Does It Matter that I Teach Preschoolers in Mission Friends?

Teaching preschoolers matters

One of the advantages to being—um, seasoned—in life is that I have been able to watch children around me grow up. Well, OK, granted, it’s a little less than flattering when your dental assistant turns out to be your former student—when she was in elementary school. Or when you call for an appliance man to fix your freezer, and the young man who shows up at the door says, “Oh, hi. Weren’t you my librarian in sixth grade?”

Children do grow up! But maybe you have discovered, as I have, the feeling of gratification that comes as you realize you had a small part in helping that grown-up become what he or she has become.

So what about the hour or so that you spend with your Mission Friends each week? You plan, you pray, you gather art supplies, you load the car, you ask questions, you tell stories, you unload the car, you gather items for next week, you guide, you listen, you research, you pray some more—and sooner or later, you may ask yourself: Does it matter? Does it really make any difference that I’m teaching these preschoolers?

Well, consider this. I know a young man who grew up attending Mission Friends and Royal Ambassadors (RA). He and his wife, who grew up in Girls in Action (GA) and Acteens, now work full time with refugees in a Midwestern city in the US, where they are raising their 3 young daughters to love their people group, as well.

I know another young woman who grew up attending Mission Friends, GA, and Acteens. She now leads missions organizations in her church and is a leader in that church’s Christian Women’s Job Corps site.

And there’s more. One of the North American missionaries we will be studying soon in Mission Friends says that, as a young GA, she learned about God’s love for the world, and especially remembered hearing about the “10-40 window” where people have little access to the gospel.

A Send City missionary that we will meet in the coming months is now planting a church in a large city in the US, but he was active in RA as a child, and his wife was a GA. An international missionary serving in South America grew up in RA and especially remembers the impression made by missionaries speaking at his church when he was young.

What about those special workers who serve in difficult, high-security areas? One special worker in Asia grew up in Mission Friends and RA—and his mother was an Acteens leader. He says, “These programs built an assumption of missions in my life.” Another special worker in South Asia grew up attending Mission Friends and GA, and now mentors young women and shares the gospel alongside her husband, while they raise their four young children. Still another special worker in Northern Africa and the Middle East says that growing up in RA set a foundation in his life for God to build upon in the future.

Of course, there are many wonderful, committed, talented missionaries and church leaders who did not grow up in WMU missions organizations—God accomplishes His mission from all kinds of directions! And it’s also true that every child in our Mission Friends classes won’t grow up to be a career missionary. But we can give them a worldview that honors God and puts missions in their young hearts.

Through Mission Friends, we can teach these little ones foundational spiritual truths that will help carry them through the challenges and hurdles of the next few decades. It makes you catch your breath when you realize they may or may not get that anywhere else. Can you see a glimmer of what God wants to do through your efforts as a Mission Friends teacher?

I once heard Carolyn Weatherford Crumpler, former executive director-treasurer of national WMU, say that she learned 4 important things as a preschool Sunbeam (the forerunner of Mission Friends):

  1. God loved her.

  2. God loved all the people of the world.

  3. All of those people of the world didn’t know that God loved them.

  4. God wanted her to go and tell them.

There’s your goal in the proverbial nutshell—can’t get much clearer than that!

And here’s 1 final example: I remember being privy to a prayer 1 Wednesday night just after Mission Friends. It was offered by a preschooler I knew (who, by the way, has now grown up to serve in his church and as a teacher in a challenging urban high school).

Here’s what he prayed: “Dear God, if somewhere there’s a place where people know about You, and right next door there’s a place where people don’t know about You, would You please send some people from the first place to go tell the people in the other place?”

Does it matter that you teach preschoolers in Mission Friends? Eternally!

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