Do you have a teen who wants to change the world? Thankfully, for all of its issues, our society is encouraging children to become more involved in making a difference in the world. As a Christian though, I want to make sure my daughter understands one very important principle the world does not teach. Souls last longer than bodies.
Serving the felt needs of people without sharing God with them, only helps them temporarily. We have done nothing to make sure they have an opportunity to go to heaven when they die. On the other hand, trying to share the Gospel with someone who is starving or in pain is cruel. How can they hear God’s love, when you aren’t even taking the time to get them some food or medicine so they don’t starve? Serving felt needs and sharing the Gospel should always be done together.
I saw a great idea on Pinterest that originated on the Kids With a Vision blog (a neighborhood outreach in Newport Hills). Their group is K-3rd grade, but I really think any age group would benefit from this service project.
Often when we run across homeless people, a lot of us freeze. We want to help, but then we hear the voices arguing in our heads about helping versus enabling addiction and other things. So next time, instead of fighting with yourself or your family about whether or not to give a homeless person money, hand them a “Caring Bag” instead. The bags should help meet some of the person’s current needs. You can even place a referral card to an agency that can provide the person with more in depth help.
Want a fun project to do with your children over Thanksgiving, which will also teach them real appreciation? Have your children draw a turkey on a sheet of paper – they can use their handprints to make the turkey or draw one from scratch.
After the turkey is beautiful, it is time for some fun. Brainstorm with your children to think of people who have been helpful to your family or your child this year. It may be a neighbor, friend or family member, but you need to know where they live.
Write a note on the turkey drawing to tell the person why you are thankful for them. Make the note personal and heartfelt. It is up to you whether or not you want to sign your name or make it a surprise. Attach it to a bag and fill it with little goodies to thank them. If you are leaving it anonymously, you may want to put in a box of cocoa, wrapped candies or a small gift card. If you sign it, you can leave home baked goodies and more personal, rather than store bought items.
When Jesus told the people to love others as they loved themselves, I imagine most of them thought, “That one is easy”. On the surface, I would imagine most of us think of ourselves as being kind and helpful the majority of the time. Jesus was really asking us to go beyond that though. I think when you put this command with others in the Bible about caring for our neighbors, widows, orphans, the poor, our brothers and sisters in Christ and a host of others, there is a deeper message.
A large part of caring for others is the ability to be empathetic. It is entirely too easy to accidentally become like the other people in the story of the “Good Samaritan.” How many times have we walked by someone who is sad, either assuming someone else would take care of it or not even really seeing the person or her pain? We need to train ourselves and our children to see the hurting people around us, identify how they are hurting and then help them in the best possible ways. I believe developing a strong sense of empathy can make us more like the loving Christians Jesus was really calling us to be.
Most children seem to collect something or several somethings during their years at home. Many adults continue these collections or add new ones. There must be something about human nature that enjoys collecting things. I don’t think it is necessarily motivated by greed, because there are some rather strange collections out there. My guess is that it has more to do with the “thrill of the chase” or the excitement of accomplishing a goal.
Collections can teach your child a lot of godly lessons. She can learn how to manage her money well, how to care for things she has been blessed with and how to be a good steward in general. Many children start out collecting rocks, stamps, coins or other every day items. What if we encouraged our children to start a different kind of collection? One that would still fulfill many of their collection needs and teach some additional godly lessons.