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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?

  • Ÿ3s and 4s are still developing the large muscles of their arms, and progressing to the hands and fingers. Use the large-size paper at the easel for painting or at the table for drawing so there is room for their arm to sweep across the page. The thicker preschool crayons and paintbrushes allow for easier gripping with their hand muscles.

  • ŸGive opportunities for 3s and 4s to manipulate objects or move things around. Provide cardboard tubes and blocks for them to build Middle Eastern buildings in Blocks. Using the large wooden beads to make patterns helps them use their hands in moving the beads around.

Perfect Love Drives Out Fear

What’s your biggest fear? Is it spiders? Snakes? Speaking in public? Loneliness? Rejection? We tend to think of the “easy” fears first, like animals or insects, but when we get deeper, it gets uncomfortable. I’ll just be honest. I am afraid to fail. I love to do the right thing and get it just perfect, but sometimes I don’t let myself do something because I am afraid I will totally botch it up.

I’ve shared a little bit about my 20-month-old, Brady, and the fact that I’m due any day now with my little girl, Sophie. I’d be lying if I said the fact that my children will be this close together doesn’t make me more than slightly nervous. For starters, Brady and I are BFFs. I know that a lot of moms love their babies, but I’m serious, y’all—I laugh real live adult laughs at this child. The idea that I might miss one single thing that he does terrifies me and also makes me really sad. I love watching him learn about the world and show off all of his new skills.

One Step at a Time

In one family photo, Dave is holding a 2-year-old girl. In another, a 4-year-old boy. In yet another, three children stand with Dave and his wife, Kara. Each photo represents a step in the journey Dave and Kara have been on since they became foster parents.

When Kara first mentioned foster parenting, Dave was uncertain. Could he love a child coping with unimaginable emotional or physical pain? How would he respond in love to the biological parents of these children? Would he be able to pour his heart into a child and then say goodbye?

Saying yes to God’s call on his life to become a foster dad required a huge leap of faith for Dave, but the rewards of trying something new for the sake of the Gospel have been great.

In his book Faith & Foster Care: How We Impact God's Kingdom, Dr. John DeGarmo emphasizes the need for foster parents who are willing to put feet to their faith and love the estimated 400,000 children who are in the foster care system. Who better than followers of Jesus to teach these children that God knows and loves them?

Time to Celebrate

The big 1-0! Double digits!

That’s right! This Saturday, February 18, marks the tenth annual Children’s Ministry Day. It’s a special day set aside for children all over the country to “Love Your Neighbor.”

It’s a major achievement, and we want you to help us make it an extra-special day!

Looking for a last-minute activity you can quickly pull together?

Celebrate the day by creating special birthday bags for children whose families may not be able to otherwise provide a party. Follow these simple steps:

At-home Missions Discipleship? Yes!

Our team recently released an at-home missions discipleship product that my 7-year-old son and I have already enjoyed together. For the Children’s Resource Team, the process started over a year ago when we began to investigate a concept of an at-home product for families to use together to learn about missions work happening somewhere in the world. Missions in a Box was born from this research and many conversations.

When Missions in a Box: Thailand released, I took one of the first kits home to my 7-year-old. He and I spent time reading through and learning facts about Thailand. We even made a craft together.

Below is my Facebook post from that evening:

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:

The Faith Still Stands

My friends Diana and John Lewis served faithfully as your North American Mission Board (NAMB) missionaries. John was a palliative care chaplain. Diana served as a church and community ministries missionary. They were featured week of prayer missionaries in the spring of 2007. Diana remembers vividly the very day millions prayed for them. John had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Hospital tests on that day would reveal the extensive cancer that would take John’s life three short months later.

A Lack of Skill

I have a really bad habit of doing a quick self-assessment of my skills whenever the Lord gives me an opportunity to share the gospel.

For example, I see someone sitting alone in the cafeteria and the Spirit starts tugging. I immediately think, “Great! I’m really good at starting conversations and I can tell funny stories. This will be easy.” Or someone will tell me a struggle they’re going through and I get excited because of all my “knowledge” on the subject.

I became aware of this bad habit one day while working at a summer camp. My camp director asked me if I would spend my free time in the gym. Normally I spent my free time close to the snack canteen, bonding with middle school girls over card games and frozen soft drinks, and I wasn’t too excited to try something new.

Especially when that something new was the gym.

I’m 5’1, and my basketball days ended in about middle school. I had absolutely no skills in order to be effective in this area. But even so, I made my way to the gym and prayed that the Lord would use my time in the gym.

Minister around the Town

Children’s Ministry Day is an excellent way to involve not only your Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors or Children in Action in missions but also their parents. Too often, parents drop their children off and head to the grocery store or back home and miss the opportunity to be on mission with them. Our church’s theme of Random Acts of Kindness was tailor-made for family fun.

After being given a list of suggested random acts of kindness, the teams were on their way. Items to help perform these acts were available for each team to use. Small boxes of laundry detergent and dryer sheets for visits to a laundromat, bags of microwave popcorn to be taped to DVD rental machines, blank self-stick removable notes for writing uplifting messages to be left on restroom mirrors or in library books, bubbles to be left on doorsteps, and sidewalk chalk for more messages were just some of the items. Each act of kindness was accompanied by an invitation to visit our church.

Love in Action

Children’s Ministry Day has become a much-anticipated annual event for our church. Each year, we choose a country, and members of our team lead the children in playing games, creating art, and eating food from that country. We talk about similarities and differences between our culture and that of the focal country. We emphasize the work missionaries are doing in the region and pray for them and their ministry.

We also spend time preparing for a local missions project. Last year, the children decorated cards with drawings and a Bible verse. We attached each card to a loaf of bread. After lunch, leaders took teams of children to a heavily trafficked area in town to give out the bread along with the message that “Jesus is the bread of life.” Our kids learned that people respond in many different ways to the Gospel but that does not stop us from sharing the Good News.

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