20 Ideas for Raising Globally-Minded Kids
My parents have four children, and we reside on four different continents: My sister teaches art in England, one aids refugees on the Thai-Burmese border, one is changing her world in the States as a nurse and a mother—and me, raising our four kids in Uganda.
I love that my family has a vision beyond itself (admittedly, holidays can be a bit of a downer). But how can we instill a global, Great-Commission worldview in our own kids? Will they reject myopic entitlement for God-sized purpose? If you’re eager for mission-minded, compassionate kids, start with these practical solutions.
1. “Adopt” a refugee family for holidays, medical or immigration appointments, and the other realities they’re facing.
2. Post a map within kids’ reach on the wall. Every night, let them pick a country to pray for. Resources like Window on the World: When We Pray, God Works are fascinating to help kids pray specifically—and with pictures—for countries they may never have heard of. Consider placing a sticker or pushpin on the countries for which you’ve prayed.
3. Learn about the persecuted church. Check out www.kidsofcourage.com—a service of Voice of the Martyrs—dedicated to “exchanging strength with Christian kids around the world who risk all for Jesus Christ.”
4. Fast, or eat only beans and rice, for a day or two as you pray for those in poverty.
5. In discussions, differentiate between first-world and developing-nation problems. Help kids to see their difficulties in perspective of what the majority of the world, living in poverty, is facing—not in a way that belittles their problems, but that cultivates a heart of gratitude.
6. Shop with your kids to stuff shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Encourage them to use some of their own cash.
7. Maybe it’s Rosetta Stone, classes at the library, or a foreign exchange student—but together, learn a foreign language.
8. Facilitate pen pal relationships with a sponsored child or missionary kid.
9. Help your kids to start lists of what they’re grateful for. This may seem like a tangent, but training our eyes in gratitude is a way of taking them off ourselves, away from entitlement and setting them toward all God has given.
10. Host an international student for dinner—or longer. Remember: We have access to share Christ with people from closed countries…who live right down the street!
11. Send a care package to a missionary family. E-mail them to find out what items they can’t obtain or would enjoy. Ask your kids if they’d like to contribute from the giving portion of their allowance.
12. Dial child sponsorship up a notch. Check out the kids’ corner at Compassion.com, which has a number of interactive activities to increase kids’ understanding—and even take a virtual tour of four countries where Compassion works. Send photos and coloring pages, and take turns writing letters.
13. Hold a contest or set a goal (“Pizza night!”) to memorize and discuss Scriptures like these:
- Matthew 28:19-20
- Ephesians 6:18-20
- Colossians 1:28-29
- Acts 2:46-47
- Isaiah 58
- Romans 10:9-10
- Psalm 2:8
- Revelation 7:9-10
- 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
- Ezekiel 22:30
14. Commit a regular night to “give yourselves away” in a family service project or outreach.
15. Teach kids to share the gospel. Emphasize building disciples, not just winning souls. Talk about ways you share your faith, how to ask good questions that lead toward spiritual discussions, and how to share your story as an avenue for sharing Jesus.
16. Help kids to delay gratification: by saving money to buy something, waiting for certain privileges, working toward a goal, etc. We can also, as parents, not rush around to meet their non-essential needs, and train them to serve and work hard instead. Smothering entitlement in perseverance can help our kids to understand more of what the rest of the world endures. It also equips our kids with endurance to live in foreign cultures.
17. Pray about whether God would have your family explore adoption. If now is not the time, step in to help a family who’s adjusting to their own adoption or foster care.
18. Sign up for Compassion’s monthly prayer calendar to regularly pray for specific children struggling with extraordinary circumstances in poverty. You might post it on the bathroom mirror for use during teeth-brushing time.
19. Study the book of Acts together, with help from lessons and activities like these.
20. Host a missionary. Ask good questions.