Several years ago I had the greatest job: I was a Children’s Pastor at a church in Malibu, California. As I got to know the families in the community, I learned that they had one thing in common: they all wanted to raise kids who served those in need and were grateful for all that they had.
Many were worried that because their kids had all their basic needs met (and more) that they would grow up and be entitled and ungrateful. I realized quickly that simply telling kids about the poor wasn’t going to be enough – we’d need to have experiences that would allow us to learn together and grow in compassion.
Learning that leaves a lasting impression happens through life-changing experiences. I wondered out loud and to myself about how I could give my kids at church an experience that would allow them to step into the story of another person – specifically those who live in poverty. We began by asking the question, “what is enough?” in a culture that teaches us to strive and thirst for “more.”
The thing is, whether you live in Malibu or Indiana, Mexico or India, we all need to know that we are loved and that God has a plan and purpose for our lives. We have so much in common. We all experience wealth and poverty in some form: material, spiritual, emotional or intellectual.
In order to help children grow in compassion, we can activate their vivid imaginations and give them the tools they need to be empathetic world-changers. I knew that many of the kids I worked with would someday shape their culture as their generation emerged into adulthood, and I felt commissioned to do all I could to prepare them to follow Jesus and live a life of service and generosity. Values are formed early in life, and I believe our role as adults is to create experiences that will inspire children to see the world through God’s eyes.
If you’re like me, you’re on the lookout for hands-on experiences to help children explore God’s bigger world. Here are three great resources available to help develop a heart for social justice in the next generation:
If you’re looking for a way to take your sponsorship relationship to the next level or learn more about the developing world, our Pinterest boards are a great resource. Families often ask me what they can send the children they sponsor in the mail. Look no further! You’ll find dozens of creative letter ideas here. You’ll also find boards that collect resources to help you learn about the developing countries in which we work and the issues they face, including amazing stories from the children and churches we work with.
If you haven’t introduced yourself to Step Into My Shoes, I highly recommend that you do. When you order this discipleship tool for your family or church, it will guide you through four transformational steps. Your family will have the opportunity to learn from Pastor Tom’s family in Uganda about what it is like to live life alongside them. Through hands-on experiential activities you’ll find all you need to have meaningful conversations about God’s bigger world and heart. When we see the world through God’s eyes, it changes our perspective of what we think “enough” is – and this is the central focus of the Step Into My Shoes journey.
Kids love to get mail, and they’ll love getting an Explorer Magazine because it’s created specifically for them. Explorer Magazine is our award-winning free quarterly magazine packed with devotions, crafts, recipes and ideas to help kids grow in compassion and heart for our brothers and sisters who live in poverty. Bonus: kids will love to read this full-color magazine and it won’t feel like homework!