Raising Kids With A Heart for the World

As a young teenager through my junior high and high school years, you could have seen me frequently reading a missionary biography. I was inthralled in the adventures of the lives of missionaries in China, Philippines, and Indonesia. One such account of a young 19 year old single woman in the Philippines inspired my heart with a passion to visit this country one day. In fact, most of my schooling was composed mainly of this delight directed studying. I learned geography, demographics, culture, and people groups. I attended several missions conferences, explored various parts of the world through mission trips, and in time coordinated many outreach events and mission trips to the nations.

To this day, my heart rings with a love for the nations. I desire to make every effort that my children in turn would have a heart for the lost, hungry, and suffering people of the world and want to give their lives to serve them – whether through their physical or monetary service. There is nothing like visiting a third world country to get a life-changing awakening to the abundance we have in our lives, and a fresh call to simplicity in order that our lives might be given as a blessing to others.

Today, I want to share a few simple ideas of ways that you can help inspire your children with a love for the nations, encouraging a respect for all the unique people groups and cultures of the world, throughout their childhood and teenage years. There are many seeds that can be planted in their hearts through which God can change nations. Travel with me to the nations!

1. Read, read & read some more!

Reading is the first key to planting seeds of inspiration in the hearts of our children for the world. Do you want to cultivate imagination and excitement in your children’s hearts? Missionary biographies and adventures are some of the greatest resources to accomplish this. When we read about the sacrifices, suffering, and glorious victories, our hearts beat with excitement, exhorting ourselves to live on the edge. Begin reading simple missionary accounts when your children are young, such as the Hero Tales series. These recommendations provide some of the best read aloud materials for family times together:

Preschool Age: For some excellent preschool age resources, check out the Caleb Project. Resources such as Everybody Ought to Know including 7 lessons for preschoolers on biblical missional worldview will be very useful this year with my little girl.

Hero Tales – an appropriate series for read aloud to all ages or for personal reading ages 9-12, detailing the lives of 15 heros of the faith in each of the volumes of this series. Short stories with anecdotes of their lives.

International Adventures Series - this is my favorite series of books for junior high through high school age, as they detail more specifically and graphically into the lives of missionaries. I read every book in this series, such as Against All Odds, Living on the Devil’s Doorstep, Totally Surrounded, and others are highly recommended.

Christian Heros: Then & Now by YWAM – an amazing series of books that needs to be on every Christian families bookshelf! They will provide you with amazing true stories of the lives of missionaries for a long time. Perfect read alouds for families or personal reading for ages 9-12. Also available through Amazon.

A few of my other favorite titles include: Bruchko, Missionary Patriarch, Heavenly Man, From Jerusalem to Iran Jaya, and My Heart in His Hands.

Mission Minded Family & Mission Minded Child by Ann Dunagan – inspiring resources with an abundance of ideas for incorporating missions activities in every day life.

Mission Minded Homeschooling Curriculum – Ann Dunagan has compiled a free downloable homeschooling curriculum with a focus on world missions. Let the nations be the center piece of all your teaching methods – you can read about it, teach history and geography, and write about it!

2. Pray for the World

Pray is another valuable seed that will encourage a heart of compassion for the world. The prayers of a righteous man avails much! Purchase a world map, mark all the missionaries you know, and start praying on their behalf. Use prayer tools such as Window On the World, which is an excellent resource for young children to teach them about the world, the various needs and strongholds in every country and specific needs to pray for. I used this tool with my younger siblings while teaching geography and what a foundation it established in our hearts.

Growing Up Prayerful – another tool that will inspire prayer warriors among your children!
Kids Prayer Cards – prayer cards of 25 different children around the world detailing their lives, and includes activity cards that give you everything you need to paint tribal art, make an Indian snack, and meet and make friends with internationals in your own neighborhood.

Check out the Caleb Project for a wealth of resources for prayer.

3. Cook Around the World

Kids Around the World Cook! is a useful cookbook with recipes from cultures around the world that you can prepare with your children. What better way to learn about the world as you discuss the food, flavors, people, and culture around the dinner table through interesting foods of all kinds.

4. Take a family mission trip together

My parents were committed to taking each of us eight children on at least one mission trip with them during our teenage years. The fruit of this practice is immeasureable! I had the pleasure of participating on a mission team with my dad for the first time at age 15 to the Dominican Republic. I witnessed my dad’s love to serve and minister to others. I returned the following year with my dad and older brother. We labored together, hand in hand, to meet the needs of others. At 18, I went to Cambodia on my own for 2 months. The following year I returned with my younger sister. How many glorious laughs we shared together on that experience!

Shortly after getting married, my husband and I went on a mission team to Russia along with my mother, and two sisters. What an amazing experience! Yes, mission trips cost money, but the investment is worth it! Not only will it bring further bonding in family relationships, but your witness of serving as a family together has great impact in other cultures. Don’t miss out on the opportunity of taking your child on a mission trip – it was one of the most significant moments in my life that drew me to Christ and inspired me to desire to live for eternity.

5. Give generously to the cause

Can you set aside a portion of your monthly income to give to a missionary or missions agency? Partner with your children so they see where the money going. Pray together each month about where you should send the money. Sponsor a child. Send notes of encouragement and prayers to missionaries together. See lives blessed and changed through your support.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:21)

Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.

It’s never too early to get your passports and be prepared to be used by Christ to do great things for the Kingdom! Don’t underestimate the power of cultivating these simple habits and investing in the souls of your children. I can testify from personal experience, my parents’ faithfulness has made a world of difference in my life and perspective!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

20 Responses to Raising Kids With A Heart for the World

  1. Kait Palmer April 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    What a great wealth of resources! I was similar in that I read missionary stories from a very young age…except I read adult versions and knew a lot of it was over my head. We’re just expecting our first baby girl, but I’m already beginning to think about homeschooling and incorporating a lot of what you talked about into what we teach our kids. Thanks so much!

  2. Jill Foley March 23, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    So I found you through the Compassion bloggers page – checking out everyone going on the next trip. I love this post in particular and thought I would mention my new blog – Compassion Family. It’s a place where we can celebrate, experience and share the joy of sponsorship as families. My own passions are my family and Compassion – as I advocate for children and Compassion, I want to encourage people to get their entire family involved in the sponsorship experience.

    It’s a fairly new endeavor and I’m trying to get the word out. I have heard of some of the resources you mentioned in this post, but will be checking many of the others out soon.

    I look forward to following your journey to the Philippines. Sadly, I just lost our girl we sponsored for 8 years there. She is 16 and decided to work as a waitress instead of staying in school.

  3. crohns diet July 13, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    I like this website…good info. Will keep it as a favorite. Is there a twitter page?

  4. Jen June 15, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    Not a missionary biography per se, but one of my favorites, Vanya (by Myra Grant I believe) is a gripping account of Ivan Mosiev’s time as a Christian in the Soviet Army and his subsequent martyrdom.

  5. Michelle June 13, 2010 at 5:13 am #

    It has been almost a year since we started our first sponsorship of a child through Compassion International (http://www.comapassion.com ) and I can’t even begin to count all of the ways our lives have been changed. I have seen our daughters go from obsessing over American Girl dolls to wanting to give up Christmas gifts in order to send money to our Compassion children. We now have 6 Compassion sons and daughters in our lives and they are a daily reminder of how blessed we are and how we can truly HELP others. Click the link to my blog to read more about our journey with Compassion! Bless you for this post!

  6. Becky June 12, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

    wow great post. I cant wait to read some of those books. How wonderful to hear from a homeschool graduate whose parents did a great job instill a heart for the world in their child.

  7. Kika June 12, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

    Wow! Love hearing about your own homeschool days. Wish I could know how your parents set up their budget to include savings for missions – especially with a larger family. I also grew up in a large family and some of my younger siblings were able to go on mission trips with my parents – but I was already married by then. I will check out some of the resources you listed for my own children.

  8. Courtney (WomenLivingWell) June 12, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    Wonderful post! We love missionary stories in our house too! My son especially loves the bravery and adventure displayed in the stories. And we love keeping in contact with our church missionaries and having them into our home when they are on furlough!

    My mom gave me Elizabeth Elliot’s book – “Through Gates of Splendor” when I was 16 and that birthed my desire to want to go to the Moody Bible Institute and be a missionary. Well I went to Moody but I didn’t become a missionary lol!- although I do consider my blog a ministry!

    Love you site!

  9. Jessica @ Life as I See It June 11, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    Beautiful! Thanks for this post :)
    We desire to create a love for the world in our children too. I am going to check out the links you shared as most of them are new to me!

    I spent a year in West Africa when I graduated from high school – talk about life changing! My grandparents are missionaries there so I lived with them and taught English and helped with marking Bible courses and whatever else I could be useful in. It was incredible.

  10. Elizabeth June 11, 2010 at 8:08 am #

    Hi there! Great post! Thanks for the suggestions! What would you say is the age range on “From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya”? I was contemplating purchasing that one as we go through our studies this fall, but my crew is younger so I wasn’t sure if it would be beneficial to them at this stage of the game.

    Along these lines, another thing that I think is important to keep in mind is that God has placed all of us where we are. As we cultivate a heart for missions in our children (and develop our own), let us remember the words of Christ just before His resurrection (Acts 1:8, ESV):

    “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

    Jerusalem was the city in which they dwelt; Judea was the outlying area; Samaria was further out yet. The message to the disciples would have been clear: start at home and move out. We have a great opportunity to cultivate within our children a servant heart toward immediate family members, a heart that loves the lost and needy within our own church and community, and continue circling out to the wider world. Let us use missions materials to stir our children to see local needs and begin meeting them where we can.

    This is both a challenge to myself and others who may be reading. ;) Again, thanks for sharing all of the thoughts and resources!! Can’t wait to check out the new-to-me ones!


  11. Traci June 11, 2010 at 8:08 am #

    I’m fairly new to your blog, and it is now one of my very, very favorites!! I’ve already made your blender waffles, black bean wraps, deodorant (LOVE it!), and last night I made your almond-based protein bars, and we even soaked our nuts first! We just ate some for our morning snack, and my 2.5 year old, Isaac, thought they were wonderful! Each of us really like the Trader Joes almond-flax bars, but they are $3.99/bag, and we go through them quickly. And, I’m trying to cut out as much processed food as possible. I have Crohn’s disease, and over the past 2 months, I’ve been radically switching my diet to more of a whole foods, traditional diet, though we previously ate lots of organic and natural products. Now, we’re using raw milk, pastured butter and eggs and grass fed beef. I’ve reduced my medication by 50% and hope to kick it to the curb completely within the next year!
    Also, your recent post certainly speaks to my heart. The Lord burdened me with a passion to help with the food crisis, especially in Africa. I’ve started a mission feeding project called Project SSAM – supporting mission feeding throughout South Africa, Sudan, Angola and Mozambique. Our goal is to raise $10,000! Please check out the webpage at http://www.ambassadorsforlife.org/traci. Also, Project SSAM is the featured ambassador page on the website. If you go to ambassadorsforlife.org and click on “find an ambassador” you’ll see a glimpse of our story. Feel free to pass this link to others who might be interested in contributing. It’s a great way for kids to get involved as well. Many children are becoming ambassadors and raising money for wells, rescue centers, and mission feeding! It’s very sweet and encouraging! Life Outreach International is the organization, and it’s awesome to see them being the hands and feet of Christ. If you click on Project SSAM’s webpage, wait a few minutes and a video of Beth Moore will appear w/her “miracle child”, Matthew. I hope to someday go to Africa as well with my family.
    This post was a bit rambly, but I just want you to know how thankful I am for your site. Lastly, on my blog, I’ve written a few nice things about you, and hopefully more and more people will vist and benefit from your site! Thanks so much for all of your hard work and devotion!

    • Becky June 11, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

      Tracy, I too have Crohn’s disease. I have had it for 2 years now, and am not on any medications. I have found that eating legumes really helps me to not have any symptoms. It’s the soluble fiber in them that does the trick. (Along with eating the same nutritious foods that you have been eating.) I thank God that this was made known to me, because the doctors said I would have to be on the medication for life, and colon removal was probably in my future. I praise Him, and I tell anyone that I can about it. Karen Hurd is a nutritionist who practices in Fall Creek, WI; who has been helping people to heal using beans and other supplements for years. I read her book and tried her plan, lo and behold it works! Her book is titled “And they said it wasn’t possible…” She is also a christian. If you can, I would recommend checking your local library to see if they have it.
      God Bless,

      • Traci June 15, 2010 at 9:01 am #

        Thanks for your tips! I will have to check out this book! I plan on reading the Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin. I’m trying to do all that I can with the Lord’s guidance to better myself physically! It’s wonderful to hear about your success story! I hope your healing continues! God bless you always!

  12. Melissa June 11, 2010 at 4:38 am #

    Love this post! Just Wednesday evening, my husband and I taught our youth group on the importance of missions and showed them videos on missions in the Phillippines and Nigeria. They were obviously touched and it was wonderful to see our teenagers starting to grasp how much we need to reach out to our world. Next up is planning a missions trip with them. We don’t know where we’re going but I’m so excited to experience this with them!

  13. Tammy June 11, 2010 at 4:15 am #

    I LOVE this post…I don’t have children, but if I do someday, I want my children to have a heart for the world and missions as well. I would like to add that, in addition to praying for the lost all over the world, I want my children to know that they have brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world, many of them suffering for their faith. They need our passionate prayers too, to stay strong in the faith. I am a HUGE aupporter of Voice of the Martyrs, and I think they have some resources for kids, including stuff about praying for others believers and even writing letters to our brothers and sisters in prison for their faith! Thanks for the post! I would recommend the book “Becoming a World Changing Family” too!

  14. Morgan June 11, 2010 at 4:01 am #

    I just finished reading Mission Minded Child and was wanting even more information! Thanks for this post! I have a 4 year old, 2 year old, and another on the way and I have a strong desire to give them a heart for missions. I can’t wait to order some of these materials and do even more with them!

  15. Karen June 11, 2010 at 3:08 am #

    May our Father bless you for writing this! So many needs in our world…so many people that don’t know Jesus… I grew up as a missionary kid in Central America, and my father is a very enthusiastic and dedicated evangelist. My dream as a teenager was to be a missionary to an unreached tribe. God had different plans for me…but my heart is still very much toward the unreached, and I definitely want to instill a love for people into my daughter who is two. Thanks for the ideas! And for the love you share for missions and people around the world!

  16. Kelly Summers June 11, 2010 at 2:16 am #

    this is awesome….it will take me a few days to go though all the great links! thanks for taking the time do this.

  17. Beth Pell June 11, 2010 at 1:48 am #

    Loved reading this! I am a home school mom with 4 kids currently in the Philippines- 1 full-time and 3 short term. Thanks for all the suggestions. I will enjoy exploring your ideas.

  18. Kara @ Home With Purpose June 10, 2010 at 10:04 pm #

    WONDERFUL post! You said everything I would want to say, and listed almost all the same resources I listed in a paper I presented on this very topic! Thank you for this…I’ll be sharing the link with family & friends.