To help children become aware of the needs of people around the world, consider “adopting” a new country each month. Display a world map in your teaching area and show children where each country is located. Give children an idea of the customs, traditions, and culture of each country through videos, pictures, costumes, and even some food if available. Most importantly, share the spiritual needs of each country, focusing on children when possible. Consider connecting with missionaries in those countries through letters, emails, social media, or even a video chat. Enlist the help of parents, possibly asking a different family each month to introduce the new country.
If you want a more focused approach, consider adopting a single country for an entire year. This would give you even more time to get to know the missionaries personally and involve the children in a special fund-raising project for that particular country.
Another great option is to have the children create a Missions Fair for your church. This would be very similar to the adopt a country idea, but you would present all of the countries at one time in a large area and invite the entire church to visit.
Each family or group of children, would be in charge of one country. They would create a booth to highlight the culture of their particular country and the spiritual needs of the people. Create a prayer card for each country that those attending the fair could pick up at each booth. Finally, choose a particular mission need and begin fund-raising for that need at the fair.
Some others ways to raise awareness for missions include:
- Great books can spark children’s interest in missions. Look for collections of short missionary biographies with vivid illustrations that you can share with the children.
- Dress for missions. Wear costumes of the countries to be studied and provide opportunities for the children to create costumes and accessories.
- Eat the native food. If possible, let the children prepare a meal or snack that is enjoyed by the people of the country or culture being studied.
- Invite visitors from that country. Check with your local university for the names of international students. Invite them to speak to the children about their country, culture, and language.
- In the news. Encourage the children to cut out newspaper and magazine articles related to the countries being studied then share these news items with other students.
- Pen pals. Encourage the children to begin a friendship with a pen pal in another country.
- Encourage the study of languages. Teach the children songs, Scripture verses, and often-used words in other languages. Allow children who are studying another language to share a song or teach simple vocabulary.
- Keep up with what is happening among Christian missionaries and missionary movements around the world. Current events in the lives of missionaries and mission organizations will be more motivating to children than Bible stories of missionaries or historical accounts of past missionaries and mission efforts. Check out the resources section for links to those organizations.
- Recognize what’s new in missions today. A generation ago, the western church’s role in world missions was leadership. Today it is partnership. Western missionaries are now outnumbered by missionaries from Asia, South America, Africa, and Oceania. Christian missions have been extremely successful in countries such as South Korea, Africa, and Indonesia. Yet there are still thousands of people groups representing many major language groups that have no church.