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Thursday, April 5, 2012

.How To Give Kids a Heart for the Nations.

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This was taken on our first trip to Ethiopia for court. The girl in the middle is the daughter of our adoption friends whom we traveled with. I learned so much from watching these older children on the trip, and I saw so many beautiful character traits in them, that I hope my children also have at that age. Thank you Jennifer for permission to post this photo. It is forever a favorite of mine!

It's probably no secret that God has burdened my heart for missions and spreading the gospel internationally. In a way this is a new burden for me. There was something about walking through the process of adoption and getting such a unique and beautiful portrait of the gospel in that journey. I just want to share that with the world. I feel like I better understand the heart of God, His people, and His plan for the world now that I have walked this road. I see God more vividly now - perhaps He was a little one dimensional before. Adoption opened my eyes to so much and opened my heart to the world around me - not just the one I live in. And yet, it's not all a new desire, when I was a little girl, I soaked up missionary stories, and when I was a freshman in college I seriously considered teaching in the Ivory Coast. (I guess my heart knew even then that Africa would become very special to me.) I even remember emailing my parents about this desire. I may have scared them a bit! And honestly what held me back? Fear. Fear of the unknown. I didn't really know that much about the world or the needs of the world or even God's love for the world. I knew about my backyard, but not much beyond that. That was for other people, not someone so ordinary and timid as me.

But I want something different for my children.

I want to raise my children with a heart for the nations. I desire for my children to grow up and give up their entire lives for the gospel. I want them to love people - all kinds of people, not just the ones that look like them. I want them to really know that every human being is fashioned in the very image of God. I want that to impact the way they interact and show Jesus' love to people. My prayer is that they would understand that every person that they come in contact with has a soul and will one day be in eternal paradise or eternal damnation, and I want that to matter to them. I even pray that God would use them internationally. Although God may have bigger and better plans, I would love for my Jamesy to grow up to love and serve Jesus and go back to Ethiopia to serve his birth country, in order to advance the gospel and bring glory to our God. Writing that gives me goosebumps. Ultimately I want all of my children to give their lives to serving others in sharing the gospel and to see that there is more to life as we know it here in America. In being burdened with this desire, I am trying to intentionally foster a heart for the nations in my children. Here are a few of the ways our family is doing this.

  • We decorate with maps and globes and talk about the places we see. Whenever we learn about a new country or people group, we point it out on the maps.

  • We also decorate with art that is not all "American" in nature.

  • We intentionally choose books that have all kinds of characters from all over the world, not just blue-eyed, blond-haired Americans.
This book is fantastic for littles! Check it out here!
  • We talk about the world and the needs in our world right now in an age-appropriate way. For example Cadi and Scotty both know about the famine in the horn of Africa, and the persecution that Christians in China face if they are exposed. (Cadi has a HUGE heart for China. She has prayed for a Chinese sister for years. I truly see God molding something in her for the people of China.)
  • We cook and eat a variety of ethnic foods. This alone has opened our eyes (and expanded our taste buds) to cultures and people all over the world!


  • We pray together for other countries. A really great book for this is Window On the World. It gives specific needs to pray for for various countries. I think it is wonderful beginning tool to open children's eyes to the world.
  • We sponsor a Compassion child, and we pray for her every day together, as well as our first sponsor child, whom we lost. We have studied their countries, their food, and their dress. The children draw, write, and color pictures for our child. They talk about her as if she is part of our family, and truly she is.
  • We bring missional living into our homeschooling by studying what God says about the nations and instilling a passion for the lost and weaving that into as many subjects as possible. The more we understand God, the more we can make Him known to others.
These are just a few ways that we try to foster a heart for the nations in our kids, and we are in the early stages of all of this with children six and under. I am sure God will continue to grow us in this area as our children grow and give us fresh ideas and fresh eyes for His world. We also plan on getting the children passports and letting them experience mission trips first hand. Even children can be used around the world to advance God's kingdom!

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20


angie said...

i love love LOVE this post!!!! (i've been hoping we are asked to speak again this year for orphan sunday at our church, and THIS is what i want to talk about!) definitely something i want for our kids as well. one thing that has been wonderful for our family is that we open our home to short term exchange students - our oldest child just turned 6 and we started hosting when he was 2. it has been amazing for my kids to meet friends from all over the world...and it allows us to be missionaries right where we are.

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