Home Schooling to Make a Difference in the World
An excerpt from The Real Life Home School Mom by Virginia Knowles
Like James and Amelia Taylor in the 1880s, one of my goals has been to inspire my children to see how they can make a difference in this world for God’s glory. "Nations and generations!" has been the cry of my heart, echoing the cry of God's own heart. We've studied cultural geography to learn about how people live and what they believe, and we've talked about missions, but sometimes reading a biography about a missionary who lived a hundred years ago is too remote. We need to know that is going on the world right now - and how we can participate! Learning about global current events via the Internet, newspapers and TV news has also been quite fruitful, though we have to fight the tendency to be armchair spectators. Just knowing about a crisis around the globe does nothing to alleviate it. I realize that the most important lesson will be personal example. What do they see me doing and what can we do together? We've always made a point to send both money and tangible items towards missions. Please understand that as I write the following examples, I am not trying to brag. Instead, I write to share a testimony of the Lord's faithfulness to our family as we are trying to serve him globally, as well as offer some practical ideas for your own families.
In the summer of 2005, my two oldest daughters, Mary (then 18) and Julia (then 16) traveled to Bolivia on mission trips hosted by our church. Julia returned to southern Bolivia in 2007 on a ten day medical team. She has a real heart for the people of Bolivia and for extending the Kingdom of God. After she returned from there the first time, she hung a Bolivian sugar sack over her bed. Then over the following weeks and months, she did something that I considered most unusual: she taped up a whole bunch of newspaper photos of people around the world who are suffering from war, famine, injustice, and natural disasters. My eyes welled with tears when I realized why she had done this. On her nightstand, heavily marked and highlighted throughout, was the book Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road by Timothy J. Keller. There are a lot of things I wish I had taught my children all throughout their home school years, but I’m glad to see that they are at least developing hearts for compassion, service, and world missions.
When the kids were young, they had so much fun stuffing shoeboxes with small items for needy children around the world, and then delivering them to a Samaritan’s Purse (http://www.samaritanspurse.org/) drop-off point. This is a worthy ministry organization that I highly recommend. Our children have also helped pack care boxes for pastors in the Ukraine and children in Mexico to be personally delivered by friends.
One year, the girls collected blankets from our friends and neighbors to be sent to Sudan for Voice of the Martyrs’ Blankets of Love program (http://www.persecution.com/). VOM has been a terrific resource to us. We've read their magazine articles about the persecuted church around the world, watched their excellent children's video (Stephen's Test of Faith), and subscribed to their children's quarterly, LINK magazine. On the topic of persecution, also be sure to check out the International Christian Concern web site at www.persecution.org for information on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, which occurs each November.
In 2001, we assembled gift baskets for Indian and Chinese students at UCF, followed up by a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner for them at our house. The kids worked hard to prepare the meal and decorate the house. They also had a chance to share their own talents with our guests: one sang a Thanksgiving hymn, one played the piano, etc. We got quite an education about Indian culture that evening as our guests shared about religious pilgrimages, arranged marriages, idol worship, and other Hindu customs. This was a wonderful extension to the unit study on Asia that we had been doing. Since it was Thanksgiving, we jumped on this opportunity to watch an animated video about William Bradford and the pilgrim colony with our guests. This naturally led into a discussion about the stark difference between the American form of government and the Chinese way, and introduced our guests to the Christian faith in gentle and winsome way.
For Christmas the year I was pregnant with Ben, my daughter Mary (then 16) gave me the gift of prenatal care -- for a woman in Africa! She ordered this gift in my honor through Harvest of Hope, an outreach ministry of Partners International. You can "send" such unusual gifts as goats for milk and breeding, native language Bibles, bicycles for church planters, school supplies, sewing machines for cottage businesses, emergency medical kits, well-building supplies and more! Call 1-888-887-2786 or visit http://www.harvestofhope.org/ to see a catalog of gifts in different price ranges.
One spring, we hosted a whole bunch of missionary kids for a party at our home while their mothers enjoyed an elegant tea at a friend's house. This was a great opportunity for my children to use their creativity to extend hospitality to our little guests.
Another year at Christmas time, some of my daughters helped me distribute little Christmas outreach packets to our neighbors, which included a greeting with an original Christmas poem and a Gospel of John. We hung these on doorknobs with pretty ribbon.
For the past several years, we have been committed to sharing as much as we can with Headson Makazinga, a village pastor and church planter in Malawi and Mozambique. The proceeds from my Learner’s Journal lesson planner go to him for Bibles, hymnals, conference expenses, and orphan care. We also produce and ship Chichewa language tracts for him to distribute. The children have helped with this endeavor.
Some families decide to sponsor a child through Compassion International or another trustworthy organization. This provides the child with money for food, clothing, and school expenses. Your own children can correspond with them, too.
Nations and generations! We can make a difference in the world if we look beyond the borders of our own countries and realize there are billions who haven’t heard of Jesus and his love.
This article is excerpted from the chapter "Aim for the Heart" in my book The Real Life Home School Mom. You can read the PDF of the book for free by accessing it from the sidebar of http://www.virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/.
The story about Hudson Taylor started a little earlier in the chapter. Click here read it: A Sense of Calling for Life.
Update: Mary (23) is a writer for Wycliffe Bible Translators, a major missionary organization. (See here: Baby Shower and Bible Translation -- Afternoon at Wycliffe.) Julia (21) has now been to Bolivia four times. Last year, she was there for three months. You can see her blog about that trip here: http://www.juliaknowles.blogspot.com/. Joanna (17) has been to the Dominican Republic, as well as participating in Daytona Beach Week with Mission to Japan a few times.