Children's Mission Education Part V
Adopt A Missionary
by John Holzmann
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 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."
"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.
Making it Work
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.
It would be good to gear the age of your narration to the age(s) of your own children.