I love teaching kids about missions. My children’s missions discipleship group this year is much smaller than it has been in the past — just three sweet, funny, third-grade girls — but it doesn’t matter the size of the group. What matters is if they get it. And I think they are getting it.
How I Began to “Get” Missions
I was introduced to children’s missions discipleship about seven years ago by our then-children’s pastor when my oldest was in elementary school. He and his wife had been missionaries to eastern Europe, and they were completely invested in missions work. They understood the Great Commission and the desperate need for workers. They also understood that one way to meet the need is to invest in children — discipling them, giving them opportunities to put into practice the work God has called us to do, and praying for God to grow the seeds they faithfully planted.
Now, I did not grow up Southern Baptist, and I had never heard of the WMU or Lottie or Annie. I had scant knowledge of the North American Missions Board (NAMB) and the International Missions Board (IMB). I had been on some short-term missions trips here in the States, but my concept of missions was completely incorrect.
I believed missions was something one does sometimes (as in the short-term trips once a year) or full-time (as in an international missionary). I didn’t understand that it is exactly how we are to live as Christians: If you are a follower of Christ, you are to live on mission, every day, wherever God has placed you.
Before I could help kids get it, I had to get it.
Our children’s pastor invited me to help as he taught missions discipleship on Wednesday nights. I was able to hear and experience the Missions Journey: Kids curriculum firsthand. I also saw how our children’s pastor and his wife lived intentionally on mission for Christ in their everyday life. God used my time with them to open my eyes.
I got it.
How I Now Help Kids “Get” Missions
In the missions discipleship group I lead now, in addition to supporting the North American and international missions offerings or the Christmas in August missionaries, the girls take an active role in praying for and participating in local missions, like Children’s Missions Day, or in the ones our church conducts in our community. Almost weekly we discuss where God has us right now and the people He has put in our lives and the community we live in. We remind ourselves that our community is our missions field.
I pray God grows the seeds of meeting needs and sharing the gospel in their hearts.
A few weeks ago, one of the girls in my group declared that she is going to be a missionary when she grows up. She said she wants to travel the world, and she wants to tell people about Jesus, so it makes perfect sense for her to become a missionary.
I pray God keeps growing the seeds of going and telling in her heart.
This past Sunday, as part of our children’s church time, we were discussing missionary Elisabeth Elliot and why she would want to continue to reach the Auca people (now known as the Waorani people) with the gospel, even after they had killed her husband. “Because she loved them,” one girl said after a moment’s pause. “God loves the Auca people, too,” another girl added.
I pray God will grow the seed of love for all people in their hearts.
I shared with my group about the IMB’s Project 3000, in which they will send 300 “explorers” over five years to scout out 10 unengaged, unreached people groups each year. These people groups are the last ones to hear about Christ, and it is the goal of the IMB to figure out how best to reach these groups and finish the task Jesus gave us: to spread the gospel to the “ends of the earth.”
I told the children that once we learn how to reach the people, get them Bibles in their languages, and share the gospel with them, then someone in every people group will have heard about Jesus. I watched as the eyes of one of the girls widened as she heard this. She excitedly said, “We have 100 people in our church. We can do this!” Yes, sweet girl!
I pray God will grow the seed of urgency in their hearts.
I can guarantee other children’s missions discipleship leaders have similar stories to tell about the children in their groups getting it.
Do You Get It?
What an amazing blessing we have been given, to plant these seeds about how God wants us to live on mission and to take His message to everyone — whether they are next door or far away. These little ones won’t be little much longer, and God said the harvest is plentiful.
Do you get it? Let us help add to His workers as we live on mission for Him!
Sarah Murray is the design editor for children’s resources at WMU.