There is a lot in today’s world that competes for attention and time with kids (and adults!). We are occupied (sometimes overly so) with practices, work, homework, lessons, meetings, scheduling… not to mention the essential and mandatory time needed for shopping, playing, and watching TV. With this in mind, it can be easy to grow wrapped up in our own little bubbles of being, stuck amidst obligations and worries or lost in the drama of daily life. However, we are perpetuating a dangerous trend if we fail to communicate to children the importance of the Gospel’s global
Youngsters (depending on age) may have some sort of concept of the world’s scope but do not always realize that they have the power to impact other people near and far. It is critical to not only teach our kids about those in need, but also to demonstrate how we can practically help them. It is also important to share with students that we don’t need to travel overseas or live in jungle huts to serve others. There are people in our own neighborhoods that are in want, either physically, emotionally, or spiritually. How can we do so?
The Command: Why Outreach is Important
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” -Matthew 28:18-20
Before departing from Earth, Jesus gave his disciples an ongoing task that we inherit as His followers. We are to go and tell others of Him. The commission is for ALL people…in the New Testament we see how God spreads the church and the message of Christ to Gentiles as well as Jews, and then how it spreads to people everywhere too. Universality encompasses more than nationality, though. Old and young, poor and rich, rude and gentle, criminal and careful, different faiths or lifestyles…every single human needs, deserves, and can receive God’s grace. But not all have easy access or understanding of Him. We can influence others for God and help them comprehend more.
Educating and Armchair Support
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. –Psalm 17:6
Teach children about other kids around the world and how they can help. Pictures, videos, podcasts, webinars, and more are all great for showing classes who these nations are and also how others are assisting them. Read the biography or journal of a missionary. Interview someone who has lived and worked abroad. There are many wonderful organizations that can be explored for information: Cross International, Heifer International, World Vision, UNICEF, Samaritan’s Purse, and more all offer opportunities to expand the Gospel and help other people.
Explain that people around the world live in challenging and often horrible conditions. Many cannot access clean water and never have enough food. We might not love school, but children in other countries wish they had the opportunity to gain education. Impress upon students the blessings we enjoy, but rather than feeling guilt for them, we can use them to lend aid to others.
- Perhaps your Sunday school class or church could adopt a missionary, getting to know them through letters or emails and financially supporting their work.
- Sponsor a child overseas. Have the class choose a country and kid, and then bring in offerings weekly to help with the monthly fee.
- Find pen pals in other places to learn about life there and about other people.
- Learn how to hold a church fund-raiser with fair trade coffee and/or craft products. This will support hard-working farmers and energize congregation in the process!
- Pray!!! It may seem distant or lacking in quick visible results, but the most powerful tool in aiding others is lifting them up to the Lord, whether we know specific details or just pray His will.
While it is fine and fair and fabulous to educate children and have them help from afar in small or significant ways, sometimes it is a little too easy. Kids and adults alike tend to avoid risks. Sure, we are happy to cook a meal for the homeless shelter; but serve it and talk to the people there? That’s a little scary. We’d rather pen a check for a tax write-off, but not necessarily interact with those in need. True, we need to be mindful of safety and practicality, but whenever and however possible we must also demonstrate to students what Jesus himself lived out: the best way to help is by knowing and loving and walking beside people.
- Plan a trip to a local homeless shelter or food bank and spend time with those there
- Host a free meal for those in the community who are in short supply, and have kids interact with those kids.
- Invite a non-believer (if willing) to Sunday school and host a (gentle and loving) interview.
- Make sack lunches or homemade snacks and find a way to distribute to others.
- Encourage students to sit with someone different at school or on the playground, seeking out kids who seem lonely or not as well-loved.
In doing all of this, emphasize to students that the best way to share Christ is to live out His teachings. When the opportunity arises to share the official Gospel message, that is wonderful. But shoving Bible verses down someone’s throat will accomplish nothing if they are not willing to hear or the message conveys a sense of piety or malice. We all have sinned. We all need God. We ALL can share Him with EVERYONE!
Don’t miss our other articles about getting kids interested in missions: