Missions Launch

Helping those who help the world

Reaching out to Kids

by Beverly Cooper |

Children in Missions, Orphanages

 kids galore

Any seasoned missionary can tell you that the local kids are the most heartbreaking and the most delightful aspect of a mission trip. Our hearts may break when we see the squalor that may be their home, and when we see their poor physical health. But our hearts also swell with love when we see them respond warmly to our touch and attention. Though they appear on the outside to be different, kids all over the world are the same on the inside. They need love, and they need Jesus.

It is very important to interact with the children, whether it is a planned structured activity, such as Vacation Bible School, or an unstructured activity such as an impromptu soccer match. So, what kinds of activities are possible when there are language and culture barriers? I am so glad you asked!

Structured activitiescameraStructured activities are those that are pre-planned and pre-organized. Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a great example. If possible, work with a local pastor. Many times, the mission teams serve as a kind of draw to the local church. Essentially, we aid the local ministry already in place.

Send a team out ahead of time to pass out flyers (in the local language of course), to prayer walk, and to interact some with the kids and adults in the area. I cannot stress enough the necessity of flooding the neighborhood in prayer. Be approachable. You may be asked to pray for a specific need, so be prepared. The locals usually know why you are there.
Most teams create their own VBS lessons. You will need someone fluent in the local language to make sure your message is clear. Here is the way it typically goes:

• First, team members greet kids and parents as they arrive. This is a good time to take pictures. If your camera is digital, show them their pictures. They love it.
• After the greeting, there is music and singing. It is great to have team members seated amongst the kids or at least walking around interacting with them. Make it lively.
• Use skits to illustrate the lesson. Puppets are great, too. Ham it up, but make the message clear.
• Craft time. Keep the craft simple and have it kitted in baggies to pass out to each child. Be prepared for the adults to participate, too. It is a really great idea to make the little kits before you leave home. Trust me on this.
• Give the pastor time to speak.
• Snack time. This is best done as the kids are leaving. Be really organized here. Crowd control is a must.

Unstructured activities

kidUnstructured activities are those that just sort of happen. Maybe your mission is to build a church and during a lull in the work, you notice a group of kids gathered to watch. If possible, take a moment to engage them in something fun. You might be surprised at what happens when you bring out a soccer ball or a bag of beads and string.  Here are some items that you can pack fairly easily and have great fun with.

• Beach balls
• Beads for necklaces
• Balloons (can you make balloon animals?)
• Frisbees
• Bubbles (watch for leakage if flying)
• Bouncy balls
• Hacky sacks
• Coloring pages

Here is the link to great website that offers free multilingual coloring pages and ideas for Bible lessons: http://www.christiananswers.net/kids/clr-indx.html.

Also, some kids like to trade something with you as a sort of memento of your visit. Sometimes the adults will, too, so be prepared. Most of all, have fun and be loving. You have the opportunity to help Jesus change a life.

Photos by  Stig Nygaard

How to Bring the Whole Family on a Missions Trip

by admin |

Children in Missions, Family Issues in Missions, Planning to Go

Toy PlaneIf you have ever dreamed of taking your whole family to an exotic location for a trip, then the idea of a mission trip might have crossed your mind. You must remember, however, that taking a mission trip is certainly more than traveling around the world. It is a lot of hard work, and it can be emotionally taxing as well. In addition, if you want to bring the whole family on a mission trip, you need to take careful consideration and plan carefully.

One of the first things you will want to do when you plan on bringing the family on a mission is to talk the idea out with each and every family member. You and your spouse need to be on board with the idea with no reservations. Sit down with your children. Show them the maps of where you plan to travel and talk about your mission there. Help them understand why you want to go and then get their thoughts and feelings. You may find your children very excited and ready to leave right away. However, you may find that your children are upset about the idea of leaving their home, friends, and family. At this point it is important to communicate with them about their feelings, especially if you still plan to go in spite of their decision to not want to go.

Once your family has agreed that the mission is a great idea and everyone is excited to go, now is the time to prepare in other ways. Tying up loose ends at home will help your children make the transition from your home life to the new mission life. Consider throwing a party for your friends and family and exchanging addresses and emails so that you and your children can stay in contact. Take plenty of pictures and take them along with you so your children can think about what is waiting for them when they arrive back home.

Kid in StrollerAnother idea you will have to prepare your children for is the idea of hard work. Your children will be a very important part of your mission and each family member can help in one way or another. Prepare your children for the task that lies ahead, so they know what is expected of them. Remind your children that there will be times when you need them to be flexible, as plans often change on missions trips and focuses and goals may change as well.

Most parents that take their children on a mission trip will homeschool. If your child has never been homeschooled, then you will both need to learn how this is done. Gather the materials you will need before you leave, such as textbooks, workbooks, and know if you will have Internet connection where you will be going, so you can bring along a laptop, if necessary.

Of course, you will also need to consider the paperwork involved. It is hard enough for one person to prepare for a mission trip, but multiply that times three or four or even five times. You will need to get all the necessary documents in order for each member of your family and get your medical records in order. Each member of your family needs a trip to the doctor to get necessary immunizations depending on where you are going. If you or any of members of your family take medicine on a regular basis make sure you have an adequate supply to take with you. This is very important, since you may not have access to regular medical care on your trip.

As you can see, there are many considerations to make as you plan a mission trip for your whole family. Careful planning will help make this trip a success for everyone.

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