Thoughts From the Mission Field

Thoughts from the Mission Field - Parenting Like HannahAs the children in our church continue to learn about missions and sharing their faith, I thought I would ask a missionary friend of mine for some input. I had a pretty good idea about the characteristics a person needed to develop to be a successful short term missions participant. My friend, Donna has been on the mission field for years with her family in at least two different countries. I thought she would have good insight into the qualities we need to develop in our children if we truly want them to be missionaries.

After some thought, she came up with an interesting list:

  • Willing to learn the language and culture of the people one hopes to minister to
  • Fully committed to God and His Direction
  • Loves to serve others
  • Has clear personal boundaries
  • Understands that some ways of helping can actually hurt more than they help. Talks through ideas with God, the person needing help and others more experienced before launching into a new effort
  • Good at raising funds and recognizing and using gifts in others
  • Is in good physical health and shape (makes for a more effective work)
  • Visionary, but not afraid to fail
  • Good organizational skills (or at least someone on the team)
  • Patient
  • Flexibility
  • Has a good support team at home that understands and supports the mission

I would have to say our series is primarily focusing on helping to develop the first three traits in our children. Our centers are designed to teach our children more thoroughly about God’s Will for their lives as well as teaching them about other languages, cultures and ways to serve and share the Gospel simultaneously.

This week we were able to focus on one of the mission fields our congregation has sponsored for years – Haiti. One of our members is actually a Haitian by birth and taught the center. She provided artwork and items from Haiti. She was able to find some favorite foods in local markets. She shared some Cuban crackers, guava jelly, mangos, plantain chips and coconut water.

Our congregation has supported the work in Haiti for years, sending mission workers, semi-trucks full of needed food and household items and providing monetary support. One of the ministries there is a large orphanage and school.  It was decided that the children would paint a large mural to help brighten the orphanage.

We have really used our congregation’s artists this summer. The woman who made the stamps for our t-shirts also drew and supervised our mural painting this week. Another artist has been overseeing our testimony t-shirt project and adding artistic touches to my decorating attempts. The mural was drawn in thick black lines. The children choose the colors within the scheme and paint it. Once they are finished an adult will go back and smooth it out a little and add a note to the bottom.

Thoughts from the Mission Field - Parenting Like Hannah Thoughts from the Mission Field - Parenting Like Hannah

We will continue to work on the mural on Wednesday nights so it will be finished in time for the next mission trip to Haiti in the Fall. If you don’t have access to an artist, you can use a projector to project the picture onto a canvas. This one is not mounted to make it easier to get through Customs in Haiti. We are using acrylic paints that are actually left over from another mural project we did.

In our community center, we focused on God’s commands to care for orphans. We also included Foster Children in this category. We discussed how important it is for children to have good parents, not only for health reasons. The older children were able to have a good discussion on the effects bad parenting might have on someone when you tell them God is their Father.

AGAPE, our local Christian foster and adoption placement agency gave us a specific need they had. The foster parents needed activity bags to keep the children occupied on the many car trips and appointments they have.  A local store donated nice tote bags for us to use and various members donated the items to fill them.  We divided them into five age groups and tried to put age appropriate items in each bag.

Thoughts from the Mission Field - Parenting Like Hannah Thoughts from the Mission Field - Parenting Like Hannah

We need to add a couple of things to some of the bags, but in a week or so, we should be able to deliver 50 activity bags to AGAPE to give to their foster families. The children loved stuffing the bags. If this is your main project for a Bible class quarter or for your family, I would encourage you to take your children shopping with you. Let them help decide what to buy to place in the bags.

Finally our children saw Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. A relatively dark hallway and a spot light hidden in a ceiling tile, allowed the bright light to shine on them all. The older kids of course spent a little too much effort on trying to find where the “Lord’s” voice was coming from, but they were definitely engaged!

The work on the t-shirts the children will use to tell others the Gospel story continued. With the small amount of time we have, this is definitely a multi-week project. Because we spend so little time on it each week though, the children are remaining interested in it.

If you are trying these activities at your church or home, I encourage you to discuss the list of qualities a missionary should have with your children. Which ones do they naturally possess? Which ones do they need to pray for God’s help to develop? Which ones can they learn?  Which ones should every Christian develop so they can share God’s Words with others?

My curiosity is piqued now, so I may ask a few more missionary friends for their lists. It will be interesting to see what we learn from people who are devoting their entire life to move to another country and share God’s Plan. I’ll share with you what I learn.

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Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19 NIV)