Missions for Kids
God has uniquely designed children who believe in Jesus to partner with him in a work that impacts eternity. They have the simple faith God requires, eagerly crave involvement, and long to be committed to a cause. Let’s give them opportunities to commit to the greatest purpose of all—advancing the kingdom of God. Some of the following mission concepts will help children understand God’s plan for the people of the world and the current progress of the gospel. Other concepts help children think of people in terms of cultural groups and religious blocs rather than country groupings. For a variety of resources that teach these concepts, visit the Center for Mission Mobilization webstore or Stand4Kids downloads.
The Bible says that God loves all peoples and desires that they come to know him as their Savior and Lord. “For the Son of Man has come to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). The Bible promises that no group will be excluded from his plan of salvation: “… because you were slain, and with your blood purchased men from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). In God’s eyes, this promise is a reality. Some day, people from every group on earth will worship before his throne in heaven. “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb …” (Revelation 7:9). God’s desire is that peoples in every culture will hear about him so that his promise will be fulfilled. You can help children discover their part in this exciting plan to reach the nations with God’s word.
What is a People Group?
Think about the difference between pancakes and waffles. When you pour syrup on pancakes, it spreads evenly across the flat surface. When your pour syrup on waffles, it gets caught in some of the squares, but other squares end up without any. The “waffle walls” act as barriers, preventing the syrup from spreading evenly. Now imagine that the syrup is the gospel message. How far can it spread before it encounters a “waffle wall?” In cultures these waffle walls are barriers like geography, language, tradition, or religious beliefs. For evangelization purposes, a people group is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance” (Source: 1982 Lausanne Committee Chicago meeting.)
The 10/40 Window
The 10/40 Window is a term that some people use to describe a specific part of the world. It is an invisible rectangle that extends from a latitude of 10 to 40 degrees north of the equator. Within this “window” are North Africa, the Middle East, India, Asia, and some parts of the former Soviet Union.
This region of the world is crowded with two-thirds of the world’s population. Most of the poorest people in the world can be found there. Many live on less than $2 a day. They have little money for food or health care. Life expectancy is lower than in many other parts of the world. There are some Christians in every country of the 10/40 Window, but most people follow other religions. They may practice Tribal religions, Hinduism, Islam, or Buddhism. Some are Atheists, believing in no God at all. Many people groups in the 10/40 Window have little or no opportunity to learn about the true God. Many people groups there are considered “unreached.”
What Does Unreached Mean?
Unreached people groups have not been exposed to the gospel in a significant way. Some do not have Bibles in their own language. Most do not have Christian churches, Christian media, or contact with Christian people. There is no one to demonstrate what following Jesus would look like in their culture. There may be no missionaries working in their area. Only one or two out of 10 missionaries in the world are working with unreached peoples. In many cultures unreached by the gospel, children make up 50% of the population. Evangelizing and discipling children are important strategies in any church-planting effort.
THUMB is an acronym for the major non-Christian religious belief systems found in the 10/40 Window. Imagine a hand. Start with the thumb. Each of the five fingers stands for one religious bloc. The first letter of each can be combined to spell the word THUMB. See the hand below.
T = Tribal H = Hindu U = Unreligious (Atheist) M = Muslim B = Buddhist
Tribal peoples often live in isolated areas like jungles or mountain villages. Although they believe in a creator who made the world, they do not believe that he can be known in a personal way or that he is interested in the everyday lives of human beings. Tribal peoples are animists, believing that powerful spirits indwell objects in nature like trees, rocks, water, mountains, and animals. These spirits have control over what happens in peoples’ daily lives. Some tribal groups believe that the spirits of their dead ancestors also influence their lives. Tribal groups live in constant fear of making the spirits angry and spend their lives providing gifts and sacrifices to appease them. Rituals that include costumes, body painting, songs, dances, or chants are believed to bring good luck and prevent evil. Tribal peoples often wear amulets or charms to protect themselves from evil spirits. Tribal peoples believe that the spirits communicate to them through special members of the community. Depending on where a tribe lives, these intermediaries may be called witchdoctors, shamans, medicine men, or spirit healers. Tribal peoples do not understand that their creator God loves them and has made a way for them to have a personal relationship with him.
Hindus believe in millions of gods, both good and evil. They worship idols at the temple or at a special shrine set up in their house. They give these idols offerings of flowers, food, incense, money, and even hair. Through praying, visiting temples, and offering gifts to the “gods,” Hindus believe they can make their hearts clean. Hindus believe in reincarnation, a continuous cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. According to Hindu beliefs, a person’s actions in his present life will determine the quality of his next life. This relationship between actions and life situation is called karma. When a person who does good dies, he will come back to earth as something better, like a rich or important person. A person who behaves badly will be punished in his next life. He will come back to earth like a poor person, an animal, or an insect. Hindus hope to break the cycle of reincarnation and achieve a state of peace. They do not understand that Jesus is unique, not just another god among the millions. They do not understand that Jesus died on the cross to free them from the power and penalty of sin.
Unreligious Peoples (atheists)
Unreligious peoples, or atheists, do not believe God exists. Schools in many atheistic countries teach children that God is a myth and that people who believe in God are weak or foolish. Children are encouraged to trust in their education for wisdom, leaning on their own hard work and intelligence to insure a good future. Unreligious peoples trust their country’s leaders for guidance and their armies for protection. They look to science for explanations about the universe, including how the earth and people came into existence. Atheistic governments make laws that forbid religious groups to meet, print and distribute religious materials, and teach children about God. Believers in these cultures face many forms of persecution. Unreligious peoples do not understand that God created them, loves them, and wants to them to look to him as their source of wisdom, provision, security, and hope.
The Muslim religion is called Islam, meaning submitted to the will of Allah (Arabic word for God). Unlike Hindus, Muslims believe there is only one God. The Qur’an (kuhr-ahn) is the Muslim holy book. It teaches that Jesus was a good prophet, but not the Son of God. Muslims do not believe that Jesus died on the cross or was raised back to life. Muslims try to please God by their actions. They hold to five pillars, or duties: 1. Reciting this creed, or belief statement: “There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet.” 2. Praying five times a day. 3. Giving to the poor. 4. Fasting in the daytime during their holy month of Ramadan (rah-muh-dahn) 5. Making a pilgrimage to the city of Mecca at least once in their lifetime. Muslims believe they can earn their way to heaven by doing more good things than bad, but can not be sure that Allah will accept them. Muslims do not understand that Jesus has already made a way for their hearts to become right before God. They need to have the hope of eternal life that God provides.
Buddhists follow the teachings of “the Buddha,” a man who lived 2,500 years ago. They do not believe in a God who is separate and different from mankind, but that every person contains a part of God within himself. According to Buddist teachings, all suffering comes from selfish desires, wanting what we cannot have or wanting things that are bad for us. Buddhists think they can learn to be good by following the Eight-fold Path, a set of rules for acting, thinking, and feeling. Because it takes many lifetimes to remove evil desires, Buddhists believe that they are reincarnated after death. Meditation, yoga, and martial arts are practiced to clear the mind of evil desires and distractions and reach a state of mind that is peaceful. Buddhists strive to reach the ultimate state of peaceful existence, called nirvana (ner-vahn-ah). Buddhists do not understand that true peace comes from a relationship with Jesus, the one who forgives sin and breaks the power that sin holds over us.
Gary L, CSSM Ministries