It is never too early to start building a vision for missions in our kids’ hearts. I pray that my kids will grow up with a heart for the peoples of the world and a zeal to see God’s Word proclaimed among the nations.
What are some practical ways to see this happen? First of all, through prayer. I love the book Window on the World: A Prayer Atlas for Children. This beautiful book has full-color photos of different people groups, with lots of information to help children learn to pray for them. Hang up a map in the area where you are praying so that kids can begin to get an idea of where these countries are located in relation to where you live.
When we were missionaries our team spent time praying every single day for different people groups using an adult version of this book, Operation World. It was exciting and informative.
Build a heart for missions as you study geography. Knowledge Quest has just re-published A Child’s Geography: Explore His Earth and A Child’s Geography: Explore the Holy Land, both by Ann Voskamp. These beautiful grammar-level geography books both have a strong missions emphasis. The first book – Explore His Earth – has a “Reaching Out to His World” section where it gives some ideas of how to love and pray for hurting people around the world. The second book – Explore the Holy Land – also has a missions emphasis with sections on how to pray for people in these countries. A portion of all proceeds from these books goes to World Vision.
Take your kids on a tour of a missions headquarters the next time you are on vacation. Many give tours of their facilities, and these are really vision-building. There are two excellent tours that I know of in Orlando, Florida, for example. Wycliffe Bible Translators has a fantastic tour geared toward kids. Literally across the street from Wycliffe, you can tour Campus Crusade’s Jesus Film Project Headquarters.
Here in the Atlanta area we have Operation Mobilization’s mission headquarters right on our doorstep in Tyrone, GA. They give tours for families as well as homeschool group tours.
Operation Mobilization was founded by teenagers in the 1960s, and they have a comprehensive missions training program for young people. We went overseas with OM straight out of college, went through a three-month training program in the Czech Republic and then continued our training program on the job for another two years. OM’s two year training program is a great way for young people to get started in misisons right out of high school or college, without the need for theological training. In fact, young people can join OM’s Ships ministry and travel all over the world, getting broad exposure to many different countries over the course of a year.
These are just a few ideas for building a heart for missions in our kids.