You’ve seen the terms *Names changed and special worker. Both terms are used to protect special workers living in high security areas. We call these workers special workers and use *Names changed to let you know that we are keeping special workers safe by giving them pseudonyms.
Given the world’s changing social climate, we must be diligent in protecting the identities of many of our special workers. We understand that this presents a unique challenge for Mission Friends leaders. How can you teach preschoolers about special workers when you cannot show a picture or give a real name? How do you communicate that some special workers serve in difficult locations without frightening preschoolers with too much graphic information?
Use these five suggestions as you teach about a special worker whose name has been changed:
Simply use the pseudonym assigned by the mission board. When you are praying, God knows exactly who you are praying for, and what that person needs at the moment.
Check out picture books or obtain online images about the general area you are studying. Seeing pictures will give your preschoolers concrete images that will form a foundation for understanding how and where the special workers serve.
Turn your preschoolers’ attention to the vocations of special workers. Talk about why doctors, nurses, and dentists are needed, or how a computer programmer or teacher could also be a special worker. Talk about ways the special workers use their careers to tell others about God’s love. Ask preschoolers to think of other jobs and brainstorm how people in those jobs can tell people about God’s love.
Emphasize how we all need to tell others about God’s love as we go about our everyday lives. Share how special workers can make friends at coffee shops, gyms, and even local grocery stores and markets. Use this concept as a springboard to discuss ways that preschoolers can make friends and invite them to church.
If you choose to tell your Mission Friends that the special workers’ names have been changed, be prepared for questions. Answer simply. Share that the special worker serves where some people do not love God and do not want others to love God. Never burden preschoolers with disturbing ideas. Ask your preschoolers to pray for people who do not want to know God.
Step away from the details and focus for a moment on the big picture. Through Mission Friends, preschoolers develop their understanding of God’s love for people of all races and nationalities. They hear Bible thoughts that teach them about Jesus and their world. They learn about the needs of people throughout the world and the ways that those needs are being met by people who care. As you focus on these broader concepts, remember that, even if you cannot share a special worker’s real name, you have the unique opportunity to lay a foundation of love for missions as you lead preschoolers to pray for special workers, to give to missions, and to be involved in missions.
Never forget that your work is a stepping-stone in your preschoolers’ paths toward a life-long commitment to missions.
by Robin McCall and Angie Quantrell