There are things we can do to help our kids love the nations and the cause of Christ, even though a heart and calling for the Great Commission is ultimately something only God can grant. Here are a few ideas from Ryan and Anna, who are currently preparing to serve in Asia with their two young daughters.
1. Pray for missionaries as a family. We keep a stack of prayer cards on the dinner table and rotate through them during mealtime prayers.
2. Read missionary biographies to your children. The stories of Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson, William Carey, Gladys Aylward, and other missionary pioneers are captivating ways to orient a child’s heart on the most important things in life.
3. Draw the whole family into supporting missionaries financially. Teach your kids from a young age that being a good steward of their money involves channeling resources toward the the cause of Christ in missions. Older kids can donate some of their lawn mowing and babysitting money. Younger children can earn money doing chores around the house which can be set aside for missionaries.
4. Find your child a missionary kid pen pal. Many children of missionaries around the world would be delighted to get mail from a child their age in their parent’s culture. Your child (and the whole family) will learn valuable insights about living abroad through the eyes of a child. Additionally, when the missionaries visit your church, your child will already have a relationship with the MK and will be able to include them more easily.
5. Entertain missionaries in your home. Inviting missionaries over will be as much of a blessing to your family as to the missionaries. Host them for dinner or for a whole furlough. Build or buy your house with this in mind.
6. Take risks as a family. There are ways to live life which help children grasp the reality that discomfort and suffering are normal and rewarding parts of the Christian experience. Volunteer at a rescue mission; house a single mother; move to the inner-city.
7. Affirm and nurture qualities in your children which could serve them on the mission field. As your children grow in knowledge and skill, encourage them to think about how they could use their gifts in missions work. Then, if God says, “go,” release them to go!
8. Teach your children to be world Christians. Don't expose them to only the American perspective on news and realities around the world. Go out of your way to make them more aware than the average American Christian about geography, world history, and the plights and perspectives of people across the globe.
9. Read missionary prayer letters to your children. Ask them questions about the content and look up facts about the missionaries’ location on the Internet.
10. Use missions fact books and resources such as Operation World, the Global Prayer Digest, the Joshua Project, and Voice of the Martyrs (VOM). Kids of Courage is the youth-oriented arm of VOM and offers activity books, spotlights on the persecuted world, and more.
Most of all, pray every day that your kids will develop hearts that mirror God’s compassion for the nations and love for his glory in them!
-- By Tia for Desiring God