In 2002, I set foot in South Sudan. Although extremely well-traveled, I had never experienced a land so ravaged by war and neglect. The country had been engrossed in civil war for 19 years at that point and it showed. However, unlike most of the other countries I had been to, the majority of the people I encountered in South Sudan were already Christians. What surprised me the most was that in the midst of a constant threat of attack, they had hope and joy and peace. Their hardships didn’t discourage their faith, it encouraged it!
Sudan was neither my first nor my last trip into places that didn’t have air conditioning or french fries. At age 11, I started traveling the world. I didn’t go to get away from the daily grind; I went to share my faith and give in any way I could. Sometimes I traveled with missions groups but several trips were as a tag along with my mother. She believed in giving me a global worldview and in doing that, she shaped the course of my life.
From a young age, I saw how the rest of the world lives – I held their hands and listened to their stories. It was a world that no one talked about, no one had prepared me for. No school could teach compassion and no church could prepare me to build relationships and share my faith like really doing it in a lost and dying world. Those trips broadened my horizons and helped me see it really wasn’t all about me – or my car, school, job, clothes, or friends. It was truly and only about Him.
Now with 5 young children of my own, I look for ways to give them that same worldview. I want them to see that it is our privilege and calling to reach this world with the Message of Christ and to encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters. I want them to look beyond themselves, beyond the borders of our great country into a world that desperately needs a Savior. That calling is not for my children alone. I believe it is what God desires for each of His children and it’s easier than ever to live out.
Here are 5 simple ways to give your family a global, Christ-centered worldview:
- Connect with a missionary. This is a lot easier than it might sound. Next time your church has a missions weekend or guest speaker, approach them afterwards. Introduce yourselves. Find out what it’s like to tell people about Jesus in their country. Sign up for their newsletter and pray for them. When things happen in that country, make your family aware.
- Take your kids to a restaurant that serves international cuisine and talk about the people from that country. Look up the country on your phone while you’re waiting to eat. Go to Perecution.org and learn what it’s like to be a Christian in that country. Pray for the country and its people when you pray for your food.
- Find resources (books, newsletters from missions organizations, etc.) that you can read with your children. I had the privilege of penning Escape from Sudan which is a fictional children’s novel about a Christian boy in Sudan and his story of hardship, triumph, and faith. It’s perfect for families to read together or 8-12 year olds to read on their own. You can find it here:
- Get involved with Operation Christmas Child and send shoebox gifts to children around the world. On their site you can choose the Follow-Your-Box Tracking Label option and learn where your box is going. Then make a point of praying for that country and that child.
- The best way to help your kids see the world beyond their own is simple: Go. Take your children if you can. They will learn so much with you by their side. If you cannot go, don’t hesitate to send them with your youth group or a missions organization.
Romans 10:14 says:
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (NIV)
It’s incredibly important that we teach our children about missions and the persecuted church. It will strengthen their faith and souls around the world depend on it.
Amanda DiCianni is a writer, wife, and mother to five amazing kids. She earned her degree in Literary Writing from Oral Roberts University and has traveled the world helping those in need and telling them about Jesus. Her first encounter with the Sudanese was in 1999 when she taught English to Sudanese refugees at a school in Cairo, Egypt. In 2002, she visited South Sudan and Uganda and saw first-hand the needs of these precious people and fellow believers in Christ. It is her hope that Escape from Sudan will raise awareness and inspire children and families to become involved in the plight of the Sudanese. You can connect with her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.