Helping Children Become Mission Minded

Once again an e-mail question provides a great springboard for a Mom’s Corner topic. This time the question revolves around how much a mom should be involved in mission work, and I went into discussing how we draw our children’s hearts to missions as well. Here is the original e-mail:

“I was wondering what type of activities you all participate in regarding world evangelism. Do you support native missionaries in Asia? Do you focus on person-to-person evangelism? I know that native missionaries in Asia are very focused on the Kingdom harvest like the disciples in the church of Acts and are out risking their lives everyday, but we have so many comforts and distractions here in the US that they don’t. I’m working hard to simplify our ‘stuff’ and do with less so we can free up more funds for missionaries, but as a homeschooling mom I keep wondering how much time I should be spending each day spreading the word about reaching the unreached of over two billion people worldwide. It is my passion to reach the lost, but I want to spend time with my kids too without being child-centered. Any tips?”

It is our desire that our children would grow up with hearts for evangelism and for missions. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20). “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). As always when we have a goal for our children, it seems to begin with us as the parents. If we have hearts for evangelism and missions, then our children will as well.

About five years ago, we were given a book at a homeschool convention as we walked by the Gospel for Asia booth. The book is called Revolution in World Missions, and it was written by Gospel for Asia’s founder, K.P. Yohannan.

We were greatly encouraged by the information in that book concerning the power and potential of native pastors in reaching their own people for Christ. We began support national pastors through Gospel for Asia and Gospelink. Not only do we support native pastors with our family donations, but several of the children, through their personal finances, are also supporting their own native missionary.

We take great delight in friendships with American missionaries who are ministering in foreign countries. These friendships have led to the Lord putting a desire in our hearts to give to the work in which they are involved. We particularly enjoy supporting missionaries who are homeschool graduates or are homeschooling their own children on the mission field. The sacrifices these families are making to take the Gospel to other lands is significant. What a joy it is to be able to help them in their ministries.

We use missionary letters and e-mails as a vehicle to draw our children’s hearts to mission work. When our quarterly letter arrives from the national pastor that we support in Zimbabwe, we read it together as a family. Not only does Pastor Chipunza tell us what has happened in his personal life in the past three months, but he also gives updates in his ministry and shares specific prayer requests. Other missionary letters are put into the family reading basket, which is used for reading material when the children eat their breakfasts. As we read about and follow the missionaries’ work through the course of months and then years, we see how the Lord is using them in His kingdom work. The more we read about our missionaries and talk about them as a family, the more they are on our hearts throughout the day.

Through our missionaries’ communication of specific prayer requests, we pray for them in personal prayer time and family prayer time. Occasionally there is a particularly great need, and we find ourselves praying for it on a continual basis for a period of time.

One of the best ways to draw our children’s hearts to missions is to meet missionaries by inviting them into our homes either for a meal or to stay overnight. Those personal interactions with missionary families make them real to us, as we meet people with a real mission whose passion is transferred to us as we interact with them.

For many years, near Christmas we have participated in Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child shoe box project. More recently we have sent similar packages to individual missionaries in Mexico, who are collecting Christmas shoe boxes that they can distribute to the children in their village. This gives us personal interaction with our missionaries, and we know that there will be evangelistic follow-up after the gifts are distributed. Our children are the ones who choose the particular shoe box ministry they want to support. Then they do the shopping, including sharing in the funding, and they pack and ship the shoe boxes.

Our family also delights in reading missionary biographies. It is very difficult these days to find reading material for our children that doesn’t have negative or worldly influences. Missionary biographies often fall into the category of acceptable reading material for our children, although we still use caution because sometimes there is information in the book that isn’t appropriate for children. As our children read of the call the Lord puts into a missionary’s life, his preparation for service, his trust in the Lord to supply his needs, his sacrificial living, and his love for his people, our children are brought to a deeper love for missions and missionary work.

As far as how much time we spend on mission work, projects, and evangelism we have to remember that our foremost calling is to teach our children to love the Lord Jesus Christ. “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).

Our children are our greatest mission field. It is possible to be so involved in other ministry and mission work that we lose our own children because we have neglected their hearts. As we focus on discipling our children throughout the day, evangelism and mission emphasis will be a natural outgrowth. We can make sure to include our children in any mission projects rather than undertake projects that take time away from homeschooling, homemaking, and mothering.

As we evaluate the time responsibilities the Lord Jesus has placed into our lives, we want to be careful that our priorities are properly kept. While we know biblically that the Lord desires for us to have a heart for the lost and for missions, our first mission field is in our own homes with our children. We begin there, and then as the Lord gives time and enables, we branch out. Instead of having a mission emphasis that is just one more activity that takes our time and attention away from nurturing our children, we want to include our children in what we are doing so we may disciple them in having a heart for missions. May we be women who serve the Lord by teaching our children to have an interest in, pray for, and support missions.

Posted in: Mom's Corner