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Tips for Keeping Older Kids Engaged in Missions Education

As you have probably noticed, kids have short attention spans. Often, a large dose of creativity is required to keep their attention for even a few minutes at a time.

A practical way to keep older kids engaged in missions education is by varying presentation methods. This takes time and preparation. As the missions leader, you must plan ahead to provide an assortment of informational items.

You can use the Internet to show videos about the focus country or people group. This is a great way to find a wealth of information, but be sure to preview any search results beforehand to avoid inappropriate material. Some older kids may be interested in becoming pen pals with a group of children or MKs in another country. As the leader, you can use social media to facilitate these interactions!

Don’t be afraid of trying foods from the area you are focusing on. Recipes are readily available and sometimes include suggestions for substitutions if something unusual is not accessible at your local grocery store. Kids will be delighted to try different dishes, especially if you eat it first!

Growing as a Leader: Look Outside and Inside

As a teenager in a small Baptist church, I was often given opportunities to grow as a leader. I may not have had the deepest understanding of preschool development, but the church was desperate for someone to “teach the Beginners” in Church Training. I was willing. Advice from a wise longtime teacher encouraged me: “Joyce, act like you know what you’re doing with the children.” So I did. Both the Beginners and I survived.

“Act like” in this context means to assume the role. Call to mind a vision of a more experienced leader, and put yourself in her shoes. Do what you imagine Mrs. B would do.   

Since those early days of trying on various leadership roles, I’ve discovered that leadership can often be reduced—and more easily understood—in terms of a balance between inner and outer.

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Step 1: Prayer

As much as I hate to admit it, many times my prayers closely resemble the Christmas lists I used to mail to Santa as a child—a list of very selfish wants and needs. While my requests to God have matured just as I have, they still very often revolve around me: “Lord, help me focus so I can ace this test,” or “give me the patience to deal with my co-workers.”

When I do extend my circle of prayer, it is usually to include my friends and family who I know have a relationship with Jesus Christ. But what about those who don’t? Why is it so important to pray for those who don’t yet know of God’s love, and how do we do it?

God is working in people’s lives long before they hear the gospel. That work continues with our prayers. It is the catalyst that ignites the desire to know God. When spreading the gospel, we are engaging in spiritual warfare. Prayer is one of the greatest weapons we have when fighting the enemy (Eph. 6:16–18).

Meet the Writer: Celeste Albaugh

I have always loved traveling, meeting people from other cultures, and exploring places around the world. This passion came from having been born in Great Britain and growing up as a military kid; my dad served in the United States Air Force for 26 years.

We moved every 3 ½ years of my life, and I attended 8 different schools. When we lived in California, I woke up early on Saturday morning, like any 6-year-old, to watch cartoons. However, this particular morning was different. The cartoons didn’t interest me. Instead, a TV show called The Treehouse Club by Child Evangelism Fellowship piqued my interest. After watching the show, while my parents were asleep, I started my personal relationship with Jesus.

In the various churches we attended as a family, I saw my parents model the importance of serving the Lord.

Encouraging the "Thanks" in Thanksgiving

I love this time of year. The leaves turn many shades of beautiful, people wrap themselves in comfortable sweaters, and something about the air feels different as it turns crisp and cool. The fall season sets itself apart in beauty and the promise of something new. It’s a time to think about the past year and what God has done in our lives.

November is my favorite month—and not just because it’s my birthday month (shout out to my fellow November birthdays!). This month is the time when we give thanks for the many provisions, blessings, lessons, and growing moments God has given us. With Thanksgiving in our line of sight, why not start counting our blessings a little early?

Put the beauty of November to good use as you spend this month focusing on thankfulness. Teach your GAs, RAs, and CAs about the meaning of thankfulness and why we give praise and glory to God for everything from joys to hardships. Try these ideas to get your kids into a spirit of thankfulness as November kicks off:

Growing Toward God

Looking at the Bible together

The first 5 years in a child’s life are crucial, as these are the years of the most growth both physically and mentally. Their personalities are set during this time as they grow emotionally. Preschoolers’ social development is also enormous during these years as they learn language skills and how to relate to others. If growth in all of these areas is of such importance during the preschool years, it stands to reason that their growth spiritually is also crucial during these years. What a privilege we are given to have a part in guiding preschoolers’ spiritual growth. Our purpose in teaching preschoolers about missions is to lead them in developing a heart for missions so that a missions mind-set becomes part of their lifestyle.

Catching Up with Donna Shelenhamer

WMU is honored to interview Donna Shelenhamer, a longtime Girls in Action leader. Donna has taught Girls in Action for 52 years and counting. She felt a calling to missions when she was young and wanted to share her passion, so she began teaching first- and second-grade GA groups and fifth-grade boys in Sunday School. Her most vivid memory from teaching GA is something that occurs at every recognition service: she always says, “This is the best group I’ve ever had!” and genuinely means it every year.

We All Need Redemption sidebar

Pastor David Tarkington shared this additional advice and resources about gender-identity issues as a supplement to the article on page 24 of December 2017 Missions Mosaic.

As parents of children with gender-identity issues, remember

  1. It’s not your fault. I emphasize this reality to Christian parents who have done the very best they knew how to raise their children in the ways of the Lord.
  2. To trust God. He loves your child more than you ever have or can.
  3. To love your child. This may be the most challenging aspect of the journey. Remember that loving your child does not mean affirming sin.
  4. Prayer is vital.
  5. God is good. God is great. He is not taken by surprise, though you were. Trust Him.

Remember God knows grief and will stay in the valley with you until you make it through.

Resources

Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan

Plan a Prayer for the Nations Night

Antarctica. That was what was printed on the folded-up sheet of paper I pulled from the cup on a small-group retreat once, and we all had a good laugh.

The 7 of us had each drawn a continent to pray for, and that was mine. But as we began to talk about it, we brainstormed who that could be. We talked about the scientists there who might not know Christ. We moved on to people in cold places in other parts of the world—Scandinavia, Siberia, Greenland, and so on. We went in a circle for quite some time, and when it got around to me, I lifted them all up.

That might not have been the most conventional way to pray for the lost around the world, but it’s one I haven’t forgotten even years later. And I think that tactic, while unusual, accomplished something. It made me remember those people. I still pray for them when Antarctica gets mentioned in conversation or in a movie. I still remember the people in all the cold places of the world.

Praying God’s Heart

Prayer is such a privilege. How amazing that we as humans are gifted with a connection to God, the ability to communicate with Him. What a mystery that the Creator of the universe somehow hears us. He listens to our concerns, our hurts, our dreams. He hears what is on our hearts. And He responds.

What about Him? What is on His heart?

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