by Marcia Washburn, The Old Schoolhouse
As Christian parents, we are eager for our children to serve God wholeheartedly. Our mission is to help our children develop their God-given life messages and to learn how He wants them to share these messages with the world.
In a sense, we are all missionaries. We are all commanded to make disciples of all nations, and that includes our own country. But a recent Barna poll1 states that just 17 percent of US churchgoers have ever even heard of the Great Commission2 or know what it means. Here are some ways to develop a mission mindset in your children.
Sparking Interest in Missions
In age-appropriate ways, share what is happening around the world to expand your children’s understanding of life beyond their family, church, and neighborhood.3
Let your children see through your words and actions that you are mission minded. Read monthly newsletters from missionaries whom you support and pray together for them. Host them in your home when they are passing through.
Read missionary biographies aloud together and have easier-to-read versions available for your children.4 Don’t limit your study to just one era—include those from the Early Church all the way through Corrie Ten Boom, Brother Andrew, and those serving right now. You might focus on just one missionary each month as a family.
Assemble a family prayer notebook that features different people groups each day: immediate family, our country, church/homeschool friends, missionaries, and extended family. The Praying Around the World book5 can be used along with your geography lessons.
Teach your children a foreign language at a young age while their brains are still in the language acquisition stage.
Host a mini missions conference with your homeschool group. Ask each family to focus on a single missionary, country, or period in history.
Dig into a missionary’s life and motivation by producing a skit or play about him or her.
Learn to share your faith with others. If you aren’t involved in evangelism in your home country, you will find it difficult to win those from another culture.
Participate in Operation Christmas Child (www.samaritanspurse.org/operation christmas-child/mission-and-history).
Enroll your children in The Greatest Journey (www.samaritanspurse.org/operation christmas-child/the-greatest-journey-united-states).6
Encourage your children to save money to buy farm animals for a poor family7 or support an orphan as a family. Be sure the ministries you support are reputable.8
Ways to Serve
Local opportunities: Serve neighbors or make meals for new moms. Sing at senior centers and nursing homes. Purchase gifts for prisoners’ children through Angel Tree (www.prisonfellowship.org/about/angel-tree).
Short-term opportunities: Our sons were forever changed by serving in Mexico as they reflected on how happy the orphans were even though they “had nothing.” Serving internationally? Don’t take away from locals’ income or incentive by doing something that locals can do for themselves. Use your practical skills in technology, clerical work, architectural design, or medical areas to support the work of resident missionaries. For example, my husband regularly visits Ecuador to help keep a small hydroelectric plant running; it produces electricity to support on-going Bible translation in the jungle.
Watch for unusual mission opportunities. I have spoken at Christian home education conferences in Russia and in Ecuador. Others have taught business concepts to entrepreneurs.9 A conductor directed a choir in Ukraine in the 1990s, sharing the sacred music that had been forbidden during the Soviet years; singers came to faith while singing the lyrics.10
Long-term opportunities: Those who plan to do Bible translation and evangelism will need to commit to lengthy language study and on-site service. Not all missionaries are Bible translators. It is possible to serve long-term as a support person. One ministry estimates that it requires fifteen support staff to keep each missionary in the field. Possibilities include accountants, medical personnel, pilots,11 technicians, construction workers, government relations specialists, web designers, security monitoring, inventors, and many more.12
Supporting those who go: Prayer is the most important way you can support missionaries, followed by financial support for specific missionaries and sending ministries.13 Be willing to release your own child for missions. While our son was preparing for long-term medical missions in Peru, he thanked us for our blessing and support. He commented that many of his colleagues’ parents resisted their adult children’s plans to serve on the foreign field. A career missionary who visited our home just this week confirmed how common this hypocrisy is—parents teach their children to be mission-minded but are not willing to let them go. Ask God for grace to offer your children to Him with open hands, rather than holding them close with clenched fists.14
Sharing the Good News is a life-long calling for every Christian. Try some of these ideas to spark that interest in your family.
- Raising Kids with a Heart for Mission by Daniel Akin (10 Publishing: 2020).
- Window on the World: An Operation World Prayer Resource by Molly Wall (InterVarsity Press: 2018).
- Taking the World for Jesus: The Remarkable Story of the Greatest Commission by Kevin Swanson (Generations: 2017). History of missions, beginning with the Early Church. Full-color illustrations.
2. Matthew 28:18
3. God’s World News (http://gwnews.com) offers news magazines for students of all ages. Highly recommended!
4. The Trailblazer Series and YWAM Publishing offer many titles for ages 10+.
5. See Praying Around the World (https://www.wycliffe.org/resources/kids/articles/praying around-the-world).
6. This is the same discipleship program offered to those who receive the shoebox gifts. It teaches how to follow Christ in their daily lives and to share Him with friends and family. Child Evangelism Fellowship (https://www.cefonline.com) also has discipleship and leadership training, along with free VBS materials.
7. See World Vision (https://donate.worldvision.org/giftcatalog), Samaritan’s Purse (https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/animals-and-agriculture), and others for catalogs of ideas.
8. Membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (https://www.ecfa.org) is a good indicator of a ministry’s wise use of funds.
9. For an example, see Threads: One Family’s Unlikely Adventure in Business, Mission and Church Planting by Arlene Richardson.
10. For more information on this unique ministry, read The Splendor of His Music by Diane McMurrin or visit MusicMissionKiev.org.
11. Missionary Aviation Fellowship (https://maf.org) provides air service for missionaries to isolated areas, providing supplies and emergency medical transport.
12. See ITEC (https://www.itecusa.org/about) for fascinating options. This unique ministry trains and equips indigenous Christ-followers to reach out to their own people through the use of practical assistance such as medical, dental, mechanical, farming, and film, thus allowing locals to be self-reliant and not dependent on missionaries or other outsiders for spreading the Gospel.
13. Consider MedSend (https://medsend.org) which makes student loan payments for healthcare workers who are serving internationally, allowing them to go while they are young and healthy.
14. Genesis 22:1–19.
Marcia K. Washburn homeschooled five sons for nineteen years and continues to serve in missions at home and abroad. See MarciaWashburn.com for her resources on home education, parenting, music education, and caregiving.
Copyright 2020, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Winter 2020-21 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com, or download the free reader apps at www.TOSApps.com for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.