Sunday School And Missions
By Jan Cagno
Every Sunday school should include a missionary emphasis in its program. It is important for children, youth and other people to realize that every Christian has a responsibility to reach out to others with the love and truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are several kinds of mission emphases that might be considered. Most of us immediately think of foreign missions when we hear the term “missionary.” Of course foreign missions are very important and can open up exciting program possibilities to catch the enthusiasm and fervor of your Sunday school students. There is a special fascination with faraway – often exotic places, new cultures, and people of a different race. The needs of the missionaries and the national Christians in these faraway lands are great and there is always a warm sense of satisfaction for those who have had a part in meeting some of the needs. There is also an opportunity for young students to recognize new opportunities for service for the Lord. Many a missionary has felt the call of God on his or her life at an early age.
Although they might not be as “glamorous,” there are also other kinds of missionary ministries that need support and prayer. The work of what we commonly refer to as “home missions” is also of vital importance. Missionaries to the American Indians, hidden away mountain people, inter-city dwellers or ethnic and foreign settlements within our own country have many needs that a Sunday school group might help to meet. Special projects of Christian organizations, such as the Pennsylvania State Sunday School Association, Child Evangelism Fellowship, or Campus Crusade, just to name a few, all might be considered “home missionary” projects. The needs of these organizations are worthy of consideration as you search for just the right project for your Sunday school.
Whatever type of missionary emphasis you decide to make should be thoroughly researched and plans must be detailed and complete. Check on ideas that sound good to be certain that you understand all that is involved. Always correspond or talk directly with the persons who will be on the receiving end of your project to be sure that it will be carried out efficiently, will meet a real need, and will be successful. After you research a project and have checked on mailing regulations and other details, but sure to present your project to your church officials. It is important for them to approve and support what you want to do. Be sure your project involves a definite goal. For example, don’t say “We are going to raise money to supply books for a mission school.” Say instead, “We are going to raise $200 in order to supply learning materials for 100 students in the Bible school in Baramba, Mali, Africa.
Money is certainly not the only necessity for either home or foreign missions. Sometimes a missionary project involves collection of new or used items, such as medical supplies, old eyeglasses, empty medicine bottles, clothing or food items. Other projects involve handmade items such as bandages for a dispensary, book bags for a girls’ school in Africa, baby blankets for a station in the Philippines, etc. In order to obtain ideas for your project, you might want to contact mission boards and explain what you want to do. They will usually be happy to supply you with a list of possibilities.
Finally, after you decide on a definite project, have checked the details and have received the approval from your church officials, you are ready to promote the project to your class or congregation. Make posters for bulletin boards and prepare an insert for your church bulletin that explains your project. Look for maps that will show the location of the mission that will benefit from the project (even if it is in your own area). Search out pictures about the ministry and find or write stories that will help your students feel acquainted with the recipients of the project. Invite missionaries to visit your Sunday school, if they are available, or make use of taped messages, recorded music from the area, slides or videos.
Today many missionaries can also be contacted on faraway fields via e-mail and the Internet. Keep all your presentations brief and interesting and simplify them for young children. Your purpose is to give each of your students an understanding of the project and create enthusiasm for it.
Give progress reports and reminders of the goal you have set. Your members will respond eagerly if you do a good job. Whatever you decide to do, when the project is completed it will be difficult to determine who has benefited most – those who received or those who gave.