Children can develop a vision for mission – Joy Penner is proof. The long-term service worker’s childhood imagination was first fired by Amy Carmichael’s story. As a child, Amy prayed God would turn her brown eyes blue like the rest of her family’s; as an adult ministering in India, Amy thanked God her dark eyes didn’t set her apart from her neighbours.
“I was so struck by God’s plan for Amy,” says Penner. Through lessons that introduce children to today’s MB Mission people and places, “I hope kids will get that [sense of purpose].”
A Third Culture Kid and trained teacher, Penner didn’t hesitate when MB Mission asked her to develop mission adventure units each containing four 45-minute sessions suitable for use in Sunday school classes, vacation Bible schools, or Christian school environments with ages 5–12. Two rolled out this summer; at least two more are being planned.
Inspired by a mission-focused Sunday school program at Hillsboro (Kan.) MB Church, MB Mission developed these materials to help children connect with the idea of long-term overseas service through the eyes of missionary children. “Cultivating a heart of global mission for children takes an intentional effort on the behalf of the church community,” says MB Mission lead team member Larry Neufeld.
Fort Garry MB children’s ministry pastor Ruth Schellenberg combines mission teaching with tithing. “We try to teach our children about other cultures, to see how all people are loved by God, through giving projects. Having a curriculum like the one MB Mission has provided will go a long way to making that possible. Children connect more easily with a giving project when there are tangible connections to those they are giving to.”
The package, downloadable as PDFs and video from MB Mission’s website, is designed to be flexible. “It’s kind of a teacher’s manual, but it’s also a resource overview,” says Penner who collaborated with fellow teacher and MB Mission alumna Amy Klassen. Containing explicit instructions and plenty of optional activities, it’s suitable both for beginners who want step-by-step direction and experienced teachers who customize their lesson plans. “There’s a lot of choice.”
“What connected me with mission when I was a kid was the idea of God at work,” says Penner. She hopes the curriculum will help other children catch that vision as they learn about mission through the eyes of the Owen children in Thailand and the Ens family in Peru.