With my parents in the Marine Corps, I grew up a bit of a nomad. By the time I was a year old I had my first passport and was moving to Japan. The years would find me crossing coasts, continents, and states in between. This government instituted bohemian lifestyle enabled me to see much of the world, but what has marked my life with a permanent seal was the people. I met people from all parts of the country and world---different shades of color, accents and traditions.
This here and there, molded how I see the world, culture, and Jesus in it all.
I knew from a young age that when I had children I wanted them to experience the world. I wanted to show them places and people, languages and foods, to see pagodas and cannons. I wanted them to see the vastness of God’s world and the people in it. For it is a marvelous and wonderful thing. I feel strongly about opening up and allowing children to experience different cultures, so that they move beyond themselves and begin to see other people. But what is crucial is seeing and moving through the lens of the Gospel.
While teaching Bible at a Montessori preschool, I came across an article by Noel Piper called, Home Grown World Christians. It made me want to stand up and shout, “Yes!” It casts a vision for opening up the world to your children, even if you’re landlocked on a country road in the middle of America.
But it’s not for the sake of culture or broadening horizons that I emphasize opening children to the world. No, it’s for a far grander cause that I sit with my children pointing at a map, writing letters to our other children in Ecuador, and telling them about the world. I want my children to know the Gospel. I want them to know the saving power of Jesus and I want them to join in with my husband and I, our church, and the Body of Christ and bring that Good News into the world. I want to invite them, even at the youngest of age, to join me in the Great Commission.
How do we open the world?
- Talk about the Gospel - Don’t be afraid to get into the nitty-gritty. Oftentimes I hear parents and teachers avoid the hard things, the ones that make us uncomfortable, like Jesus died for our sins, the gravity of sin, and the cruelty of the Cross. You don’t have to show them The Passion of the Christ, but don’t minimize the sacrifice for when we do we lose the glory of the resurrection and redemption.
- Get a Map - The best and quickest way to open your children up to the world is to put it in front of them. We have a world map that hangs on the wall in our dining room. Around it are collages from different mission trips, countries we’ve lived in, our Compassion children, and prayer cards of missionaries we know. This opens up the door to talk about different people, places, and allows children to get a barring on the geography of the world.
- Sponsor a Child - Six years ago, I sponsored my first Compassion child from Ecuador. Now we have two and hope to add a third to our family. What’s great about organizations like Compassion and World Vision is that you are delivering the Gospel through your financial support, but also you are building a relationship and investing that child. You are ministering. We write letters together. Joey knows that Pamela and Gabriel live in Ecuador and can point to it on a map. We often pray for them at night. This is a very real and tangible way for children to see the world and build relationships.
- Festivals & Food - Food is a universal language. It’s fun to make and eat. It’s also a simple, yet adventurous way to explore the world. Take your children to a cultural fair or festival in your city, make a trip to an ethnic grocery store or restaurant, or check out a book at the library and discover a new dish.
There are many, many other ways to open up the world to your children, but what’s important is that you do it. Open up the world to them, let them see its intricacies and wonders, proclaim the Gospel, and see how God moves.
What are your ideas? How do you bring "the world" in to your home and your family?