A few weeks ago, our church hosted a Global Missions Conference. It was more than amazing. Liz Eckbreth, our Missions Coordinator, did an outstanding job planning everything - from coordinating global missionaries to transforming a gym into a flag-decorated conference center to managing a lot of volunteers! It was amazing! And, I was involved, of course, on the kid-front. We had a Missions Adventure!
One of my passions, aside from all things kids, is global missions. Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations ..." If you follow my blog, you know that my husband and I go to Guatemala every year. We feel called to the short term mission field outside of the US. We know that there are opportunities here, but we've learned that the opportunities in other countries are often times exponentially greater! We've seen it. Our hope, as we pray hard & work in another country for a week each year, is found in the book of Revelation in the Bible. It says that one day, "a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, [will be] standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb." What an encouragement ... too many people to count, from everywhere in the world, in front of Jesus! Well, combining these two passions was probably one of the most rewarding things I've done since I started this job! Our trip looked like this:
First, kids received a plane ticket when they checked in with their parents. Once they got upstairs, they were given a passport and were welcomed aboard! We started our large group time with some songs, some introductions, and some prayer. Each age group was split up into a "Mission Team" with a "Team Leader." These terms were used because that's how our church's teams are organized - the kids acted out what we actually do. Next, the teams "flew" to the different adventures: Guatemala, India, Operation Christmas Child and the In-Flight Snack. These adventures were chosen strategically because our church partners with Guatemala & India to send teams 4-6 times per year. We also have a big Operation Christmas Child push around the holidays & the church planting video in the In-Flight Snack is the end goal and/or focus of why we do what we do.
So, the details...
In the In-Flight Snack Adventure the kids had juice in a bag (the way you get a coke on the side of the road in Guatemala) and actual cookies from India (the ones our teams give out to orphanages!) While the kids ate, we showed a video about church planting from the North American Mission Board website since this is our goal when we go - to help plant churches! You can watch it here ... it's really good!
In the Guatemala & India Adventures we spent time telling the kids a little about the country, what our church does when we go and how they can pray! We did a craft based on the country (henna for India, Paper weaving for Guatemala) and then spent time praying for our partnered missionaries.
In Operation Christmas Child Adventure, the kids learned about what happens when the shoe box gifts leave our church. They also made some crafts that will be kept and put into our boxes this year!
Also, each adventure ended with getting a souvenir - India: Henna Tattoo, Guatemala: woven fabric, OCC: small box. These souvenirs were stored in luggage (a cardboard crafty suitcase!) that they picked up from a Baggage Claim station after all the Adventure rotations ended.
The theme worked perfectly and the rooms were transformed is such a fun way! The kids walked in and couldn't help but focus on the Adventure at hand. Our volunteers in each room and on each team were also amazing - they kept the kids focused and were so encouraging about fostering a young love for the nations!
All in all, the morning flew by and the kids left with a deeper understanding of what our church does in global missions and how they can help: Pray, Partner, Participate! Pray for the countries - Partner by making a shoe box - Participate by telling some one about Jesus.
So ... two quick stories!
I lead the Guatemala Adventure and boy was it amazing! Each group was attentive and had awesome questions about the people of Chanco and the missionaries. We discussed that once we help the village of Chanco establish a church, we will hopefully go to a new Unreached People Group. When it came time to pray with the 4th & 5th Grade Team a boy named Sullivan offered to pray. His words, so simple, direct, and so sincere. They inspired me. They reminded me that the message of Jesus is simple enough for anyone to understand and powerful enough to want to share everywhere! He asked God to protect our missionaries from harm every day. David & Glynis - we love you! He asked God to make them feel happy because they are doing what God wants them to do. He asked God to 'raise up a church among the Guacamolians in Chanco.' We'll have to work on the word 'Guatemalans', but that's ok - God knew who he meant. Sullivan understood, at 5th grade - 11 years old, the need we all have for Jesus. Seeing the children understand that the world is big and in need of Jesus is amazing to me!
A couple days after the event, one of our sweet kindergarteners responded. Her mother told me that each night, before bed, she asked to pray for India and Guatemala. She, outside of church on Sunday morning, had internalized the need they have and acted upon what she had been taught. I know that her prayers were helpful - God loves when we come to Him! No matter what we are coming to Him about ... even if we are 5 years old and can't go on a mission trip, God hears our prayers for the nations!
My heart is full! I thought this job couldn't get any better! Kids + Missions = Love!