Mission Friends

Ministering to Military Families

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You may be near a military base with many military personnel, have one military family in your church, or have a family with a member in the National Guard or Reserves. As a preschool leader in the church, this is an opportunity for you to serve these families in a special way. As they entrust their preschooler to you while at church, this may open doors for you to reach out to military families. There are also opportunities to minister to military families outside the church.

 

Each military family has its own strengths and needs. Use these ideas as possibilities for ministry to the needs of military families. Realize that these are ideas for ministry to any military family, not just to those with a family member who has PTSD. Following are ways to give care and support to all military families.

  • Commit to pray daily for the families. Send a note or message to let them know, so they can draw strength from knowing of your prayers.

  • For multiple families, set up a prayer plan among preschool teachers at church.

  • Listen with a heart of compassion.

Products for Mission Friends, Teachers, and Parents

These are just a few of our helpful books, resources and a Mission Friends T-Shirt. Many other books and resources are available as well as finger puppets and other items perfect for your preschool classroom or home! Order using the links to the WMU online store or call 1-800-968-7301.

Threes and Fours Are Growing

Grocery labels

Tenley bursts into our Mission Friends room and announces, “I’m here!” She is full of energy and ready to see what we have prepared for her to do in Mission Friends. If you teach 3-year-olds or 4-year-olds, you know how eager they are to learn. They are willing to try new activities and do new things. They also enjoy repeating favorite activities, which gives them practice at newly growing skills. How do we encourage 3s and 4s to use these newfound skills as we teach them about missions?

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:

Encouraging Kindergartners to Use Language Skills

As we sat together to share reading from a preschool book, I read the words aloud and the kindergartner interjected when we came to a word he knew. Kindergartners are beginning to learn the fundamentals of reading and writing. Throughout the year, these skills will increase. Mission Friends teachers can encourage kindergartners to use these skills in learning about missions. Separate session plans are provided for kindergarten within Mission Friends Leader in order to use their increasing skills. Know where your kindergartners are as they learn to read and write, and choose activities in which they can use these newfound skills. Following is a list of general ideas for learning about missions through these skills.

  • Write out the Bible thoughts so kindergartners can see the printed words.

  • Make charts with kindergartners about the missions area, such as Alike and Different.

  • Print signs for structures kindergartners build in the Blocks area.

Step Into the World: Love in Action

As we enter February, our thoughts move from the Christmas season to the celebration of Valentine’s Day. During this month, we spend time thinking of ways to demonstrate our love for friends and family. It is a season filled with beautiful opportunities to step into the world around us to share God’s love with others.

Dictionary.com says that the phrase step into means to “Involve oneself or intervene” in a situation. So, saying that we will step into the world to show Christ’s love infers much more than simply saying “I love you.” Stepping into the world means that we put our love into action.

John, the beloved disciple, said, “Dear Children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18 NIV1).

Step into the world. Develop a Christ-centeredness that flows into an others-centeredness. Let’s place our selfish concerns, including our fears, behind us and step out in courage and boldness. Instead of thinking of stepping into the world as a duty, begin to look at it as a privilege.

Teaching Preschoolers the Significance of Prayer

Last week, during National WMU’s all employee meeting, our executive director, Sandy Wisdom-Martin, shared excerpts of her prayer journal with us. She emphasized that prayer should not be assigned to specific times or places. Sandy’s words created a beautiful picture, "When prayer occurs with frequency and passion, communication transforms into communion. When people pray together, it creates a climate for God’s Spirit to dwell in our midst. If we lead with prayer, God can do immeasurably more in and through us."

What if our preschoolers caught this vision? Preschoolers are ripe for learning about prayer. They accept matters of faith that our jaded adult minds may not accept. From birth, we can pray with our children. As you pray with your little ones, you are building a foundation for deeper, more fervent and faithful communion with God.

Use these suggestions to help your preschoolers understand the significance of prayer for followers of Jesus:

Teaching the Christian Concept Areas

Every month in Mission Friends®, we feature one Christian concept area to be studied along with the work of missionaries around the world. The Christian concept areas can be thought of as the building blocks of spiritual formation for preschoolers. These concept areas offer us the opportunity to help preschoolers begin developing basic understandings of the Christian faith.

As you work through the interest areas and Group Time and share Bible thoughts with preschoolers, you will see that the Christian concept areas are woven throughout the components of each session. An additional resource for teaching preschoolers about the Christian concept areas is the “Missions and Me” Series of digital downloadable books.

This series gives you affordable, downloadable, and/or printable books for talking to your preschoolers about the Christian concept areas. Each book focuses on just one concept area. This series has recently been revised and updated so that each page is full-color. The books’ simple text and illustrations draw preschoolers in and open opportunities for simple conversations.

Mission Friends Leadership Certificate

Would you like to shape your leadership skills as a Mission Friends® teacher? Taking the online training courses that make up the new Mission Friends Leadership Certificate will help you sharpen your leadership skills. The following courses are included in the Leadership Certificate offered by WMU® through Develop online training. When you purchase 4 of the courses, you can get your 5th course free!

  • Leading Mission Friends—Explore the purpose of Mission Friends, the main teaching components, resources, planning, and teaching through activities and Group Time.

  • Uniquely Designed: Preschoolers—Take a look at the unique characteristics of preschoolers and how they grow physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.

  • How Preschoolers Learn—Discover the 4 learning styles of preschoolers and the ways preschoolers learn. Consider how to encourage preschoolers to learn about God and missions.

Praying for Disaster Relief Chaplains and Workers

pray for disaster relief volunteers

In one of my earliest experiences with Baptist Disaster Relief, I learned firsthand the precious value of those who support the ministry from behind the scenes.

Hurricane Hugo had devastated huge areas of our state of South Carolina. A friend from our church offered to care for our two preschool-aged children so that my husband and I could both serve with a Disaster Relief (DR) unit in a hard-hit area. Others in our church prayed as we served. The experience convinced me that those in support roles back home are just as much a part of the ministry of Disaster Relief as those on site in the disaster area.

You can be part of the DR ministry by praying for the chaplains and other volunteers who respond to offer help, hope, and healing to disaster survivors.

 

Pray for open eyes to see inner needs.

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