By Teresa Sayles, Children’s Curriculum Specialist
Woodland Hills Church
Our world is one that is connected as never before. The click of a button or the tap of a screen allows us to relate to people across the globe in ways our ancestors couldn’t have imagined. It’s never been easier to find out what’s happening in other parts of the world or to discover who or what situations could use prayer or help right now, and it’s never been easier to help your child realize the global impact their faith and actions can have in the lives of others thousands of miles away. God calls each of us, no matter how young or old, to look for opportunities to share His love and good news with others. Even at a young age, kids can become global-faith participants, sharing their faith and God’s love with others around the world as well as at home.
The first thing to do is to help your child develop an understanding of the broader world around them. A child’s world starts out very small and, without meaning to be, self-centered, but as a child grows, it’s important to help him/her understand how words and actions can impact others, both positively and negatively. And while it’s vital to teach children how to relate with, serve, and help those they interact with on a regular basis, it’s also important to expand their understanding of the greater world around them so they see how God is moving and working even thousands of miles from where you live. Doing so helps them to think outside of themselves, recognize and search out the needs of others, and learn to give and live in a self-sacrificial way, just as Christ taught and lived.
Here are a few ideas to assist you in thinking and ministering globally as a family:
- Pull out a map or jump on the Internet and find some maps or images to look at. (Google Earth has free desktop software you can download that gives you access to some pretty incredible images from around the world as well as the greater universe.) Talk about the different cultures and places people live in and what struggles and joys they might have.
- Head to an ethnic restaurant and sample food you’ve never tried or make a visit to Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis (or a global-style market near you) and get a taste of what people and cultures are like around the world.
- Sit down as a family and watch a family-friendly movie or documentary that highlights or takes place in a different culture.
- If you have an older child, do some research together on the Internet or at the library about a particular country or culture. Take time to talk as a family about the similarities and differences found between your own culture and those you’re learning about.
- Look for a way to donate to or volunteer with an organization that impacts those in need around the world, such as Feed My Starving Children or our current Love Makes Cents initiative at Heroes Gate.
- Make a list of countries from around the world with some key facts about its people and each day or week, choose one to pray for as a family.
- If you have any family or friends who grew up elsewhere, ask if they would be willing to spend some time with your family and talk about what it was like growing up in a different place and culture.
Kids have generous hearts, and when they begin to realize they can make a difference in the world around them, both at home and around the world, amazing things can happen.