As moms there are many things we want our children to know, but as a mom for 25 years now (and my youngest still only four years old) I find as the years past my priorities for my kids focus more on Jesus' priorities. And what was one of those priorities at the top of the list? Caring for “the least of these.” More than anything Jesus wants us to care for those without honor, without resources, and often without hope. When we do this for your children, we are training them to love as Jesus loved.
As Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 (ESV): "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
So how can we train our children to serve the least of these? Here are six ways.
- Create toiletry kits for the homeless. Have you ever had an awkward moment when you're stopped at a stoplight and there's a homeless person standing a few feet away? Instead of looking away or fiddling with your stereo, use that time to offer a toiletry kit. Have your children help you put together kits in gallon zipper bags and keep them in your car. Things to include: soap, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, chapstick, hand wipes, and fingernail clippers. You can also include a bottle of water and a few granola or snack bars. Your children can also write out Scripture verses to tuck inside.
- Pull weeds and do yard work for an elderly neighbor. Do you have someone in your neighborhood or your church who could use a helping hand? Take an afternoon or even a full day to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Bring your own tools and supplies. Even young kids can pull weeds or pick up trash.
- Host a shoe-cutting party for Sole Hope: Sole Hope helps African children live lives free from jiggers, which infect and deform their feet. Instead of just buying and providing shoes, Sole Hope also helps African men and women by teaching them a trade: how to make shoes. Older children can invite friends to work together to help underprivileged children get shoes. Included in kit from Sole Hope are patterns for the shoes. With old jeans, willing volunteers, and a small donation, children can do their part in put shoes on the feet of kids who have none.
- Create art work and take it to a senior care facility. My kids love to share their art with others, and senior care facilities are the perfect places to share it. Elderly people are some of the loneliest in our country. They love to have visitors and know people are still thinking about them. It's a win-win for artistic kids and for elderly people who will treasure the art.
- Cook a meal and deliver to a foster family. Foster parents take in children who have been removed from their parents' care due to no fault of their own. When foster children first join a home the whole family is disrupted, and it takes a while to find a new normal. By providing a meal you are giving foster parents one less thing to think about. Then parents can provide for the additional needs of foster children.
- Deliver diapers and baby items to a young mom. (And maybe a book, too!) Teen moms face the same challenges as every mother, but they often don't have the same resources. Teen moms chose LIFE for their children, and they can use love, support, and encouragement. By supporting a teen mom we are NOT encouraging teen pregnancy. Instead, it's a reminder to our children that all life is important. When we love teen moms, we're loving as Jesus would. Buying diapers, wipes, and other physical items is a huge blessing to any mother, especially to young moms.
And consider also offering a copy of Teen Mom: You're Stronger Than You Think. This is a book that speaks to the unique needs of young mothers. It's a book that offers hope and reminds young moms God will always be there during all their parenting challenges. Also, here's a video that can help you understand the challenges of being a young mom so you and your children will know how to better serve.
I hope you and your children will pick one of these ways to serve. But don't stop there. Consider your family, your gifts, and “the least of these” near to you. Then let God lead you in service in unique ways. As you do, your children will come to understand God's heart. They'll also see that they CAN make a difference in someone else's life … for God's glory!
If you want more ideas on how to get your kids to volunteer here's another article I've written for you.
Tricia Goyer, TriciaGoyer.com