We visited a 100-year-old Haitian woman. In 100 degree weather (with 100% humidity) she was sitting in a shack, totally void of anything comfortable and yet SHE prayed for US!
Never have I felt so inspired in the face of someone that was absolutely financially bankrupt. I doubt I ever will again.
But you want to know something funny. When we asked Marie what she wanted most, she asked to pray that the Lord would bring her some coffee!!!
It’s so simple, yet she struggled to get this luxury.
Believe me, we brought her a thermos of coffee the next morning when we picked her up for church.
Helping others by spreading the message of Jesus and providing for their physical needs is vitally important.
I know I’m not alone in my love for missions, many of are serving others at home and abroad.
It’s great for YOU to have a heart for mission work, but wouldn’t be great if your children had one too?
I believe that if we pass the love for volunteer work onto children, the legacy of love & service will live beyond us.
So, how can you get kids excited about helping others through missions work?
How To Get Kids Excited About Helping Others through Missions
1. YOU Have to be excited about Missions
A love of missions work has to start with you because you cannot give away what you don’t have.
If you don’t love missions work, no amount of effort will inspire your children to get excited about serving. The common saying, ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ holds true. Your children are a reflection of you!
Once you are truly excited about missionary work, your love of it will naturally spill over into the hearts and minds of your family.
If you struggle with this, may I recommend reviewing my list of recommended missionary books.
2. Praying For Missionaries
If you sacrifice your time at the gym, your mind turns towards healthy living. If you sacrifice your time for God, your heart turns towards Him.
Prayer is a sacrifice.
When you sacrifice your time and energy for praying for missionaries, your heart will also turn toward the work that they are doing.
Praying with children in my house is akin to herding cats. So if you have little children (or sometimes even bigger children) here are some tips to making your missionary-minded prayer time a success!
Get Pictures of Your Missionaries
Praying for specific missionaries (especially ones you know) can put a name and face to what could otherwise be only a concept.
Make your prayers short and specific
Kids often have a short attention span. If you are just starting off, don’t expect them to reverently pray for 20-30 minutes. Keep it to 5 minutes and give yourself a pat on the back if all hell doesn’t break loose!
Let your children do the praying
Children often get bored of praying because it’s always the adults doing the long monologue. Get them involved. Let their sweet voices be heard by God.
While they pray for others, you pray for them
As your children are praying for your specific missionaries, spend your time praying that their hearts will increasingly turn towards the mission field. You never know, your prayers might cause them to become a real-life missionary one day (even if it’s only to their own country).
3. Going to Mission-Minded Events
We attended The Compassion Experience. This family-friendly event guides you through an immersive exhibit so you can experience other cultures, the realities of global poverty, and how you can change the life of a child living half a world away.
By going to this event, my children were vitually transported to another country. They heard the stories of how the work of missions has a daily effect on the lives of children JUST LIKE THEM! They got to touch the dingy items they were forced to cook/eat with. They got to see life before missionary work and then after.
Missions work came alive to my children the day we went to this missionary-minded event.
4. Knowing the Eternal Effect of Missions Work
Starting any endeavor with the end in mind is the best way to see a work unto completion without getting sidetracked.
When I write a book or blog post, I always think about how I want it to end. When teaching your children to care about missions work, start your children on the right track by explaining to them that what they are doing has eternal ramifications.
Tell them that their little prayers matter A LOT. Stress to them that if we don’t pray, who will? What they do is important and has eternal significance.
Teach them the scriptures that say God is searching the world for those that have willing hearts to support His great commission.
Don’t guilt them into prayer, but to inspire them to take on the mantle of prayer and support because THEY (even as children) are necessary to the continued work of the gospel.
5. Studying Missionaries
Turning the hearts of children towards the things of God is difficult when they are constantly bombarded with entertainment, media, school and playdates.
The task can seem daunting. Being excited about missions work, spending time praying for missionaries with your children, going to events, and explaining to them the effects of mission work is a great foundation, but I believe continually setting the importance of missions work before their eyes is important.
Developing a heart for missions is a life-long endeavor.
My blogger friend, Kim at NotConsumed.com, has developed a great missionary study kit for parents to work through with their children. Whether you add it to your homeschooling curriculum or you do it on the days you can’t make it to church, it can be a great addition to creating a life-long love for the mission field.
It’s a 12-week study of real missionaries. It’s a 103-paged downloadable PDF that you can read from and then print out the activity pages for your children to fill in. It also includes penmanship pages with great scriptures to memorize. (Remember that God’s Word never returns void! Even if it’s used for handwriting!)
Volunteering with kids is an essential way to give children a heart for service at home and abroad. But with six children I understand the difficulty of serving with children in tow! I catalog one of our many experiences to the nearby elderly facility here. (There are lots of real life pictures to show you what it really looks like.)
Some great places to serve/volunteer with children along with age appropriateness are:
- Nursing Homes (newborn-teens)
- Promoting Compassion International via a booth at your church on Compassion Sunday (newborn-teens)
- Volunteering at a soup kitchen (older kids-teens)
- Making dinner for a new mom (young kids-teens)
- Pick up litter (toddler-teens)
- Write letters to those serving our country (elementary-teens)
- Collect toys for children (young kids-teens)
- Have a garage sale and donate proceeds to charity (elementary-teens)
- Host a jewelry party (elementary-teens)
- AWANAS (7th grade-teen can be volunteers too!)
Volunteering can be sporadic or regularly scheduled based on your family’s needs and stage of life. Remember to do all things ‘unto the Lord’ and do not let guilt force you to obligate your family into a position they aren’t ready for.
Remember it’s better to say ‘NO’ and then change your mind, then it is to say ‘YES’ and neglect your obligation. (Matthew 21:30)
Once you learn about missionary work you might want to take the next step and GO on a mission trip with your children. May I recommend my friends at Healing Haiti that have developed an alternative for family vacations called Vacations with a Purpose. They offer a great opportunity for families to go to Haiti and stay at a beautiful resort on the crystal clear beaches and choose what family-friendly missionary activities they want to attend.
If you are going to spend money on a memorable vacation with your family anyway, consider adding some volunteer work in the mix. It will not only serve others, but it will serve to knit your family’s hearts toward each other and the mission field.
Another thing you can do is to use PrintForChange.com. They are an online printing retailer that sends half of all their profits to Healing Haiti’s work. Even your family Christmas card can help promote missions work!
How fun would it be for your children to know that even their birthday invitations are helping others!
Do you have any tips? I would love to hear them on my Facebook page!
Head covering Christian woman who loves good wine, coffee, stinky cheese and missionary books. My favorite dessert is Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake. I am a Christian author, blogger, and speaker. I fell in love with my husband because he had rain drops on his glasses (true story). In my spare time I homeschool my six children (5 girls, 2 boys).