When We Can’t Tell Their Names

This month you will be teaching preschoolers about Martin and Debra Hasler* who are special workers in the Middle East. To guide your personal prayer for Mr. and Mrs. Hasler, please look for information about the Middle East on the Preschool Missions Focus page, at imb.org, and in trustworthy news sources. In planning your Mission Friends sessions, you may be concerned about talking to preschoolers about special workers who serve in high security areas.

Given the world’s changing social climate, we must be increasingly diligent in protecting the identities of many of our special workers. We understand that this presents a unique challenge for Mission Friends teachers. How can you teach preschoolers about special workers when you can’t show a picture or even give a real name? How do you communicate that some special workers serve in difficult positions without frightening preschoolers with too much graphic information?

Use these five suggestions to help in teaching about a missionary whose name has been changed:

  • Simply use the pseudonym assigned by the mission board. When you are praying, God knows exactly who you are praying for, and what that person needs at the moment.

  • If you choose to tell your Mission Friends that the special workers’ names have been changed, be prepared for their questions. Answer simply. Share that the special worker serves where some people don’t love God and don’t want others to love God. Never burden preschoolers with disturbing ideas. Ask your preschoolers to pray for people who don’t want to know God.

  • Check out picture books or obtain online images about the general area you are studying. Seeing pictures will give your preschoolers concrete images that will form a foundation for understanding the place the special workers serve.

  • Turn your preschoolers’ attention to the vocations of special workers. Talk about why doctors, nurses, and dentists are needed, or how a computer programmer or teacher could also be a special worker. Talk about ways the special workers use their careers to tell of God’s love. Ask preschoolers to think of other jobs and brainstorm how people in those jobs can tell others about God’s love.

  • Emphasize how we all need to tell others about God’s love as we go about our everyday lives. Share how special workers can make friends at coffee shops, gyms, and even local grocery stores and markets. Use this concept as a springboard to discuss ways that preschoolers can make friends and invite them to church.

Sometimes it helps to step away from the details and focus for a moment on the big picture. Through Mission Friends, preschoolers develop their understanding of God’s love for people of other races and nationalities. They hear Bible thoughts that teach them about Jesus and their world. They learn about the needs of people throughout the world and the ways that those needs are being met by people who care. As you focus on these broader concepts, remember that, even if you can’t share a missionary’s real name, you have the unique opportunity to lay a foundation of love for missions as you lead preschoolers to pray for missionaries, to give to missions, and to be involved in missions. 

Never forget that your work is a stepping stone in your preschoolers’ path toward a life-long commitment to missions. 

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