MKs inspire children for mission
By Karla Braun
MB Mission, the Mennonite Brethren global mission agency, has launched “Mission Adventures,” a children’s curriculum that helps engage younger generations with God’s heart for the world. The material is designed to give students an opportunity to learn about specific countries, meet missionaries who live in those countries and actively engage in prayer for the work that God is doing today.
Curriculum writer Joy Penner is proof that children can develop a vision for mission. The childhood imagination of this long-term service worker was fired by Amy Carmichael’s story. “I was so struck by God’s plan for Amy,” says Penner, currently serving with MB Mission in East Asia. 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 sessions suitable for use in Sunday school classes, vacation Bible schools, Christian school environments with ages 5–12. Units on Thailand and Peru featuring the children of Andy and Carmen Owen in Thailand and Lowell and Melissa Ens in Peru rolled out this summer; at least two more being are 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.
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 Amy Klassen, a MB Mission worker currently serving in East Asia as a teacher.
Containing explicit instructions and plenty of optional activities, the curriculum is suitable both for beginning teachers who want step-by-step direction and experienced teachers who customize their lesson plans. “There’s a lot of choice,” says Penner.
Each unit of the curriculum focuses on one country and contains four 45-minute lessons. The material—developed by Penner and Klassen, overseas workers and videographers—comes with ample resources so that the lessons can be easily adapted for use with a variety of programs. All the resources are now available online for download.
“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.
Karla Braun is the associate editor of MB Herald, the English-language publication of the Canadian Conference of MB Churches.