When I look around at the way our nation is raising its children, I see a lot of kids who are growing up thinking the world revolves around them. I see children who are led to believe that they can have everything they want and that they are all that matters in life.
While I want my children to know that they are loved, I want to do all that I can to keep them aware of the needs around them. If all I ever do is give them what they want and if my top concern is keeping them happy, then chances are, they are not going to learn this.
For Vacation Bible School this past week, I had the opportunity to teach about the persecution that goes on in North Korea. I taught Kindergarten – Third Graders. As I was preparing my materials, it hit me that I need to start teaching my children these important truths now. It may seem a little overboard to think about teaching toddlers about our Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering as Christians around the world. But I think this is where we get caught in the trap of not making it a priority.
Our kids aren’t going to just, all of the sudden, start caring about the needs of the people around them. I think it has to be a lifestyle modeled by their parents. If we wait until our children are at an “appropriate age”, we may miss out on learning opportunities right now. I want my children to grow up knowing that we are supposed to be praying for our Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering for Christ. More than that, I want them to know that Jesus wants us to love others and to help others learn more about Christ. If I am not making this an important priority right now, what makes me think that I will make it a priority in the future?
Perhaps we are lacking in this area because our churches, and we ourselves, are lacking in this area. Instead of taking it upon ourselves to become aware of the needs around the world and to do something about it, we have turned our backs and used the excuse that we’re not “called” to do that: “Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell. We owe Christ to the world…we are in debt to the nations. Encompassed with this debt, though, in our contemporary approach to missions, we have subtly taken ourselves out from under the weight of a lost and dying world, wrung our hands in pious concern, and said, ‘I’m sorry. I’m just not called to do that.’ The result is tragic. A majority of individuals supposedly saved from eternal damnation by the gospel are now sitting back and making excuses for not sharing that gospel with the rest of the world. But what if we don’t need to sit back and wait for a call to foreign missions? What if the very reason we have breath is because we have been saved for a global mission? And what if anything less than passionate involvement in global mission is actually selling God short by frustrating the very purpose for which He created us?” (Radical by David Platt)
As this quote says, we owe Christ to the world! If people have not heard, we need to do something about it, and we need to pray for those who are experiencing persecution as they try to take a stand for Christ.
So, how can I begin NOW to show my kids (and myself) the importance of reaching the world for Christ?
- Join Operation World’s Prayer Movement
By joining their prayer movement, you can receive daily prayer reminders for a different country or need somewhere in the world. By doing this, it keeps us aware of the needs of the countries around us and through our prayers, we can change lives and nations. We can also use these prayer reminders to share with our children so that they can learn to pray for the nations as well. Go to http://www.operationworld.org/join-prayer-movement to join.
- Plan to go on a Mission Trip
This may seem like an impossible task with small children at home, but it is definitely something to pray about. Maybe just one spouse can go each year, but this is a way to broaden our view of the needs around us and a way to be obedient by taking the gospel to “the ends of the earth.” This summer, my husband will be leaving me to go to Honduras. While I wish I could go too, I know that this will be an awesome opportunity for Him to grow in his faith and make an impact on the lives of others. Hopefully I will get a chance to do this in the future.
- Help Support a Missionary
Support for a missionary can be in lots of different ways. Sign up to receive a monthly newsletter for a missionary so you can pray for them. Send them a care package. When we served as missionaries in Naples for a year, I remember greatly missing a few American items such as peanut butter, Dr. Pepper, specialty cereals, etc. When we received a care package with these things in them, it made our day! Or, think about supporting a missionary family financially. My husband’s brother and his family (BJ and Jill, along with their two young daughters) are in training to be missionaries in Papua New Guinea. They will be raising their own support and are in great need of supporters! Visit their blog at http://blogs.ntm.org/bj-sanders/.
- Read and Share Stories of the Hardships of Others
I was amazed at how well my groups listened to the stories I presented this past week during VBS. When they are hearing about other young children who are risking their lives for Christ, it makes such an impact on their lives. Look for stories of children who are choosing to live for Christ and share these stories with your children.
- Save Money to Help Others Out
As Americans, we tend to spend more money when we make more money. But, how about save more money as we make more money? Or, cut out things in your life that you could do without? This can also make a huge impact on our children. For example, if you usually go get ice-cream together once a week, cut out that time and tell your children that you’re saving money to help others. Then, decide what something you’d like to spend your money on and talk to your children about it. Maybe you can save to go on an overseas mission trip or to support a missionary financially. God will show us how to give our money, but we have to have money to give first.
As we think about teaching our children to care about the needs of others, it can seem overwhelming. This is mostly because it is such a big challenge for us as well. It is hard to take the focus off of ourselves (our families, our friends, our church, our children) and shift our focus to the needs of others. But, as we begin to take steps in that direction, it will get easier and easier because God will begin to change the desires of our hearts. May we all take steps away from ourselves and toward our Mighty God and Savior. And, may we teach our children to do the same.