plan for their lives.
Although it is not a huge concern in the United States, we started with the scripture in Matthew, where Jesus says “I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” The children learned that one billion people on earth do not have access to clean water. They saw what dirty water looks like and tried to carry a huge container of water. They realized that to even take that water to the grocery store less than a mile from our building would take them a very long time. The children realized that drinking the “yucky” water would make them feel pretty “yucky” themselves. Maybe too bad to want to listen to even the words of God.
The children decorated water bottles that they will try to fill with the money they collect, save and earn for the next two months. We will take their money and donate it to Charity Water to build a well for a town that currently has no access to clean water. Once the well is built, Charity Water will give us the location of “our” well. We will find a nearby missionary and send pictures and letters to the people explaining how we loved them and wanted them to have clean water. We hope the missionary will then share with them about the Living Water that is always available to them.
We hope that throughout the summer our children will learn a lot of different ways they can be missionaries for God. Some may decide to move to another country and be a permanent missionary. Others may go on short term mission trips or learn how to teach people here about God while they are serving them. We invite you to join us on our journey. Many of our activities you can adapt and do at home or in your own church. My hope is that you too will raise another missionary for God.