Children's Leaders

Connecting the Dots: Help Start a New Missions Organization

Do you remember doing connect the dot puzzles when you were a kid? As you traced your pen from dot to dot, a picture was slowly revealed. It was fun and exciting without being labor intensive.

Did you know that helping other churches set up missions groups is much the same? Each new program is a dot that helps reveal the picture of God’s work in your area. By working together in our own special ministry locations, we add more dimension to the picture—opportunities to reach more people with the gospel.

Just like the childhood puzzle, it is fun and exciting without being labor intensive. You don’t have to worry about where to place the dots, because churches already exist in the communities of your association. You don’t have to fret over who will participate—churches know their members and their communities. Your joy is in sharing missions organizations for children. Share your loves, passions, and thrills. Excitement is contagious, and the gospel is the most exciting news ever!

Family Traditions

Country music fans are probably familiar with the song titled “Family Traditions.” It plays quite frequently on the radio.

This weekend, that song went through my mind as I remembered my family's tradition of putting up Christmas decorations during Thanksgiving weekend. Back in my childhood days, my father, brother, and I would head out to the woods to look (for what seemed like hours) for the perfect Christmas tree. Finally, once we had found the perfect tree, my dad would take the axe and cut it down. Then, we’d head home and get the tree ready to be decorated. For the next few hours, we’d pull out old decorations, lights, and even that long, stringy, silver tinsel that wound up everywhere but on the tree.

Tips for Keeping Older Kids Engaged in Missions Education

As you have probably noticed, kids have short attention spans. Often, a large dose of creativity is required to keep their attention for even a few minutes at a time.

A practical way to keep older kids engaged in missions education is by varying presentation methods. This takes time and preparation. As the missions leader, you must plan ahead to provide an assortment of informational items.

You can use the Internet to show videos about the focus country or people group. This is a great way to find a wealth of information, but be sure to preview any search results beforehand to avoid inappropriate material. Some older kids may be interested in becoming pen pals with a group of children or MKs in another country. As the leader, you can use social media to facilitate these interactions!

Don’t be afraid of trying foods from the area you are focusing on. Recipes are readily available and sometimes include suggestions for substitutions if something unusual is not accessible at your local grocery store. Kids will be delighted to try different dishes, especially if you eat it first!

Catching Up with Donna Shelenhamer

WMU is honored to interview Donna Shelenhamer, a longtime Girls in Action leader. Donna has taught Girls in Action for 52 years and counting. She felt a calling to missions when she was young and wanted to share her passion, so she began teaching first- and second-grade GA groups and fifth-grade boys in Sunday School. Her most vivid memory from teaching GA is something that occurs at every recognition service: she always says, “This is the best group I’ve ever had!” and genuinely means it every year.

All Aboard the Kindness Express! IMS: Russia

In early October, Janet Erwin (Missions Mosaic editor) and I traveled to Appling, Georgia, to experience this year’s International Mission Study (IMS) at Patty Blanton’s farm. For nearly 20 years, Patty has sought fun, creative, interactive, and meaningful ways to provide an unforgettable IMS experience for the Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors of Kiokee Baptist Church and Damascus Baptist Church. It was an invitation we did not want to miss!

As we turned down the gravel drive leading to her farm, the brightly painted onion domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral peered through the clearing in the trees. Just around the curve, the whole facade of the barn had been transformed into the iconic symbol of Russia, welcoming everyone to a whole new world. I knew then that we were in for a treat! Patty’s husband later exclaimed, “I can see Russia in my backyard!”  

Time for Appreciation

October is recognized as Pastor Appreciation Month in many churches.

It’s not too late to recognize your pastor and church staff, whether you choose to do it corporately as a church or as an individual. Here are some quick thoughts on how to recognize the leaders God has placed in your church.

Missionaries, Cookies, Kids, and Stickers

A few weeks ago, we learned about a missionary who bakes cookies and shares them with neighbors in an effort to eventually share the gospel with this new friend. Making cookies to become someone’s friend and eventually tell him or her about Jesus seemed like a very long process to my GAs.

“Why not just tell them that Jesus loves them?” one of my first-grade GAs asked.

This conversation led to a discussion about what it means to be a friend, why we do nice things for people, and how being nice to someone may make him or her want to be our friend.

We waded through a ton of comments and questions.

“I don’t have to give people cookies to be friends with them.”

“Does the missionary keep any of the cookies for herself?”

“Does she get to pick who she gives the cookies to?”

By the end of the discussion, I realized that my first-grade GAs were not going to fully understand this concept until they tried it for themselves.

Because I didn’t have cookies or the time to make them, I did the next best thing.

Christmas in August Update

As a kid, Christmas Eve was a day I looked forward to all year long! Christmas Eve was when Santa would stop by our house and bring us presents. Every year, I was so excited about what was to come that I’d voluntarily put myself to bed extra early with hopes that the morning would come sooner. I would not sleep under the covers on Christmas Eve. You see, my mother had a rule that we could not leave our rooms each morning (including Christmas morning) until our beds were made. So, on Christmas Eve I would sleep (if I slept at all) on top of the covers so that I could prevent the 2–3-minute delay of getting to my presents!

I often wonder if that’s how Christmas in August missionaries feel as they approach WMU’s focus on their ministries. Are they excited? Curious about what to expect? A little concerned about how many RAs, GAs, or CAs might give in support of their work? More than likely, there’s a mix of emotions going through their minds as they wait for Christmas in August to roll around.

Are you familiar with Christmas in August? A little history might be good at this point.

Sharing Jesus' Love in Times of Tragedy

Do your kids understand the importance of the Great Commission? Do they truly? It might seem like a silly question to ask of you as a missional leader, but it’s time for a little examination.

It’s hard to ignore tragedies in this world (and we shouldn’t try). The tragedies we’ve seen both very recently and in the more distant past make a few things hit home: we don’t know what the next day holds; this world needs the love of Jesus; and we have the responsibility to make His love known.

Now, more than ever, it’s time to double down on teaching kids to share God’s love with the world. With all of the tragedies we see happening on the news, it becomes more and more imperative to reach lost people in this world. The Great Commission has always been imperative, but the tragedies we read about, witness, or experience tend to make that more clear.

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