We had a house fire the night before we intended to leave. It was devastating, but we knew that something more important was at stake. There was something God wanted to tell us.
So, we left our charred house and set out to accomplish what we’d planned all along — attend a Voice of the Martyrs Conference in Katy, Texas. I was 7 months pregnant with our fourth child who was nameless at the time. We just couldn’t decide on a name. Nothing ‘clicked’ like it had with the first three.
Little did we know that that conference would not only change our family’s entire focus, but that our little girl would bear the name of a modern-day martyr who died in Jerusalem for her faith.
Needless to say, our children have been taught about Christian persecution from a very young age. We don’t hide the fact that our faith comes with some heavy requirements. It’s not just a prayer at the altar, but giving our hearts to Jesus is a life altering commitment that may one day take everything we hold dear — even our very lives.
We believe firmly, as the Bible teaches, that before we make such a commitment we should ‘count the cost’ because if we don’t understand, we may give up the truth when we are forced to choose between it and our comfort. (Luke 14:28)
Maybe you are wondering how to teach kids about Christian persecution, but you have questions like:
- What age is too soon to teach kids about Christian persecution?
- Where do I start?
- How much detail should I go into?
- What if it scares them?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to those questions. Only you can determine what your kids can handle and what you are comfortable sharing.
I would encourage you to do three things when you teach kids about Christian persecution.
- Pray and wait for the Holy Spirit’s leading
- Realize it’s not a one time event
- Understand that your child may experience fear, but remind them that Jesus is bigger than that fear!
Whatever you decide, realize that as a parent or guardian of a child they only way they will correctly learn about Christian persecution is if you teach them. (So make sure you brush up on your knowledge too!) But whether it’s ISIS, Communism or a school shooting, persecution is a real part of our Christian faith. These resources will show you how to teach kids about Christian persecution.
How to Teach Kids About Christian Persecution
1. The Bible
The Bible should be your first go-to when it comes to teaching your kid about Christian persecution. Here are a few stories to share with your children, especially if they are younger and you aren’t ready to dive into the nitty gritty of the issue.
- The story of Jesus
- Paul and Silas in prison for the faith (Acts 16)
- Stephen the first Christian martyr (Acts 7)
- John banished to the island of Patamos (Revelations)
2. Missionary Stories
Reading missionary stories about modern day people that have suffered for their faith (and lived to tell about it) and a great way to bring the stories from the Bible into modern day. I have an entire list of missionary stories here, but here are some specifically geared towards a younger audience.
- Christian Heroes Books
- Heroes for Young Readers (ilillustrated story books)
- Ten Girls Who Changed the World (Lightkeepers)
- Ten Boys Who Changed the World (Lightkeepers)
- Heaven’s Heroes
- Missionary Stories with the Millers
- Kisses from Katie
3. Torchlighter Series
We bought this entire series at the Voice of the Martyr’s conference I mentioned above, it allows children to watch animated stories of real Christian missionaries and martyrs in a way that children can understand without being fearful or too detailed.
4. Blockbuster Movies
If you have movie buff in your house, there are a few options for movies that will introduce Christian persecution and martyrdom. Some are on Netflix/PureFlix. Here are some that I’ve enjoyed. Beware that some movies say ‘Christian’ but don’t uphold all the values of our faith. Here are my favorites that are kid-friendly(ish).
I got a copy of a book called Jesus Freak a collection of stories about martrys collected by the now-defunct Christian music band DC Talk. It was a young tween and it freaked me out a little, but I understood at a young age that having faith in Christ might one day mean that I have to give my life up for him. I literally could NOT put it down. The stories are short and easy to read. This book is probably best for older kids.
Many of the stories in the Jesus Freak book are from Fox’s Book of Martyrs.
6. Voice of the Martyrs Magazine
This FREE monthly magazine can come right to your mailbox when you sign up online for it. Learn about persecuted Christians and ways you can get involved in serving them. The images may sometimes be a little graphic, the magazine would be best for older children or teens. Click here to sign up!
This younger kid-friendly version of the Voice of the Martyrs website allows parents to read articles, download activity books, focus on specific countries and watch videos about Christian persecution. Click here to visit their site.
Though AWANAS program doesn’t focus on Christian persecution, they do talk about missionaries and encourage children to find out more about modern missionaries. And there is the added benefit of memorizing God’s Word so that they can recall it if they ever face their own persecution at school or elsewhere. (Ages 2-12)
Sometimes we just need to have a conversation with our children about Christian persecution. Start with a story about how you might have experienced persecution for your own faith…even if it was small.
I remember when I first became a Christian I wanted to listen only to Christian music, but I felt ashamed of blaring my Christian music so I made sure to roll my car windows up. This was different than when I was a sinner and would blast my rap music at the top volume with my windows fully down. What I experience was NOT persecution, but that story opens up discussion about how we are free to worship (and worship loudly) here in America, but in other countries they have to meet in secret in the dead of night.
Just talking can help them understand how much they have to be thankful for and how much other people need our prayers.
9. Host a Compassion Experience
Compassion is a child-focused Christian ministry that helps children in need in impoverished areas. Many kids live in areas that have the freedom to worship, but many children do not. By hosting a Compassion Experience at your church, you will not only be able to show your own kids about the needs of others and Christian persecution, but your entire church body! Learn more about the Compassion Experience today.
10. Listen to Sermons
Going to a church that is hosting a visiting pastor who is delivering a message about hope through struggles is a great family-friendly way to introduce the topic of Christian persecution in a positive life-affirming way.
11. Watching the News Together
For older children, it’s important that they understand what is going on in our world. Many kids today know a LOT about their favorite show, but nothing about the crisis in the Middle East. Watching the news can bring the reality of Christian persecution to life. By watching the news together, you can help your child navigate the series of emotions and questions they might have at some the current events happening in our world.
12. Go Online
There are hundreds of testimonies and YouTube videos about Christian persecution — including the spoken word poem video (posted below) my husband and I did a few years ago for a contest. (We didn’t win, but this one did!)
I know that many parents aren’t ready to tackle the subject of Christian persecution and that’s okay. Ask God to open your heart if that is His will for your kids.
But if you do decide to wade through this tough subject don’t just let it be information in their heads, act on it!
The Bible tells us that we are to suffer with our fellow Christian who is suffering (1 Co 12:26). We can do this by praying for them. Encourage your children to pray anytime they remember the stories that you have shared with them.
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).