I can pronounce Cote d'lvoire and find it on a map. That's because I teach about missions in Girls in Action, a children's program at my church. I have been teaching GA for about sixteen years, but this is my first encounter with this African country. We learn about such a variety of missionaries that we rarely study the same place twice. Not only can I locate this country, so can most of the girls in my second grade class.
However, we not only know where a country is located, we learn about the people and the culture. Did you know that whole frogs are a delicacy in Cote d'lvoire? Imagine getting to eat a whole frog, bones and all!
I have learned about everything from surfing missionaries to cowboy missionaries. Some work in jungles and some have mystery names in mystery places because it isn't safe for the details to be published. Others work in cities with the rich or the poor. They may help the homeless or children living in the inner city. Some are doctors and nurses. Some start businesses in other countries. Some are teachers and some work in offices helping missionaries get what they need. Recently we learned about chaplains and emergency relief workers.
In some areas of Africa, the people are so poor that the average life span is only thirty-two. Missionaries in these areas sense the urgency of telling every person about the love of God in sending his Son Jesus because the next day they may get sick and die.
Why do I teach about missions? Because as Christians, we are called to go into all the world and make disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20) The more children hear about missions and the great variety of opportunities, the easier it will be for them to make the decision to go and tell others as well.
Romans 10:13-15 says that we need to send preachers to everyone so they can be saved. We need to SEND them. That includes keeping them in prayer and supporting them. Children can pray and bring offerings. They also can learn to tell their friends about the good news of Jesus.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
During this Christmas season, I want to remember the missionaries who have given up the comforts of home to go and serve others. I pray that I can do my part here in my own neighborhood as well!