Praying to Grow a World Christian

 

After our second child was born, I read a tiny little brochure written by Noel Piper called, “Home Grown World Christians.”  
It hit my heart and has had an ongoing impact on how we want to raise our children.

In it Noel explains what a “World Christian” is:

“A world Christian sees beyond his neighborhood friends, his school, his everyday life and experiences.  He’ll be fascinated by the variety of people and customs next door and all over God’s wide world.  He yearns for the Manika of Guinea and the Sukuma of Tanzania to be his brothers and sisters just as he desires spiritual oneness with his best friend.  But those things will happen only if he’s exposed to a broader world than what he finds naturally.  Of course our most basic prayer for our children is that God will move them toward himself.  That they will be his people.  That they will be men and women of God.  And then our prayer is that, as they focus on God, they will be aware of the world that needs him too.”

 

This was a new idea for me–
The goal of intentionally exposing our children to different people and cultures around the world so that their world will be broad and they will have God’s heart for cross-cultural ministry and a love for people all around the world.

My husband and I are convinced that this is a worthwhile, needed effort and that as Noel explains, “…we can be sure that we are doing good for our children by pursuing their wider vision and their desire that God’s glory cover the earth.”

So how can you encourage your children to be World Christians?

  • When newsletters come in the mail from missionaries you support, take time to explain to your children why your family financially and prayerfully supports missionaries and read those letters together at meals, taking time to pray for the missionaries.
  • Expose your children to missionaries in person whenever you have the chance.  Open up your home and welcome them into your life if they are back visiting.  The missionaries our children pray for most consistently are the ones they’ve met in person.  And the missionaries we are closest to have expressed over and over that they enjoy just joining in on real life when they are visiting the United States.  One of our most special times was with our friends Igor and Aliona (missionaries in Moldova).  They joined us for a bike ride, washing the car, and a trip to Costco.  When our friends, the Gordillos were back in town, they joined us for our local Starlight parade, where the kiddos bonded over bubbles, licorice & sidewalk chalk.  Yes–we also try to plan and host the big open-house-gatherings so they can see people in large groups…but the deepest bonding has occurred during very normal times of dinner and games together.  And our children genuinely care about and pray for those missionaries.
  • If your church hosts an open house for a visiting missionary–be there.  Taste the food.  Watch the slide show.  Encourage your children to ask questions.
  • Create a missionary map board.  Our church provides cards with photos for many of the missionaries we support, but even just a  small photo from a newsletter, connected with string to a pin on the map, will help your children gain a bigger view of God’s love around the world.
  • Help your child find a pen-pal in another country.  Our daughter’s favorite pen-pal is her buddy Elizabeth who lives in Niger.
  • Consider sponsoring a child through World Vision or Compassion International.  For nearly 10 years our family felt a close connection to Yulisa from Bolivia.  And then she graduated out of World Vision’s program.  Last summer, our son came down asking about our “Passion Child” and why we didn’t have one any more…so as a family, we chose to support Loany from Honduras.  Another picture she drew for us came just yesterday and it’s hanging next to our kitchen table.
  • Buy globes.  Help your children find places on globes and mark places on globes.  For years, we had this large plastic globe hanging in our school room because you can write on it with dry erase markers.
  • Read missionary biographies or biographies of people from different countries.  Our first biographies were Dave and Neta Jackson’s– Hero Tales Series (I think we read all 4 volumes plus their book, Heroes in Black History) but lately we’ve been reading individual biographies.  My husband chose Endurance (the story of Shackleton) to start off the year and then we just finished Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place.  Last night we started Lopez Lomong’s incredible story– Running for My Life.
  • Consider the possibility of travel (and even your child’s future life in another country).  We haven’t done this much with our crew, but as a teenager, I have vivid memories of trips our youth group took each year to Tecate, Mexico.  And when I taught high school, my husband and I took two different groups of students to Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.  We just had the photos out last week from our visit to Dachau–a concentration camp in Germany and those visuals made Corrie Ten Boom’s story so much more real for our children.
  • Consider subscribing to God’s World News (World Magazine’s subscription option for children).  Every monthly issue is full of current events from around the world, shared through a biblical age-appropriate lens.
  • Support adoption.  On Monday we  will be sharing our adoption story over at Jacinda’s Growing Home blog.  But our adoptions were only possible because of the people who surrounded us with support in all different ways.  And adoption opened our family to different cultures, traditions and races.  We have four adopted nephews– each with his own story that has added a new beautiful layer to the texture of our extended family.
  • Talk with people from other countries and places and encourage your children to ask questions.  Our kids’ adopted “Uncle Tuma” escaped from the Czech Republic when he was just a young man and arrived in England with only $5 in his pocket. His story is forever cemented in their minds.
  • Discuss current events as a family.  Talk about the drought that is currently affecting almost every part of the U.S. besides where we live.  Make sure they know about things like the Colorado wildfires.  If there is a tornado or tsunami or hurricane…show them where it is on the map and look up photos to help them understand the impact.  My friend Renee Watson wrote an incredible book about Hurricane Katrina and its impact on the lives of four children.
  • Verbally appreciate (don’t ridicule) different cultures and traditions.  Explain why the bagpipers in the Olympic show are wearing a kilt (not “a skirt”) and why certain cultures wear head coverings and why the Amish don’t use rubber wheels on their tractors.
  • Read stories and picture books that depict all kinds of cultures and people.  This could be a whole post in itself.  But we love– The Story of Ping, When I Was Young in the Mountains, Madeline, A New Coat for Anna, The Treasure, Goggles, The Gully-washer…(oh this list could go on and on and on).
  • Consider hosting a foreign exchange student.  I will never forget Kazuko who lived with us when I was a child.  And our close friends just hosted a student from Spain and one from China.  When our children have a personal connection with someone from another country, it often changes the way they view that whole country.
  • If your child has an opportunity to choose a report topic for school, encourage them to choose someone or somewhere that will expand their world view.  Our daughter did a huge report on Burma (Myanmar) this year and now we both perk up whenever that country is mentioned in the news.
  • Incorporate other cultures in your home decor or art work. I smile each year when I pull out our Indonesian nativity set.  My grandparents lived in Indonesia when I was just a baby and my grandma passed along a beautiful hand-carved nativity set to our family.
  • As Noel writes, “Most of all, help your children learn that the U.S. is not the only country God made, our ways are not necessarily the best ways and English is not the only language.”
     
And I love Noel’s prayer at the end of her article:

 

“Lord, cause us and our children to anticipate and yearn for that glorious scene of Revelation 7:9-10 - of “a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes . . . [crying] out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” Lord, cause the vision of your glory to burn so strongly in us, that our children ignite for you.”

 

 

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Comments

  1. Jen Bauer says:

    Thank you for this – from a missionary wife and mom in Australia.

  2. LOVE this! I truly believe this is so important. Thanks for the ideas. I will be using many of them in the future. :)

  3. What a GREAT post, Love the ideas and am pinning it for sure! Thanks friend.

  4. Excellent ideas. A couple of resources you don’t mention are Operation World for Kids and…oh I can’t remember the title, but Wycliffe puts out an alphabet book of people who don’t have the Bible in their language. Also, praying through Ramadan, etc.

    • Thank you so much for these…going to check out all three…but especially the alphabet book. We bought the Bible in Dutch-German when it came out last year? (can you believe that was the first version) because Jason’s family background is Mennonite and his dad grew up speaking Dutch-German…the kids love looking through it. I want to know more about the praying through Ramadan…

  5. Catherine V. says:

    Awesome. I love this so much.

  6. This is a great post. Full of great ideas. We are trying to teach our kids to have a global outlook. We have missionary friends that we are visiting in Indonesia and Japan next year. We are very excited about this. All of us are. They are missionaries that we have had in our home, that we support financially and prayerfully, that we write and email. This is the next step.

    • Oh how I LOVE this!!! I’m so excited for you that you are actually going to visit (with the kiddos). My grandparents lived in Indonesia for years and I have a special friend who is a missionary there now :)

  7. Christi Antonion says:

    What a good post! Thanks for sharing these ideas. We do many of them but I am going to add the map one this year.

  8. This might be my favorite post of yours ever. Thanks for the suggestions and the vision, Kara!

    • Thanks so much Shannon…from you especially that means a lot.
      Just getting settled back in from camping :)
      Laundry pile is HUGE (but just evidence of FUN)
      I loved Noel’s article and it stretched me…

  9. I love this post and your ideas of how to become more involved with missionary work on a world level!
    I’m a full time missionary right now in Kentucky and you’re welcome to read my blog that I’ve been writing on my adventure here!

  10. We are definitely going to steal this idea from you!! I showed it to Ben (he’s my 10 year old) and he loved it. Alan has worked with so many different people all over the world that it would be brilliant to have a visual reminder and pray for them all. Thanks :)

  11. This is so, so, so important and something we are passionate about in our home. We have a lot of it “built in.” I was born in Africa and raised in France in an extremely multi-cultural environment (on any given sunday there might have been 20 countries represented). My husband has an American father and a Chinese Malaysian mother. He also lived in several different countries growing up.
    We have a map on our wall and my 4 year old can already identify a lot of different countries. It is part of our core family values that our children know and understand about other cultures. We try to do it both informally and formally. Way to be counter-cultural and do that in your home. I know your kids will appreciate it–we certainly did!

  12. Splendid post! Just what I needed. I am feeling led to incorporate praying for the world into our homeschool. Thanks you for your ideas & pointing me to Noel Piper’s articles.

  13. neuschaefer says:

    I love all your ideas. Because I work with international ladies, my girls have grown up with international friends. Having internationals in your home, is the best way to have them BE MISSIONARIES vs. learning about them.

  14. Denise Oldham says:

    Awesome post.

  15. My mom homeschooled my sisters and I until I was in 8th grade. I can remember during World History and Social Studies years we would get letters from missionaries from all over the world and Mom and I would send them questionnaires to get to know them, their ministry, and the culture more. She would make foods native to the country that the missionary was in, and we’d listen to music from that country, and do activities based on their culture like polka dancing for the Polish peoples. It was so much fun and I really enjoyed learning about all the different cultures. I think my Mom was onto something great and I want to do the same thing with my children someday.

  16. My mother homeschooled my sisters and I. I remember for World History and Social Studies we would interview missionaries from around the world to learn more about them, their ministry, and the culture they were serving. My mom would make native foods and play culture-specific music, and we’d do culture-specific activities like polka dancing for the Polish and visit a Japanese tea garden for Japan based on where the missionaries were serving. It was such a wonderful way for us to learn more about other cultures but also to connect with missionaries around the world. I totally want to do the same thing some day with my kids.

    • I love love LOVE this! The way your mom would incorporate the food and culture…makes it all “stick” so much better. And interviewing missionaries is just so so incredible…our kiddos’ school has them do that too and I love it!

  17. Jennifer@GDWJ says:

    OK. I am *loving* that map. I am going to forward this idea onto our youth committee at church, too! A pleasure to have you linking in community with us at Getting Down With Jesus.

    • Thank you Jennifer :)
      The map is such a great, visual way to see Him work spreading far and wide…when I see those pins (especially a few of them that mark the spots of people so close to my heart) it always reminds me to pray.

  18. This is wonderful! We use MFW in homeschool and this year we are studying world cultures and missionaries. We pray for the people from the cultures we learn about each day. It’s eye opening to my child and me. Great post!

  19. I fail so often to communicate my love and thanks to the missionaries we pray for and support…just know that I’m sure your work-for-Him is a huge encouragement to others.
    I thought I’d responded to your comment earlier, but I must have missed it…but I have been by your blog(s) and was blessed by your words. Thank you for living for Him…

  20. Diane Tolley says:

    Oh, I loved this! So many truly wonderful suggestions for increasing and improving your knowledge, understanding and appreciation for other peoples. For other cultures. Ignorance is the greatest thing we fight. Thank you for sharing your wonderful message!

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