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January 1988


Editorial Comment

Facts and Fallacies

Christian Groups Reset World Evangelization Goal for Year 2000

COMIBAM '87 - Mission Meeting of the Century

Children's Mission Education Part 1 - Mission Centered Education?

Children's Mission Education Part 2 - Ele Parrott: One Woman's Story

Children's Mission Education Part 3 - Geri Templeton: A Time for Everything

Children's Mission Education Part 4 - Starting Your Own Program

Children's Mission Education Part 5 - Adopt a Missionary

Children's Mission Education Part 6 - Workshop Spurs Curriculum Production

Children's Mission Education Part 7 - Children's Mission Curriculum Sources

Beyond the Campaign: Excerpts from a Speech by Ralph Winter to the USCWM Staff

Beyond the Campaign: A Mission Renewal Movemnt

Around the World

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Children's Mission Education Part V

Adopt A Missionary

by John Holzmann

Personal relationships with missionaries and missionary kids are vital if mission education is to be effective. Geri Templeton explains her philosophy for helping to make such relationships happen.

D ear Class," the letter begins. "I am very  sorry that I didn't write earlier. But as you can see in one of the pictures, I spend a lot of time on homework." 

Nathan Crandall's letter, surrounded by photographs, is the focal point of a large, brightly-colored poster entitled "A note from Germany."

"Hi. I'm Daniel Peckham," reads the caption beneath a fetching color photograph on page two of a 16-page loose-leaf photo album. "Some people call me Daniel Lobo because I live in a village called Lobo. I'm a year and a half old, so I'm big enough to walk around exploring this fun place."

Accompanied by a cassette tape narration, the photo album introduces Daniel to his friends in the pre-school department of Calvary Church.

These are just two of many graphic means Geri Templeton, director of children's ministries at Calvary Church, Santa Ana, California, uses to keep missionary kids (MKs) in the hearts and minds of their peers "back home" in the Sunday school of Calvay Church.

Templeton urges that, besides MK peers, every Sunday school class should have at least one adult missionary assigned to it as part of an "adopt a missionary" or "missionary care" program.

Class members and adopted missionaries are encouraged to correspond with one another, and whenever the missionaries are home on furlough, they're always invited to speak to their class.

Templeton says such policies not only enhance the overall Sunday school missionary education program but they provide special care for the adopted missionaries and MKs.

In terms of training, Templeton says, when there's a personal relationship between a missionary on the field and the students in a class, it encourages the students to give and pray. "When missionaries come home, you find out how your giving and praying has helped"÷a major boon for the Sunday school training programs in giving and praying.

Besides helping to train children in the disciplines of giving and praying, personal relationships with missionaries can lead to a transfer of the missionaries' vision and burden÷things that are "caught, not taught" according to Templeton.

"When (adopted) missionaries come home, I ask them to talk about why they decided to go to the field. I ask, 'Hey, do you need more missionaries?' And of course they do. The kids get a feel for what the needs really are."

Beyond the training value for the Sunday school students, adopted missionaries and MKs themselves enjoy the care they receive.

All MKs supported by Calvary Church are considered regular members of their age-appropriate Sunday school classes. Each week when roll is taken, they are checked off as "Not Present."

"Oh!" the teacher will exclaim, "Freddy's not here again! Why's that?" "He's in the Philippines!!" the children chorus. ÷A simple means to help them remember Freddy and know all about him when he shows up three years later.

Another "care" item Calvary Church MKs receive is a Friendship Book. It's a photo album/ scrap book with "All About Me" sheets and pictures from all the kids in their Sunday school class. "All About Me" includes basic information about each child; about their brothers and sisters, pets, favorite foods, colors, games, Bible stories, subjects in school; hobbies and collections; a typical day's schedule; "something about the country I'm in"; anything else the child wants to say about him or herself; and prayer requests. Each MK, in turn, sends a photo and "All About Me" sheet to his class.

When an MK comes home, there's a "Welcome Home" party; when he goes back, there's a "Goodbye" party. Birthday, Valentine, and Christmas cards are also part of the deal. MKs and their North American peers are also encouraged to participate in a pen-pal program.

"In every way possible, the MKs are integrated into"the program and made to feel a part of the class," Templeton says.

Making it Work

Those who have tried ""adoption" programs as suggested here make some recommendations for success.

1. Geri Templeton urges: ""Have a ''care person' to make the care program work." You need someone who will take responsibility, oversee the details, and encourage participation.

2. When missionaries are in town, don't miss the opportunity! Bring them into the classroom.

Many missionaries are uncomfortable speaking to children; they don't know how to relate. So Templeton suggests doing an interview: ""You can take a very boring, ungifted speaker, someone who is ill-at-ease with children, and make him come alive by just interviewing him and asking him questions. It puts the person at ease."

Ele Parrott mentioned an experience where a missionary mechanic, a man inexperienced in speaking to groups of any kind, much less children, was asked to bring a machine similar to those he worked on in the field. He brought a generator. When turned on, the generator produced a spectacular spark display. ""We darkened the room so the kids could see them. It was a great show!" And the kids were fascinated as the man spoke about his world--things with which he was totally at home and comfortable.

3. Pictures--photos, slides, videos--are essential, Templeton believes. Children need the ""immediacy" such resources provide. 

To help missionaries provide the best pictures, Calvary Church sends its missionaries a ""Suggested Slides or Snaps for Use with Our Children's Mission Program" sheet.

""Slides or snaps of your children, and tapes narrated by (or including) them are of great value to our Children's Missionary Program," they say. ""Subjects of special interest to the children are:

Food (They're big on food!)
How does the language sound?
Music (singing; instruments)
What does a typical father do?
What does a typical mother do?
What do you do?
Children's friends
Market, stores, shopping
Village (or city) life in general
Is there a place to swim, etc.?
Games, toys
Do your children like living where you are serving? Are they happy there?
Are you happy to be serving where you are? Are more missionaries needed where you are?
For use with 4th, 5th, and 6th graders, include:
What is the nature of the government, and what is available in higher schooling?

It would be good to gear the age of your narration to the age(s) of your own children. 

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