The words 'persecuted church' and 'unreached people' can conjure up all sorts of uneasy feelings in Christians and non-Christians alike. They're a little scary, a bit mysterious, and so grown up.
Is there any reason I'd want to teach my kids about the persecution of Christians by Muslims in Yemen? Unreached people? Missionaries are supposed to 'reach' them. Not those of us sitting in our comfortable suburban homes. Do I need to teach them about other religions? Won't they get confused or want to convert when they're older?
I have to admit that I used to think it wasn't necessary to allow their little hearts to be burdened with something (I thought) they couldn't change. I've received the newsletter of Voice of Martyrs for years; I love to read the biographies of missionaries to be encouraged, challenged and inspired to live a life worthy of the gospel. But I didn't start teaching my kids about the trials of these heroes until lately.
I had a change of heart in 2005 when we brought home our little princess. Traveling through China for nearly 3 weeks sparked in me a great love for the country and more importantly the people. Prior to that trip I had only been to Canada and Mexico as a tourist. I was there for my own enjoyment and didn't think beyond the immediate experience.
Being in China was different. I needed to soak in every ounce of everything so I could somehow attempt to share my experience and memories with Ella. And that began my desire to teach my children about unreached people and the persecution of Christians around the world.
And while each of these - the persecuted church, unreached people, and world religions - is individually an enormous topic, I think they're best learned, by children anyway, together.
Initially, I was overwhelmed; this is weighty and serious stuff. Can a 5 or 6 year old really comprehend such things? I think so, and below is the first in a series of posts explaining how we do it in our home.
I began by explaining why. Why do we care what's happening to nameless, faceless strangers on the other side of the world?
~ Well, persecuted Christians are our brothers and sisters in Christ - 1 Peter 2:17 tells us to... Love the brotherhood of believers...
And Hebrews 13:3 reminds us to Remember those who are in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
~ We can't forget The Great Commission in Matthew 28: 19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
~ And we don't want to lose sight of the fact that only God's merciful grace has spared us the same suffering and persecution that other countries are experiencing right now.
~ Learning about other religions helps us with evangelism and apologetics. I want my child to know more about Buddhism than the smooth-talking Buddhist trying to convert him (much gratitude to Mrs. Somerville for that insight). And I want my child to know what the Bible says in response to the beliefs of other religions.
~ And we don't want to discount the basic educational opportunities here such as geography - where IS Burma? And 'social studies' or learning about other cultures. You never know when you'll be asked 'In the game of Kup-Kari, what, instead of a ball, do the players use to score points?'
So that's "Why" we do it. Next time I'll talk about "What" books and materials we use