The last lesson in the THUMB series is here. Meet Tenzin gives children ages 5-7 (K-2nd grade) an overview of what Tibetan Buddhists believe. This 30-minute downloadable lesson has three sections.
- A short skit for a narrator and one actor who plays the role of Tenzin, a boy from a small village in Tibet. Suggestions for a simple costume are included. There’s an option to do the skit script as a dialogue between the narrator and a puppet. A template and directions for making the paper bag puppet are included.
- An interactive activity that allows children to contrast Buddhist beliefs with what the Bible says.
- An opportunity to pray for Buddhist families.
Meet Tenzin is $5. Other lessons in the THUMB series include Meet Bakari (animism), Meet Amita (Hindu), Meet Jin (unreligious/atheism), and Meet Noor (Muslim). Want more THUMB resources? DVDs, curricula, and prayer tools are available through CMM Press.read more
How many shopping days until Christmas? It’s so easy to get sucked into the holiday hype and lose sight of the real meaning of what Christmas is truly about—the birth of Jesus Christ when “the Word became human (flesh) and dwelt among us,” John 1:14a.
Here’s a way to engage children in your church, class, or family in counting down the days until Christmas in a way that keeps the focus on Jesus and the reason He came. Wycliffe Bible Translators created Christmas Countdown: The Word Became Human. Designed for ages 5-12, each lesson includes a Bible reading from the Christmas narrative (Luke), a short story of Bible translation around the world, prayer, and an ongoing craft activity.
When you sign up for these free lessons, you can choose one of the following three options that matches your setting:
- Families: 25 stories, one emailed each day from December 1–25
- Christian schools: 15 stories, 5 emailed each Friday to use during the three weeks of school in December
- Churches: 5 stories, one emailed each Friday to use on the weekends leading up to Christmas
After signing up, you’ll receive an introductory email with a link to a PDF document. It contains lesson preparation suggestions as well as ornament templates to print out for the craft activity. Children decorate the ornaments to reflect each day’s translation story. Here’s a sample ornament for December 18th’s Bible translation story—the Urbed people receive Bible story recordings via cell phone. One enrichment idea is to use Scripture Earth to see and listen to some of the languages highlighted in the translation stories.
You’ll begin receiving the lessons on November 29, just in time for advent. Help children celebrate Christmas and share the excitement of people’s receiving Scripture in their language for the very first time!
October 16 is World Food Day. In our world today, 925 million people are undernourished (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO). This is 13.6% of the world population! Because their bodies are still developing, children are affected most by hunger. Every five seconds, a boy or girl dies from a hunger-related disease. Here are some resources to help your children to learn more about this issue, God’s view on hunger, and how God would have us respond.
1. The National Association of Evangelicals has created a free World Food Day Discussion Guide for families and small groups.
2. WMU created Teaching Preschoolers About Hunger, a 4-lesson study for churches or families to use with young children. Ages:Preschool. Format:Download. Price: $9.99.
3. Weave has a simple simulation called Who’s Got the Cookies? you can do with families in your church, homeschool group, or school. It demonstrates that hunger is not as much about food scarcity in the world as it is about an imbalance in food distribution. This simulation includes a Bible activity that explores what God says about our responsibility to those who are hungry and a prayer time. Ages:Grade 3 and up. Format:Download. Price:$5.
Here are some ideas of how to get children and families involved:
- Collect canned foods and dry goods to help stock a local food pantry in your area.
- Deliver Meals on Wheels to senior adults with volunteers.
- Research to find families or groups in your community who go hungry. Talk with a homeless shelter or government-assisted housing complex to discover where best to help out. Ask for permission to bring a meal to these people one night.
- Play Free Rice, an online game. Pick a subject like math, science, English, or geography. Take an online quiz. For every correct answer, the organization donates ten grains of rice through the United Nations World Food Program to help stop world hunger.
- Before you eat your family meal, pray for families around the world who will go hungry today.
This year, Ramadan is July 9-August 7. Join millions of Christians worldwide in praying for the Muslim world during this period. The 30-Days Prayer Network produces a printed “Just for Kids” booklet for children and families on Muslim people groups in many countries with information, activities, and prayer points ($3.50).
To teach your children more about this important Muslim observance and what the Bible says about the purpose of fasting, download the free Ramadan Basics. Also, check out “Meet Noor”, a 30-minute lesson in PDF format for ages 5-7 ($5). Looking for a more in-depth study? Seven of the Kids Around the World CD/DVD sets feature Muslim groups with little opportunity to hear about God’s love and Jesus’ redeeming work. For ages 5-11, each set includes a video, song, Bible lesson, prayer activity, and opportunities for children to experience the culture through language, food, crafts, and games ($19.99).read more
Take your family beyond the neighborhood swimming pool and playground this summer. You have the opportunity to explore 27 countries on six continents. Check out the summer issue of Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family magazine. They’ve created Around the World in 60 Days. Downloadable materials are free. They include a world map, itinerary, passport, and stamps that you can glue into it as you visit each country. Here are the areas you’ll visit:
Week 1: Oceania
Week 2: Asia
Week 3: Central Asia/Eastern Europe
Week 4: Middle East
Week 5: Africa
Week 6: Western Europe
Week 7: South America
Week 8: Central America/Caribbean
Week 9: North America
Bible lessons and activities help you get a glimpse into other cultures. General prayer requests for each region are included. Here’s a sample activity for Colombia, South America:
In Colombia, older members of the family are greatly respected for their wisdom. They are always served first at mealtimes. At your next meal, serve the people at the table in order from oldest to youngest. Leviticus 19:32
If you’d like to pray specifically for unreached peoples who live in these regions, go to Joshua Project. Click on the country you’d like to learn about to read about specific people groups and their needs.read more
Wycliffe Bible Translators has lots of free resources for teaching kids about how important Bible translation and literacy are to the advance of the gospel around the world, especially among the least reached peoples.
Their Fun Fact Activity Page series features different regions of the world: Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe, and the Pacific. Downloadable two-page documents include regional maps, cultural facts, recipes, crafts, puzzles, and information on Bible translation. Two sets are available–one for grade-school children and one for pre-readers.
Need something meatier? Wycliffe also created a 12-lesson series for elementary ages called Steps to Bible Translation. Free, downloadable lessons are 20-40 minutes in length. Content focuses on both translation and literacy. Suggestions for how to use these lessons in smaller units or for shorter chunks of time is provided. This set is available in Spanish as well.
Looking for a mission project for your kids? The Seed Company’s OneVerse project was perfect for the elementary-age children at my church. OneVerse helps fund Bible translation among groups with no scriptures in their heart language. On their website, you can choose the group you’d like to sponsor and get some general information about their culture and religious beliefs. Because much of their translation work is in sensitive areas, OneVerse assigns the culture and language a code name. We called our mission giving project “Adopt a Verse.” Here’s what we did:
1. We started by showing the OneVerse video Without (free to download) and then talked about what it would be like to live your whole life without a Bible or any knowledge of the true God.
2. We introduced the people group we would be helping and showed the country where they lived on a world map. The kids thought it was cool that they had a code name because the translators were working in secret. We talked about reasons why translators may need to do their job “undercover.”
2. We explained that each verse costs $26 to translate and showed them the Bible box that we would use to collect money. Each child took home a parent letter explaining our project.
3. Over several weeks, we taught about the religion of our group, Hinduism, and what it would be like to grow up with Hindu beliefs instead of the truths of God’s word. We used a lesson called Meet Amita for this.
4. I found a website that has John 3:16 in many different languages and created samples of some of these to use as a progress chart. Each time we collected enough money to translate a verse — $26, $52, $78 — I put up a new sheet with a John 3:16 translation on our missions bulletin board. This was a quick, visual way for kids to keep track of how we were doing.
5. On the final day of our project, we donated our money online, using the screen and projector so the kids could see what was happening. Afterwards, we prayed for the Hindu families who would receive Bibles.
6. The following week, we told the children the exact verses that they had helped to translate.
You might also want to tell your parents about this online game that teaches children about Bible translation. The Seed Company partnered with the Duggar family to create MakaziVille. After creating this own avatar, children visit a fictitious village in the African country of Tanzania. They learn about village life and see how important it is to have God’s word in your own language.
Look at this cool poster that shows global stats — the World As 100 People. Wouldn’t this be great to use in a missions class?
There’s a book for kids with the same thrust – If the World Were a Village: A book about the World’s People by David J. Smith. (2nd Edition, 2011) It’s a great way to expand kids’ worldview. This book is available in public libraries and through Amazon.com.
Stand4Kids created Small World, a children’s mission lesson for grades 1-5 that uses stats from this book. Because “100” is a difficult number for concrete thinkers to imagine, this lesson shrinks the world population to 20 people. Children learn about:
- the major languages spoken in the world
- inequities in resources like food, clean air and water, and electricity
- the spiritual condition of the world’s peoples
This downloadable lesson (PDF format) includes a prayer activity. It takes 25 minutes, the perfect length for Children’s Church, mid-week activities, Christian School chapel, or a home school gathering.
World Water Day is March 22. This year’s theme is water cooperation. Stand4Kids has a downloadable lesson called “Every Last Drop.” It addresses issues that children without access to clean water face. For ages 5-10, it includes demonstrations, photos (Powerpoint format), a Bible passage, prayer time, and optional Week for Water giving project.
I did this lesson with my 1st-6th grade AWANA classes and they learned so much (AWANA has a children at risk initiative that children can donate to, like the Adopt-a-Club program.) The thing the children loved most was the dirty water demonstration. The thought of families drinking water from the same source used for bathing, washing clothes and dishes, and also used by animals grossed them out. For the prayer time, I added props for the children to hold that reminded them of water issues kids face. Here’s what I used:
- ruler: the long distances children must walk to get water
- slinky: carrying heavy water compresses and damages neck bones and the spine
- diploma (rolled piece of paper tied with ribbon): hours spent fetching water prevents kids from going to school
- medicine bottle: drinking dirty water makes children sick
- Bible: children not only need access to clean water, but also the hope of Jesus
The sixth annual Children’s Ministry Day is February 16. Developed by WMU, Children’s Ministry Day gives kids in grades 1-6 the opportunity to participate in local community ministry. Individual projects are designed by children’s leaders in churches and Christian schools all across North America. This year’s theme is Helping Hands and focuses on helping kids serve the homeless and poor in their local community. The theme verse is “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” (Matthew 25:40)
WMU created a downloadable Children’s Ministry Day booklet with project suggestions, planning tips, a skit, and learning activities to enhance your project as well as colorful posters for promoting your event ($8.99). Other free resources like clip art, flyers, and a Powerpoint presentation overview are also available for download.
Ready to plan a project that kids can carry out in your community? Make sure to invite others to assist you. If you can’t hold your event on February 16, pick a day that works for you. Here are 10 ideas to get those creative juices flowing:
- prepare hygiene packs at a ministry center
- serve a meal at a homeless shelter
- provide snacks for children at a local ministry’s after-school program
- sort clothes at a clothes closet
- collect canned goods and donate to a local food pantry
- collect gently worn toys/children’s books and donate to a homeless shelter that houses families
- collect baby diapers and donate to a homeless shelter that houses families
- collect white tube socks and donate to a homeless shelter
- collect and donate school supplies to an organization that provides these to families who cannot afford them
- plant a community garden
Invite your church leaders, teachers, and parents to be involved by praying for your kids and the people they will serve. And don’t forget to take lots of pictures!read more
How many pairs of shoes do you own? Last year, Americans purchased 2 million pairs of new shoes. To make more room in their closets, they discarded more than 300 million pairs of gently-worn shoes, many of which ended up in landfills. Meanwhile … more than 300 million children worldwide do not have one pair to call their own. Going without shoes exposes boys and girls to injury and infection from cuts, burns, punctures, and bites. Imagine scavenging in a garbage dump or walking many miles to fetch water for your family — without shoes to protect your feet. Barefoot children are more susceptible to soil-transmitted parasites like hookworm and roundworm. Lack of shoes, a required part of a school uniform, prevents many children from getting an education.
Engage your kids in learning about this issue and becoming a part of the solution. We presented this topic to the elementary kids at my church last year in connection with a service project. It grew into a 30-minute lesson for ages 5-11 called Choose Shoes. We created a PowerPoint to introduce kids to shoe issues around the world. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. The lesson also includes a small group activity, Bible time, prayer, and project suggestions.
If you decide to do a suggested project, the lesson also has related books and movie clips to keep the momentum going. Since our project spanned several months, we created a bulletin board graph. Our goal was 400 pairs of shoes. I cut the shoes off four bulletin board children and gave them construction paper bare feet. Every time we collected 50 pairs of shoes, the bulletin board children received one of their shoes back.
These projects are fun because they are so hands-on, but don’t forget the spiritual aspect. During your project wrap-up, have a shoe dedication ceremony. Let your kids hold a pair of shoes they donated. Lead your children in praying for those who will receive the shoes. Pray that they will have the opportunity to learn about Jesus and follow him for a lifetime.read more
The Olympics begin Friday. What a great opportunity to introduce your kids to Eric Liddell, nicknamed the Flying Scotsman. He is a wonderful example of perseverance, being who God has created one to be, and standing strong for one’s faith in the face of opposition. Here are some helpful resources.
“Eric Liddell Story” animated movie, 30 min. DVD includes an “Eric Liddell: Champion of Conviction, ” 60-minute documentary. Vision Video, 2007. Click on the Downloads tab for a free Teacher’s Guide with four lesson plans as well as 16 pages of student handouts (comprehension and discussion questions, puzzles, activities, coloring, and more). For ages 8-12.
- Eric Liddell Are You Ready? by Catherine Mackenzie. Paperback, 24 pp., CF4K, 2012. For ages 3-8.
- Eric Liddell: Running for a Higher Prize by Renee Meloche. Illustrated, book written in rhyme. Hardcover, 32 pp. YWAM Publishing, 2001. For ages 5-10.
- Ten Boys Who Changed the World by Irene Howat. Short stories of ten boys, including Eric Liddell, who were used by Christ to change the world in their times. Paperback, 160 pp. Christian Focus Publications, 2003. For ages 9-12.
- Eric Liddell: Something Greater than Gold by Janet and Geoff Benge. A missionary biography chapter book. Paperback, 199 pp. ,YWAM, 1998. Also available as Kindle edition. For ages 9-13.
- Eric Liddell: Greater than Gold by Christian History Institute. Free article for upper elementary/middle school.
Make an Olympic torch and use it in a relay race.
ERIC LIDDELL QUOTES
- “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.”
- “In the dust of defeat as well as the laurels of victory there is a glory to be found if one has done his best.”
- “We are all missionaries. Wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or we repel them from Christ.”
SCRIPTURE ON RUNNING THE CHRISTIAN RACE
- Acts 20:23-25
- 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
- 2 Timothy 4:7
- Hebrews 12:1-3
This year, Ramadan is July 20-August 18. Join millions of Christians worldwide in praying for the Muslim world during this period. The 30-Days Prayer Network produces a printed “Just for Kids” booklet for children and families on Muslim people groups in many countries with information, activities, and prayer points. It’s also available as a download. To teach your children more about this important Muslim observance and what the Bible says about the purpose of fasting, download the free Ramadan Basics. Also, check out Meet Noor, a 30-minute lesson for ages 5-7. Looking for a more in-depth study? Seven of the Kids Around the World CD/DVD sets feature Muslim groups with little opportunity to hear about God’s love and Jesus’ redeeming work. Each set includes a video, song, Bible lesson, prayer activity, and opportunities for children to experience the culture through language, food, crafts, and games. For ages 5-11.read more
World Refugee Day is June 20. Last year, persecution, conflict, and natural disaster forced 43.7 million people to leave behind relatives, friends, homes, livelihoods, and all things familiar. More than half of all refugees are children. Here are resources to help you introduce children to the topic of refugees.
- Home Away from Home: How Children Find Hope When they Lose Their Homes is a 1–hour lesson from World Vision that explores reasons for homelessness with an emphasis on refugees. Grades 1-3.
- Christian Aid in the UK created Far From Home, lessons to use in a school assembly context to help students empathize with the situation of people who have to leave their homes. Case studies from Angola, Bangladesh, and Burma explore some of the reasons that force people to become refugees. Includes Powerpoint of photos. You can download free lessons for ages 7-11 and 11-14
BOOKS (available from Amazon.com)
- Brothers of Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan by Mary Williams. Driven from his village home by the soldiers, Garang treks with other boys nearly 1,000 miles across the Sudan border—first to Ethiopia, and later to Kenya. He finds shelter in refugee camps and meets an American aid worker. Can Tom help? 40 pp., ages 9-12.
- Dia’s Story Cloth by Dia Cha. Based on the author’s life, this book chronicles the experiences of a Hmong family who fled their native Laos, lived in a refugee camp in Thailand, and eventually emigrated to the United States. Illustrations are based on a traditional Hmong story cloth. 24 pp., ages 7-10.
- Four Feet Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams. When relief workers bring clothing to a refugee camp in Pakistan, Lina is thrilled to find a sandal that fits her foot perfectly – until she spots another girl holding the matching shoe. Describes daily life in a refugee camp – washing clothes in the river, waiting in line for water, and watching for their names to appear on the list to go to America. 32 pp., ages 6-9.
- Give Me Shelter: Stories About Children Who Seek Asylum by Miriam Halahmy. Short stories from youth around the world — Kosovo, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Eritrea, Zaire, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Zimbabwe, and Kurdistan. Spotlights people who have been forced to leave their homes or families to seek help and shelter elsewhere. 127 pp., ages 9-12.
- The Long Road by Luis Garay. When civil war breaks out in Jose’s Central American country, he and his mother are forced to flee their home. Addresses paperwork and red tape, nights in a refugee hostel, and the family’s struggle to survive from the viewpoint of a child. 32 pp., ages 6-9.
- Making It Home: Real-Life Stories from Children Forced to Flee by Beverly Naidoo. First-person accounts of children displaced by war describe the horror left behind, the family separation, and the struggle to adjust to a new place, whether as a refugee in a camp or as an asylum seeker in the U.S. 128 pp., ages 9-16.
What do strings of Christmas lights, water buckets, and graham crackers have in common? They’re props used in a lesson that introduces your kids to the state of the world and paves the way for informed prayer. You could use lesson activities in conjunction with two major prayer events coming soon:
-May 27: Global Day of Prayer
-June 2-3: World Weekend of Prayer for Children at Risk
It’s a Small World gives your kids the background they need before they pray. This fun lesson introduces 1st-5th graders to the global village through a demonstration that shrinks the world population to 20 people. Children learn about the major languages spoken in the world and issues that many of their peers face on a daily basis (lack of healthy food, clean air, safe water, and electricity). The lesson also addresses the spiritual condition of the peoples of the world, including those who have never heard of Jesus. It’s a Small World takes 25-30 minutes and is highly interactive. It’s great for mixed-age groups. The lesson comes as a downloadable PDF and costs $5.
After the demonstration, lead a time of prayer using some of these free materials for children:
-Global Day of Prayer’s downloadable, 10-day prayer guide for children.
-Viva International’s downloadable, children’s prayer booklet for the World Weekend of Prayer.
World Water Day is March 22. This year’s theme is Water and Food Security. Did you know that 70% of the water used on earth goes into agriculture and food production? That juicy burger you’re eating took 634 gallons (2400 liters) of water to produce from start to finish. Check out these resources that explain how water use and food sustainability go hand-in-hand. Here are resources on water issues to use with elementary age children.
- Stand4Kids: Every Last Drop lesson addresses issues that children without access to clean water face. Includes demonstrations, photos, a Bible passage, prayer time, and optional Week for Water giving project. Ages 5-10.
- LifeWater International: WASH (Water, Sanitation Hygiene) Around the World 5-lesson download includes short stories of real children in five countries with discussion questions. Ages 3-11.
- WaterAid: Water Around the World Slide Show. Ages 5-8. Pumping It Up lesson with an experiment that demonstrates how a well pump brings up underground water. Ages 8-11.
- Blood:Water Mission: Lemon:Aid project to raise money for wells, water filters, and rain tanks for communities in Africa.
February 26 is Freedom Sunday. It’s designed to build awareness about human slavery and trafficking in local churches. Here are some Biblical-based lessons and projects for children on these issues.
- Loose Change to Loosen Chains is a student-led campaign for elementary to college students to combat modern-day slavery while learning about the reality of injustice today. Order materials from the International Justice Mission. IJM uses money donated through this program to rescue victims of slavery and other forms of oppression.
- Break the Chains: The Power of Choice – Free download lesson on human trafficking for older elementary kids. Look in the Bible Study section. This is part of the Break the Chains Initiative from the Evangelical Covenant Church.
- Childhood Lost – Free download lesson on child labor for elementary children from Stand4Kids. Look in the Bible Study section under New Children’s Curriculum.
The fifth annual Children’s Ministry Day is February 18. Developed by WMU, Children’s Ministry Day gives kids in grades 1-6 the opportunity to participate in local community ministry. Individual projects are designed by children’s leaders in churches and Christian schools all across North America. This year’s theme is Operation Education. The theme verse is “Do your best to please God. Be a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed. Teach the message of truth correctly.” (2 Timothy 2:15, NIrV)
WMU created a downloadable Children’s Ministry Day Pack ($11.99). It contains a 16-page booklet with project suggestions, planning tips, and learning activities to enhance your project as well as colorful posters for promoting your event. Other free resources like clip art, flyers, and a Powerpoint presentation overview are also available for download.
Ready to plan an education-related project that kids can carry out in your community? Make sure to invite others to assist you. If you can’t hold your event on February 18, pick a day that works for you. Here are 10 ideas to get those creative juices flowing:
- Help your kids host a used book drive and donate the books to a literacy ministry in your community.
- Make and send thank-you cards to principals at local schools. Better yet, have your kids deliver the cards personally. How many of them have ever seen the inside of the principal’s office–in a good way?
- Find out when the next school board meeting is. Help your kids prepare cookies or other snacks for the meeting. Ask if some of your kids can deliver the goodies and pray for the board members at the beginning of the meeting.
- Contact local school administrators and ask permission for your kids to help clean classrooms.
- Contact a local after-school program or a child-care facility and ask for a list of items they might need. Have your kids organize a drive in your church or school to help meet those needs.
- Prayer walk around neighborhood schools on the weekend.
- Help older kids prepare and read storybooks to preschoolers or kindergarteners at their school.
- Collect school supplies for needy children in your area. Have your kids write an encouraging letter on the first page of the notebooks.
- Have your kids make and send encouraging notes to GED students.
- Ask permission to host a teacher appreciation breakfast or lunch at a local school. You’ll probably need to enlist parent help for this one.
Invite your church leaders, teachers, and parents to be involved by praying for your kids and the people they will serve. And don’t forget to take lots of pictures!read more
October 16 is World Food Day. In our world today, 925 million people are undernourished (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO). This is 13.6% of the world population! Because their bodies are still developing, children are effected most by hunger. Every five seconds, a boy or girl dies from a hunger-related disease. Hunger has many facets and layers. Here are three.
Starvation: Starvation caused by famine, like the one currently threatening families in the Horn of Africa, is the most extreme form of hunger. Starvation often leads to death, especially in children.
Food insecurity: Not all hunger is caused by famine. For millions, lack of access to sufficient amounts of nutritious food is an ongoing, daily reality. Families eat the bare minimum to stay alive. Children go to bed each night, not knowing where their next meal will come from.
Hidden Hunger: In addition, two billion people exist on a limited diet. Because children eat the same thing every day rather than a variety of foods, they don’t get the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy growth and development. The resulting malnutrition has serious consequences. For example, children with Vitamin A deficiency have severe problems with eyesight and some become blind.
Here’s a map put out by the FAO. It shows that state of undernourishment in countries around the world. Did you know that there’s more than enough food to provide adequate nutrition to everyone on the planet? Here’s a simple simulation you can do with families in your church, school, or homeschooling group. It shows that hunger is more about an imbalance in food distribution than a shortage of food.read more
When I was really little, I used to hang out in the garage. One item that always intrigued me was my dad’s can of Turtle Wax. At that time, the label showed a turtle holding a can of turtle wax that had a small label of a turtle holding a can of Turtle Wax. My brain hurt from imagining how small the turtles would get if this just kept going and going.
So what does Turtle Wax have to do with children in prayer? If we introduce children to prayer warriors through stories and they take us seriously, our children will become models of prayer for others, who will become models of prayer for others. Here’s a true story of a young girl whose prayers reflect those modeled by adults around her, adults whose prayers reflect those of an earlier model, George Mueller. This is a fun story to tell and act out right before a family meal or class snack when everyone is already seated.read more
Last spring, I was discouraged by a boy’s comment made during a Sunday School lesson I was teaching on Jesus’ power to heal. “God doesn’t still do things like that today” he blurted out to the group of 1st-4th graders. This caused a flurry of other responses ending with, “Yeah, I don’t think that Jesus is as powerful today as he used to be.” I rallied with a Biblical response, but was not sure the group was buying it.
I realize it’s difficult for grade-school children to make the shift from how God worked thousands of years ago to how God works today. This got me thinking. If they really don’t see God for who he is, do children have any foundation for believing that their prayers make a difference? How can we as teachers assist? After that lesson, I made two decisions: 1) to share more of the daily miracles God works in my life with my students and 2) to find and share modern-day examples of God at work through the prayers of children. On my hunt for models of children in prayer, I found this gem: Albanian children intercede for the sick in their community during a period where it was against the law to believe in God, much less talk to him. Please share this story with those wide-eyed, wheels always turning, children in your sphere of influence.
Ramadan, the Muslim month of prayer and fasting, is August 1-30 this year. Check out this prayer guide that can help your children pray for their peers in the Muslim world: Just for Kids: 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World. But let’s take a step back. Do your kids really believe their prayers make a difference? They can see God heal a scrape on their leg or provide a job for their dad, but seeing a Muslim child in a different country begin to follow Jesus — that’s not quite as concrete. It’s up to us as teachers and parents to provide the concrete. As you invite your children to intercede for kids around the world, encourage them with plenty of examples of how God answers when boys and girls talk to him about what’s already on his heart. During the month of July, I’ll provide you with some stories you can use with your class. Here’s the first one: Hope Smith, age 9, intercedes for Mongolia.
Here are three more children’s prayer activities you can do using the world fabric map.
Materials: fabric world map, beanbag
Directions: Lay the map on the floor. Have children sit or stand around the map. Choose a child to toss the beanbag onto the map. Read the name of the country where the beanbag lands. Pray for families in that country to come to know Jesus. If the beanbag lands on a body of water, pray for families in a country that borders that body of water. Hand the beanbag to another child and continue in the same way.
Light of the World
Materials: fabric world map, flashlight, music CD and CD player
Directions: Lay the map on the floor. Have children take off their shoes and sit in a circle around the map. Turn off most of the lights. Hand the flashlight to a child. When the music begins, the children pass the flashlight around the circle. When the music stops, the child with the flashlight stands and shines the light on one country on the map. Pray for God to prepare the hearts of families in that country to understand who Jesus is. Have the child sit back down in the circle, start the music, and continue in the same way.
Missionary Photo Card Prayer
Materials: fabric world map, photo prayer cards of church missionaries
Directions: Lay the map on the floor. Have children sit around the map. Show the photo on the first missionary prayer card and read the names of the people in the family. On the map, locate the country where the missionaries serve. Choose a child to lay the photo card on the map. Pray for the missionaries using some of the prayer categories suggested below. Continue in the same way with the remaining prayer cards.
health new friends
safety time with God
wisdom adjust to culture
learn language many people come to know God
My church just finished our annual mission emphasis events. This year’s theme was “imissions” and teaching focused on how missionaries use technology to advance the gospel. I work with the 1st-4th graders throughout the year to keep missions in the forefront of their minds and hearts. Because kids are so computer savvy (and because our large-group teaching space was finally wired for the internet!), we chose to focus on mission websites for children. We introduced them to six websites that help them learn about other cultures and provide ways for them to pray for their peers who have not heard about Jesus. We also showed them the “Today” video described below. Here’s the meat of the parent letter we sent home.
Caravan Friends website on peoples of South Asia from the International Mission Board. Includes many cultural and prayer activities for peoples of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Plenty of stories, cultural activities, and prayer requests.
Quest for Compassion website on poverty from Compassion International. Kids design their own travel buddy and can visit the countries of Bangladesh, Brazil, El Salvador, and Ghana.
DiscipleZone is the online portion of DiscipleLand Curriculum. Use the dials to choose Grade 1, Quarter A, and Lesson 1. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the WorldWatch icon. You will see Part 1 of a 12-part continuing story on an unreached people group. Go back and click on Lesson 2 to see the second part of the story. Four stories (one for each quarter) are provided for each grade level. That’s 24 people groups to learn about and pray for.
SIM Kids website on missions in South America (Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru); Africa (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria); and Asia (China, India Pakistan, and Philippines). Loads of stories, activities, and prayer requests.
Sonlight Curriculum has an online section called “My Passport to India” with video clips, family devotions, crafts, games, and recipes. Travel with Chris to India through short video segments. Then do related activities. Includes family devotions and prayer requests.
“Today” is a 4-minute video that will inspire you. It’s the story of God’s heart for children, challenges that children face today, and how children who trust Jesus are serving in God’s kingdom. I highly recommend this for anyone serving in children’s ministry.read more
Each February, thousands of boys and girls in grades 1-6 participate in hands-on ministry projects in their own community on the same day — Children’s Ministry Day®. This year’s event is on February 19! From feeding hungry people to visiting shut-ins, children across America follow God’s command to “put your love into action” (1 John 3:18). The theme of this year’s fourth annual event is Neighbor to Neighbor, based on Leviticus 19:18c, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” WMU (Women’s Missionary Union) provides creative ideas that help groups develop and tailor projects to meet the needs in their own communities. Although WMU is an auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention, the suggested activities are generic enough to be used by other churches, Christian schools, homeschooling groups, and families.
WMU offers some free resources to help you promote your event as well as an inexpensive booklet with ministry ideas, parent letters, decorating ideas for classrooms, children’s sermons and skits, and learning activities. Need more ministry ideas? Check out what other groups have done.read more
This summer, I taught 2nd-4th graders at Bible camp. The children asked lots of questions, some of which I’d never thought about before. “Did Adam and Eve ever get married?” “So did animals talk way back then before the fall like the serpent did?” “Will we celebrate birthdays in heaven?” Having the option to respond with “I don’t know because the Bible doesn’t tell us” was helpful. As I continued to unfold little scraps of paper with scribbled questions, I noticed a pattern emerging. Many children were confused about the Trinity. Should I tell them that adults don’t understand the Trinity either, or that we won’t fully grasp how God can be three in one until we get to heaven? Though both statements are true, and possibly useful in responding to questions about the Trinity, I decided that young children needed some concrete demonstrations as well. Here’s how I addressed two of their questions.read more
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