Face to Face: Use Technology to Connect Your Kids to Missionaries

One of the highlights for our Children in Action is having Skype sessions with missionaries serving in countries we’re studying in CA. If you’re not familiar with Skype, it is derived from the words “sky” and “peer,” and it is a free computer service that allows users to communicate with friends and family around the world via internet by using a microphone, video, and instant messaging.

Before using Skype, your computer must be equipped with a microphone and a webcam. Most newer laptop models have these devices built in, but if your computer isn’t equipped, an external microphone and camera can be purchased and easily connected. You will also need to download Skype by visiting skype.com. The website will walk you through the process of creating a Skype account and provide simple instructions to get started.

Once your computer is properly equipped and Skype has been installed, you will need to decide how to “output” your video. One option is for your kids to gather around the computer screen. Due to the screen size, however, it may be difficult for everyone to see. Our children’s ministry purchased a large flat screen with HDMI capabilities and connected it to our laptop using an HDMI cable. The TV hangs nicely on the wall and enables everyone to clearly see the missionary.

As you begin making arrangements for your Skype session, it is good to make contact with the missionary in advance so that timing, details, and the like can be worked out. Our CA group has had Skype sessions with missionaries featured in the curriculum as well as missionaries who are not featured, but one thing we see time and again is the missionaries’ willingness to carve out time to share their hearts and ministry. Not only does using Skype make missions real to our children, it also encourages those families who sacrificially live to share the gospel.

There are some things to consider as you plan your Skype session, one of which is the time zone of the missionary you plan to Skype. The missionaries our group has contacted have been more than willing to connect regardless of the time, but it is good for both parties to have a clear understanding of the time difference. You should also determine the “flow” of your Skype session prior to the session. We do not generally make our call until after the CA Pledge and announcements. When we begin our Skype session, I usually have a set of questions prepared that helps keep the conversation going. However, I don’t want to get in the way of what God has planned, so flexibility is important. I also save the last 10 minutes of the session for questions from the children. These questions are random and consist of anything and everything. This part of our call seems to be the most enjoyable from the missionary as God often reveals Himself through their questions in ways none of us expect.

In closing, as our family served Christ in India and Thailand, we experienced firsthand the gift of having the local church reach out and love on us through Skype. We are now watching the local church, specifically our Children in Action, come alive with excitement as God “takes them into the living rooms” of missionaries around the world. As you make plans to lead your group in a Skype session, be prepared for God to ignite a passion for missions in the hearts of your children through this technology called Skype.

 

Steve and Joanna Lasiter serve as the children’s ministers at Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Conway, Arkansas. They recently became grandparents.

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