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Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Practical Tips for Connecting

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Practical Tips for Connecting

Read Part 1 – Brothers, Pray for Us

Has your Sunday school class decided to support missionary kids from your church who are in the same grade? Here are some practical tips for connecting with and supporting your church’s missionaries.

Build Relationships

Whether you break out pens and paper, or become virtual pen pals, help the students in you class build relationships with the missionary kids through writing notes.

  • If you have extra time in class, write a note to or color pictures for your missionary kids. Ask them questions about what life is like where they live and let the students in your class introduce themselves. You can always scan or take a picture of their notes and email them for quick delivery.
  • Recognize special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, Easter or the end of the school year. If you are mailing a card, remember to send it early because mail can often take a long time to reach some countries.
  • Send a care package. Mail can be a challenge to get to some countries, but it is so fun for missionary kids to get a care package with a fun gift or things they miss from home. If there is a short term missions trip going to visit your missionary family, see if they have space to take a small package. Talk to the missionary kids’ parents, family or support team to find out what they like and would appreciate such as a games, crafts, school supplies, books or candy.
    If sending items is not an option, missionary kids can have fun getting an iTunes or Amazon gift card for new worship music or to watch a movie.
  • Share a photo of your class or small group and ask if your missionary kids can share photos of where they live and their everyday life.
  • Have your class record a video greeting for your missionary kids.

When given a blank piece of paper and asked to write (or color) to someone they do not know, children often do not know what to do. But, if you give them some simple prompts, they will have a lot of fun.

  • Coloring Pictures: For young children, provide pictures they can color or complete together as a small group.
    A fun option for missionary kids in sensitive countries who can not get a picture of a manger scene for Christmas, is to provide a snow scene with the basic outline of a snowman and trees. Then encourage children to work together to add like a face, scarf, buttons and snowflake stickers in the sky.
  • Get to Know You Questions: What is your name? Do you have brothers and sisters? Do you have any pets? Do you play a sport or musical instrument? What is the weather like where you live? What do you enjoy doing for fun? What is your favorite food? Where do you go to school? What are you thankful for? Have you visited any other countries? What countries would you like to visit? What makes you happy? What do you want to be when you grow up.
  • Faith Questions: What is your favorite verse? What is your favorite Bible story and why? What evidences of God’s grace have you seen in your life? How have you seen God’s glory in nature this week? What have your learned in Sunday school (favorite attribute of God, promise of God, name of God, etc.). What has God been teaching you in your devotions? 

Learn About Their Country

To help you better understand what life is like for your missionary kids as well as who they are ministering to, it can be very helpful to spend some time learning about the country they live in. You can ask a small group to research and put together a short report on the country; read short missionary stories or biographies; invite someone who has visited or lived in the country to come and talk; or ask your missionary kids questions about their life.
Read this post for some recommended books and resources.

Support Their Ministry

Another important aspect of supporting missionary families is financially. Help teach children about the importance of being cheerful givers and help them experience the joy of partnering with a ministry. Set a goal of how much money you want to raise depending on the age of your children and the size of your class. You may want to encourage kids to do some extra odd jobs at home so you can raise 10 dollars as a class. Or, you class may want to host a fundraiser to buy items that will help the the missionary family’s ministry such as Bibles, school supplies, clean water or goats.

Welcome Missionaries Home on Furlough

It is so exciting when our missionary families return on furlough and our church has the chance to bless and encourage them in person as well as hear about their ministry in person.

  • Welcome your missionary kid to your class!
  • Help host a welcome home party or open house to welcome them and help your missionary kid get to know your class.
  • Ask the missionary family to visit your class and give a short presentation about their ministry.
  • Put together a care package for your missionary kid with some toys or activities they can do while they are stateside.
  • Continue to pray for them as they travel and adjust to life in a temporary place.

 

Please remember to be sensitive to the political situation of each country your missionary families are in as you write or talk about them. To protect the safety of many missionaries, you may need to be very careful with certain terminology, names and locations. Please double check your missionary’s specific guidelines by talking with your church’s missions department or the missionary’s sending agency.

 

 

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Brothers, Pray for Us

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Brothers, Pray for Us

What is a missionary? Where do they live? What are they doing in a different country? Are their kids like me? Why do we need to pray for missionaries?

Can the children in your Sunday school classes answer these questions?

For many children, it is hard to understand the world outside their city, let alone in a different country. As teachers and parents, we have the opportunity to instill a passion in our children to spread the Gospel to others in their everyday life and to over 1200 unreached people groups around the world. As the church, we have the honor of sending and supporting missionaries along with their children.

One way to combine these goals of educating the children in our church and supporting our missionary families is to adopt missionary kids into the classroom to get to know them, learn more about their family’s ministry and consistently support them in prayer.

To start with, find out which missionary families your church supports and what grades their children are in.

  • If you are in a larger church with multiple missionary kids in each grade, assign one or two to each small group. This helps the students in your class build deeper relationships with the missionary kids and focus their prayers.
  • If you only have a few missionary kids, you could pray for each child as a class.
  • If there are no missionary kids in your grade, consider adopting a missionary without children who could use some extra encouragement. Or, choose an unreached people group or country to focus learning about and praying for.

It can be helpful to choose a team member in your class to champion this project and be the main communicator with the missionary families. Have them contact the missionaries to welcome the missionary kids into your class and begin getting to know the families. Be sure to sign up for their regular prayer letters or email updates so you have the latest information on how to support the families.

Supporting Missionary Kids from the Classroom: Brothers, Pray for UsPrayer is one of the easiest and most important ways to support missionary families. Some general prayers that all missionaries need include: for the Gospel to be spread through their ministry, that they will be protected from the attacks of Satan, for protection in travels and everyday life in a different country, peace within their family, a good school and friends for their children, guidance in countless decisions, and unwavering faith.

Here are a few ways for your class remember to pray for your missionary kids:

  • Hang up a map or bulletin board in your classroom with pictures of each of the missionary families in your classroom and show the country or general area they live in.
  • Put a picture of the missionary kid each small group is praying for on the lid of their small group supply box to help remind them to pray each week during small group time.
  • Set aside time as a whole class once a month to spend a few minutes in prayer for all of the missionary kids.
  • Make bookmarks or cards with the missionary kid’s photo and specific prayer requests for children in your class to take home and put in their Bible or on their refrigerator so they can pray for the missionaries with their family during the week and over the summer.

Read Part 2 of this post for some practical tips on how you can teach your class more about missions and simple ideas for connecting with your missionary kids.

Please remember to be sensitive to the political situation of each country your missionary families are in as you write or talk about them. To protect the safety of many missionaries, you may need to be very careful with certain terminology, names and locations. Please double check your missionary’s specific guidelines by talking with your church’s missions department or the missionary’s sending agency.

 

 

The World’s Largest Puzzle and Its Infinitely Wise Creator

The World’s Largest Puzzle and Its Infinitely Wise Creator

This summer, my family and I stopped by America’s biggest puzzle store during a family adventure. Inside, puzzles covered tables and shelves, were fitted in special cases that lined the entire ceiling and were tucked in every nook and cranny. There were beginner toddler puzzles with two pieces, kids puzzles with firetrucks and princesses, 1000 piece puzzles of historical events, and 3000 pieces puzzles of beautiful nature scenes. Then we saw the big puzzle…32,356 pieces. The finished puzzle measured 17 feet by 6 feet and weighed more than 40 pounds. Many people have said a puzzle this size takes six months to a year to complete.

To me, attempting a puzzle that size is, well, puzzling. But, what if the the whole world—dirt, mountains, oceans, trees, flowers, sky, animals, birds, insects—was a puzzle you had to put together? Oh, and it is not a normal puzzle. It is one of those 3-D puzzles with moving pieces. You have to add layer upon layer to your puzzle to piece together each person along with every circumstance they will ever face. That is unimaginable.

O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
—Psalm 104:24a

In The ABCs of God curriculum, Jill Nelson asks children:

What does it mean that God is wise? It means that He causes everything to work out perfectly. It is as if the world is like a giant puzzle with millions of pieces. God made each piece, and all the pieces fit together in order to make the world just as God planned it. God doesn’t make any mistakes. Because He is wise, EVERYTHING turns out exactly as He has planned it.

When we look at our lives, often all we can see is a mountain of puzzle pieces that do not seem to fit together. It is not our job to determine how each the piece of our life fits together or why we were given certain pieces. We need to trust that God is infinitely wise in each detail of our lives, especially when bad things happen or circumstances do not make sense.

In his sermon, “The Great Work of the Only Wise God,” Pastor John Piper defines wisdom this way:

Wisdom DefinitionWisdom is knowing what the greatest goal is in any situation, and what the best way is to achieve it. It’s different from knowledge, but it assumes knowledge. They overlap. You can’t exercise wisdom without knowledge; because in order to figure out the best way to achieve a goal, you have to have knowledge of many factors. On the other hand, you can have a lot of knowledge and not have wisdom. There are many brilliant fools. And many less-educated sages.

But we are talking about God’s wisdom, not ours. The difference is that he always knows the best goal in every situation, and he always has total and perfect knowledge of billions and billions of relevant factors in every situation that enable him to know the best way to achieve the goal.

Next time you sit down with your child to work on a puzzle, take time to discuss who is the master puzzle-maker who creates and fits together diverse pieces to reveal His perfect plan in creation and achieve his goals. You may also want to teach your children this song to remind them who alone is wise.

God Alone Is Wise

by John Piper
Sung to the tune of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”

God alone is full of wisdom,
God alone knows every end,
God alone plans every pathway,
More than we can comprehend
Infinite! His wisdom soars,
High above our peace and wars,
Grasping all the mysteries,
Governing the galaxies.
Infinite! Our God is wise!
Let our boast in him arise!

Wise! He saves the lowly sinner.
Wise! He keeps his covenant.
Wise! His ways at Calvary
Silence ev’ry argument.
By his blood and righteousness
Jew and gentile he will bless.
None shall boast in any man,
All shall marvel at his plan.
Infinite! Our God is wise!
Let our boast in him arise.

 

 

 

Mommy… Daddy… I’m Sad

Mommy... Daddy... I'm Sad

In between deep sobs, the voice of a caring mother is heard. “Gilbert, what’s wrong?”
With tears streaming down his face he replies, “Mommy, I’m sad.”
“Gilbert, why are you sad?”
“I can’t find nite-nite!” …Or, “I want to play with my cars longer.” Or, “I don’t want to leave Grandma and Grandpa’s house.”

To my 2-year-old nephew who is learning how to express his emotions in words, these sad situations feel very hard to him. Unfortunately, there will soon be a day when his tears and sorrow do not stem from something as simple as a lost blanket or shortened play time.

Your child may be saying “I’m sad” as they try to figure out why kids were mean to them at school. Why did my friend lie to me? Why does mom have cancer? Why was dad laid off from his job? Why does my sister have down syndrome? Why did our house get flooded in a hurricane? Why is there poverty and hunger in the world? What do words like terrorism, bombings, mass shootings and racial tensions mean? Why are Christians being killed for their faith? Why does God let bad things happen in the world? Why did God do this to me? Does God love me?

It is not a question of if your children will experience suffering, but when will your child experience suffering…and will his faith be strengthened or weakened through it? 

In a recent Ask Pastor John post, John Piper shared these three steps to prepare your children for suffering:

1. Teach your son a glorious, all-encompassing biblical worldview that puts suffering in its proper place.
2. Discipline him with appropriate firmness, and require of him self-denial.

3. Model for him trust and joy in the midst of your own suffering and sorrow.

As Pastor Piper expounded on these three steps, several points stood out to me. The first reinforces what my first grade class is studying in The ABCs of God. This month, they are learning that God is wise—He causes everything to workout perfectly; God is almighty—He is all-powerful; and God is sovereign—He has the right and wisdom and power to do all that He pleases. Here’s how Pastor Piper explains it:

God is sovereign, and nothing can stop him from doing what he wants to do most. “I am God, and there is none like me . . . saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’” (Isaiah 46:9-10). He is stronger than the weather. He is stronger than storms and floods and lightning. He is stronger than animals: big ones that can attack you like lions and little teeny microscopic ones you can’t even see that can make you sick and even kill you. He is stronger than all the enemies that we have. He is stronger than everything. Children need to hear this. They get it. They will embrace it more quickly than we do, and they can handle the mysteries. Yes, they can. Don’t ever give the impression to your children that suffering exists because God is helpless.

John Piper Quote on SufferingKids do get it. Children studying My Purpose Will Stand learn it this way: “God is present and active in all creation. His eye is watching, His hand is working to uphold and govern all creation, to fulfill all His purposes for His glory and the good of His children.” God did not wind us up like a clock and step back to watch. He is not surprised by the decisions we make. God is not helpless. He has planned and is in control of every detail of our lives, including our suffering.

It is also crucial to teach children how God displays his glory through the Gospel as they learn to understand why suffering exists and why it effects them. I am thankful these following truths are woven into each of our curricula.

Make the gospel crystal-clear: God sent his Son into the world to suffer with us and for us. This means that, if we trust him, none of our suffering is punishment for sin. Christ bore all of our punishment for sin. That is the basis of our acceptance with God and our hope for heaven. And there will be no more suffering there. All the suffering, therefore, that comes into the life of a Christian is not because God is punishing him in his wrath—oh, let children understand this!—but, rather, it is God’s fatherly discipline for the sake of holiness as Hebrews 12:3-11 and 1 Peter 1:5 says.

Therefore, in all of our suffering, God is good. God is wise. God is loving, even though it’s painful, and he has purposes for us (Romans 8:28). We never explain suffering by saying God is helpless or that Satan got the upper hand or that there are mere accidents in the world. We always handle suffering, our suffering by saying, even though we don’t understand all the answers for why this particular suffering came or that particular suffering came at this particular time or this particular intensity—we don’t understand those particulars—nevertheless, we do understand what God has taught us; namely, that he is sovereign, that he is good, and that he always has purposes for our everlasting joy.

I strongly encourage you to listen to or read Pastor Piper’s entire post: How Do We Prepare Our Children for Suffering. He closes with these words:

The greatest challenge of parenting is not primarily remembering all the things that should be taught in the catechism, but primarily being a parent growing in grace and humility and trust and joy in all the ups and downs of life. Few things will have a greater power in our children’s lives to help them suffer as Christians.

Recommended Resources

If you would like to look at specific resources that help teach children about the sovereignty of God, the glorious truth of the Gospel and how to deal with suffering, we recommend the following:

God’s Providence: A family devotional guide

My Purpose Will Stand: A study for 6th grade students on the providence of God

Helping Children to Understand the Gospel: A resource for parents with 10 family devotions

Catechism: Out of Date or a Tried and True Teaching Tool of Eternal Truths: A seminar by Sally Michael

 
 

What Do You Want Your Child to Look Like 50 Years from Now?

What Do You Want Your Children to Look Like 50 Years from Now?

In the midst of a world in turmoil, it is the responsibility of parents and the church to partner together to train children to be strong in faith and mighty in Spirit. In his seminar, Teaching Children to Stand Firm in a Hostile Culture, Pastor Ron Rudd explains three areas children need to be trained in so they are prepared to stand firm through the years.

 

 

How do we want our children to look in 10, 20, 40 or 50 years from now? We pray that their hearts will love God. That they exhibit godly character. That they obey God’s Word. That they put their hope in God. We pray that our children’s future will be spent living for a higher goal—God’s glory.

 

Committed to Our Calling as Parents

 

Training Children to Stand Firm in a Hostile Culture

We encourage you to listen to the full seminar to learn more about the problems we face in our culture; the responsibilities of parents and the church; our part and God’s part of the plan to teach our children; and our ultimate end goal.

Watch the Seminar

Download the Notes

 

 

 

Introducing Our NEW Student Buttons

 

Students studying a Midweek Bible curriculum from Children Desiring God are encouraged to earn Student Buttons by completing four special projects during the study.

The age-appropriate projects are designed to reinforce the truths students are being taught in class. They include memorizing the books of the Bible, memorizing Scripture, reading books, doing devotions, collecting items from nature to reveal the greatness of God and more.

 

Student Buttons

 

The new Student Buttons feature a clean, modern look. We are also excited to announce that they are more affordable for churches than our classic Button and Badges Sets. The four, 1 1/2 inch buttons are perfect for children to display on backpacks or church bags!

Choose a curriculum below to learn more and see the buttons up close!
If you have questions, please give us a call at 877.400.1414 or write info@childrendesiringGod.org.

He Has Been Clearly Seen

I Stand in Awe

The Way of the Wise

Fight the Good Fight

 

Classic Button and Badges Sets on Sale

If you are still interested our Classic Buttons and Badges Sets, they are on sale for $25 (includes sets for 5 students). They be available to order on the curriculum pages only while supplies last.

 

 

 

Team Leaders, How’s Your Team?

Team Leaders, How's Your Team

Team Leaders, you have a special role in serving alongside and leading a team of children’s ministry volunteers in your classroom. Here are five practical ways you can connect with your teachers, small group leaders, worship leaders and helpers in order to develop stronger relationships and support them through the school year. Try one or more ideas to show them Christ, encourage them in their role in your class and to challenge them to let Christ be seen in them.

1. Weekly Pre-Class Prayer and Preparation

Encourage your team to arrive 10-15 minutes before you start welcoming children into the classroom. This gives you time to talk with your team about what will be happening during class, give any last minute instructions for the morning and most importantly, pray for the children in your class to have minds to hear and hearts to respond to the truths they will be taught that day. It is also a great time for your team to share personal prayer requests and pray for any families in the class who have requested prayer. Arriving early also gives teachers times to finish setting up visuals and review their lesson material one last time, and for small group leaders to set up their tables and be ready to welcome the students.

2. One-on-One Touch Points

Aim to chat with one or two of your team members one-on-one each week for just a couple minutes. Check in on how their morning went, encourage them on something they did well, give them advice on what they could improve on and ask if there is anything else you can do to support them in their role.

3. Occasional Post-Class Debrief

Gather your team together after class for 15-20 minutes to discuss how things in class are going. This is especially helpful to do for small group leaders several times in the first couple months of class, and then occasionally through the rest of the year. This is a good time to discuss as a team what is going well in your class and what struggles your team is facing. It is neat to see team members help one another with ideas as well as see ways they can support each other with prayer.

4. Evening of Encouragement

If your team is feeling weary midway through the year, it can be refreshing to invite your team an evening of encouragement—bless them with a devotional, worship together, share evidences of God’s grace you have seen in the classroom and pray for strength to continue serving your children well. This can also be incorporated with the next idea.

5. Sunday School Social

Enjoy getting to know your team and their families! Children’s ministry is a great way to get to know others in your church and develop a community with the people you serve alongside. Help your team bond with each other and strengthen teamwork by planning several social gatherings during the year. Some ideas include a family picnic or fall bonfire, going out for coffee or dessert, hosting a couples dinner or a dessert evening in your home, having a potluck or ordering in pizza after class.

Bonus Idea: Feed Your Team

An easy way to show love to your team is to treat them to every once in a while just for fun. Celebrate a perfect fall day with some apple muffins, encourage conversation during a post-class debrief with cookies or help your team prepare for an especially busy morning with strong coffee and chocolate.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all at once. Whichever approach you take to connect with your them, be sure your team knows that they are loved, prayed for and appreciated as you work together to help the next generation know and cherish their Savior!

Team Leaders, How's Your Team

Romeo and Juliet. Gospel and Doctrine.

Romeo and Juliet. Gospel and Doctrine...and the importance of catechism

Simplifying the Gospel is like simplifying the story of Romeo and Juliet. If you simply tell the story as “Two mixed-up teenagers fall in love and end up dead,” you loose the depth of the story. The background of the feuding families, the secret marriage, Romeo’s banishment and the sleeping potion Juliet took gives the story meaning and heart.

If we fail to teaching the whole counsel of God to the next generation, we remove the depth and meaning from their faith. If all they have is simplistic Bible truths—just love Jesus and believe in the cross—how will our children’s faith stand strong when they are confronted with the skepticism of our culture?

In our zeal to preach the gospel, we can often overlook or ignore the doctrinal foundations that lead to an understanding of the preciousness of the cross. In our zeal to evangelize, we must not forget that the main purpose of the organized church is to make disciples who will evangelize the nations.

One of the best ways to teach children solid doctrine is through catechesis. This is an intense, intentional, systematic, doctrinal teaching which imparts our beliefs about God, our communion with God and our obedience with God. Catechetical instruction normally employs the Socratic method of teaching through questions and answers. By utilizing the art of asking questions to stimulate critical thinking, the resulting discussion can encourage reasoning, the discovery of logical relationships, the illumination of further understanding and ultimately, the embracing of the truths discovered.

There are a variety of catechisms which present a series of questions and answers pertaining to Christian faith. Almost all of them are based on the creed and confessions of the church and they communicate these truths—what the church believes to be true about God, the Bible, the message of the Bible and its major themes about man, Christ and salvation.

Catechetical teaching is not boring, rote memorization. It is designed to not only teach the mind, but to effect our heart, affections and actions. Studying a catechism with your child will encourage you both in critical thinking, discussion and investigation of the Bible. If taught properly, it will not leave your children with parroted answers to random questions, but an understanding, learning and embracing of the truth of the Gospel and the doctrines of the Bible.

To learn more about catechism and how to teach it, watch to Sally Michael’s complete seminar:

Catechism: Out of Date or a Tried and True Teaching Tool of Eternal Truths

Watch Seminar

Download Seminar Handouts

Sally Michael Quote on Catechism

Round-Up: Encouragement for Teachers and Parents of Youth

Youth Ministry

Here is a collection of our favorite articles written in the past few years to encourage youth pastors, mentors and parents. Check out the links below for advice on partnering with parents, developing a vision for your ministry, fighting the fight of faith and planting roots of faith that will last beyond the teen years.

Youth Ministry as a Bridge

What Will Win Your Youth?

Centering Youth on the Word

A Genuine Parent and Youth Ministry Partnership

The Importance of Parents in Youth Ministry

Youth Ministry: Set Apart or A Part

Already Relevant

Abusing “Jesus Loves Me”?

We Need the Wisdom of the Past

Preparing Teens for the Great Battle

 

 

Now Available: The Fighter Verses Study, Part D

Fighter Verses

The Fighter Verses Study, Part DDo you long to have the Word of God engraved on your soul; to be instructed, counseled, and convicted by Scripture; to have your worldview shaped by the Word, and not by the World? Memorizing the Word makes it possible to meditate on the Word, which carries the potential of shaping our thinking and our affections.

The Fighter Verses Study is a devotional for families, small groups, classes and individuals. Each week’s lesson is based on a verse or short passage that will equip you to “fight the fight of faith.” A series of questions, which can be answered personally or discussed in a group, will lead you to a better understanding of the verses. You will be challenged with application questions, inspired by prayer points and encouraged to journal and memorize the passage.

The Fighter Verses Study, Park D is the final quarterly installment of the year-long study and includes 13 lessons. The verses studied, which mirror Set 1 of the Fighter Verses Bible Memory program, include:

Titus 3:4-6 (Work of Christ)
Isaiah 46:9-10 (Sovereignty of God)
Proverbs 1:10 (Battling Sin)
Proverbs 3:5-6 (Trusting God)
Proverbs 19:11 (Battling Anger)
John 15:5 (Life in Christ)
John 14:2-3 (Eternity)
Psalm 125:1-2 (Trusting God)
Psalm 141:3-4 (Speech)
1 John 1:8-9 (Battling Sin)
Psalm 23 (Guidance of God)

Each quarter of The Fighter Verses Study is a stand alone part that can be done in any order. Feel free to start with Part D to coincide with the Fighter Verses schedule, start the year-long study now or pick and choose the a part that features your family’s favorite verse or a theme you want to study together.

Learn more about The Fighter Verses Study

Download a Sample of the Study

View the Scope & Sequence for Part D

Order Now!

We pray that The Fighter Verses Study Part D will help you, your family or your small group discover the joy of mining the Word of God as you learn together to observe, interpret and personally apply it. And may God’s Word be imprinted on your mind and firmly established in your heart!

 

 

 

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