Mission Friends

Reflections of a Disaster Relief Worker

Disaster relief child care

This month in Mission Friends, we will learn about chaplaincy in disaster relief. Several years ago, I felt led to receive training in Disaster Relief Child Care through Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief, which is part of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief through the North American Mission Board. Though the Disaster Relief Child Care workers are not officially trained as Disaster Relief chaplains, I feel that we serve in a similar capacity to the children as we care for them and help them at the time of a disaster. I have been privileged to serve on Disaster Relief Child Care teams in a couple different places. One was a year following hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and in northeast Alabama the week following the 2011 tornadoes. These are some of my reflections on serving in disaster relief.

By All Means

By All Means

A new year brings thoughts about resolutions to eat better, exercise more, and get organized. Some people make New Year’s resolutions to get out of debt or do better at time management. Other people’s resolutions involve doing a specific task, such as walk 3 times a week. One friend resolved to try a new recipe every week. I knew another person whose New Year’s resolution was to read a book every month. I have a friend whose resolution 1 year was to run in a half marathon. She made it, too!

Many of our resolutions are about bettering ourselves, which is good. As this year begins, consider making a resolution about being involved with others in the world around you. What could you do this year to get to know the families of your Mission Friends better? It may mean stepping out to sit with a family at their preschooler’s T-ball game or taking a meal to a family with a new baby. Resolve to step out within your neighborhood to get to know families with preschoolers. You will have to be intentional about coming alongside people in order to get to know them and share your faith with them.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Preschool Resource Team

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Non-Food Treats

non-food treats

Christmas parties, goodie bags, and gift exchanges. This time of year gives us opportunities to give little treats to our preschoolers we teach in Mission Friends. What do you do if you have a preschooler with allergies? This can make all the difference in what we give and serve to preschoolers.

This year I have a preschooler who has severe allergies to food items, and we have to be very careful about what we offer to our Mission Friends. We do not want to single him out, so we serve all the preschoolers in our class the same snacks that he can have. The nature of his allergies is so severe that we always get prior approval from his mom for anything we serve.

So for Christmas when we want to give our preschoolers a special treat, what can we give? I started searching and making a list of non-food items for preschool teachers to give as treats. What other items can you add to the list?

  • Nativity ornament

  • stampers

  • fun drinking straws

  • small packages of play dough

  • silly sunglasses

  • finger puppets

  • shoelace charms

Relational People Serving a Relational Savior

Dove Family

Do you ever wonder what life is like for special workers who live internationally? What do they most enjoy about their work? How do they make connections? What are their dreams?

Zach and Jennifer Dove, IMB Church Planters in Norway, have not been called to pastor a church or lead a particular group. Instead, they spend their time working “behind the scenes.” The Doves partner with people in their communities who are interested in beginning new churches or who wish to revitalize churches that need revival and growth. They provide training and direction and discipleship for local church leadership, and they work to connect people who can meet each other’s needs.

When asked what they most enjoy about their work in Norway, the Doves share that they love meeting people and developing relationships. They enjoy hearing life stories and learning what is most important to people.

The True Meaning of Christmas

child and Nativity

What parts of Christmas do we bring into our Mission Friends classrooms at church? There are so many aspects to celebrating Christmas: shopping, gifts, cookies, candies, parties, ornaments, decorations, trees, lights, Santa, elves, snowmen, and greeting cards. There is such cuteness revolving around these aspects of Christmas, it can be easy to leave out the very meaning of Christmas. How do we focus on celebrating that God sent His Son, Jesus? How do we include some of the fun aspects of Christmas while teaching preschoolers about Jesus’ birth? The points below give suggestions for being intentional about teaching preschoolers the true meaning of Christmas.

  • Tell parts of the Christmas story from Luke 2:1–20 during each session. Look for preschool books that tell the true story. I even found a board book at a discount store that told the Christmas story in simple words.

Project HELP: PTSD Helping Families with Financial Stress

Financial difficulties

Though the song says it’s the most wonderful time of the year, for many families the Christmas season is the most stressful time of the year. This can be a particularly difficult time for parents who are under financial stress, as they struggle to provide for their family. The pressures of providing Christmas gifts for their children is great.

Financial stress for families can be caused by the loss of a job, an ongoing illness or hospitalization, divorce, or the death of a family member. Some families are in financial stress because of spending practices, credit card debt, or lack of budgeting. Be prepared to minister to families who are under financial stress.

  • Be sensitive to the needs of families who may be in situations of financial stress. Keep information confidential.

  • Be aware that financial stress is not just about money. Emotional and social issues may also be involved, such as pride, self-confidence, or loss of purpose.

  • Listen to the parent so you can determine opportunities in which you can be of help.

Step Out and Shine

Step out and Shine

“Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples; but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you” (Isa. 60:1–2 NIV1)

What a beautiful prophecy of the coming of our Lord. As we continue pondering how to step out into our world, we must immediately turn our thoughts to Jesus, our Light, who stepped from the ethereal beauty and safety of His heavenly kingdom to bring hope and life into a world overcome by darkness and fear. He stepped out boldly and with great love for his people.

During this Christmas season, spend time meditating on His willingness to step out for us. But, don’t stop there. Meditate, too, on His command that we are to “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven” (Matt. 5:16 NIV).

Allow Christ’s words to spur you to acts of compassion and service.

Introducing Preschoolers to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

December is drawing near, and our focus on the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® is growing. The Dove family, whom we will study in December, says that it is the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering that meets their daily needs and allows them to focus full-time on the work that God has called them to in Norway. Use some of the following suggestions to teach Mission Friends more about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and to encourage their families to involve them in missions giving.

Myself

Myself Cover

My Mission Friends had the most fun making self-portraits on paper plates as suggested in Mission Friends Leader  for last week. We also drew around each preschooler’s hands on a piece of paper and asked them to decorate their hands. As our preschoolers drew and colored, we talked about things we do with our hands and how God made each of us different. After Ashlyn finished drawing, she said, “Now I’ll put them together.” She put her paper plate face on the table and placed the paper hands below the plate. Then she smiled a big smile and held her own hands right below her face as if she were saying, “Ta Da! Here I am!”

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