With heavy hearts, we as a church have made the decision to not hold an in-person VBS this summer (please see the June 21 announcements for more information, below). Instead, our Christian Education board has put together materials for a “Summer At-Home Missions Conference.” Details for children and youth are below. If you are interested in reading some missionary biographies over the summer, see our companion post here.
Summer 2020 Missions Conference At-Home
You are invited to host a missions conference this summer! Here’s the catch: host it in your own home for your own family by reading aloud a story (or two) of a missionary’s work in Africa. Learn about the animals and habitat of East Africa. Experience the culture of the Maasai people. Eat the food you might be served in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Make a craft that pays tribute to the creativity of a people skilled in working with their hands. And, know what the Lord is doing through the work of missionaries who introduce people to Jesus, translate God’s Word into native languages, and teach all ages to read the life-changing truths found only in the Bible. Be challenged together to learn about missions, pray for missionaries, and ask yourselves honestly how God would use YOU and YOUR FAMILY in the spread of the Gospel around the world.
Feel free to take and use whatever ideas fit your family. Use them as a jumping off point for your own creativity. Spread out your missions conference throughout the summer or make one weekend stand out with Africa-themed everything. It’s up to you and your family. (*For teens, check out another option below for a missions focus this summer.)
Read-Aloud Book Recommendation for Your Family
Published by Christian Focus (United Kingdom Christian publishing company) A Boy of Two Worlds by Lorna Eglin tells a delightful fictional story of a Maasai boy living in Kenya whose whole village changes with the work of God through missionaries sharing the truth of God’s Son Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd who calls His “sheep” to follow Him and be changed on the inside by His power. Though retired missionary Lorna Eglin may have chosen to write a fictional story, she has used accurate details that are based on her decades of missions work among the Maasai.
Book Summary: One dreadful day life changes for the Maasai tribe and their way of life hangs in balance as drought attacks pastures, worms attack cattle, and the young boy Lemayan falls sick. Lemayan only knows the traditional Maasai world but now he has to live in a different world to survive. When Lemayan finds out about a Good Shepherd he begins another journey of discovery to a world where Jesus is King and where all tribes and peoples are welcome.
Author Bio: Lorna Eglin is an AIM (Africa Inland Mission) missionary in South Africa and taught Maasai girls in Kenya. Her students went on to be professionals in modern Kenya, including the first Maasai lady doctor and the wife of Kenya’s ambassador to Japan.
Specifics: pocket paperback, 208 pages, “read to me”: 8-9 (I personally think 6 or 7-year-olds would do well with this story as well), “read myself”: 9-12 *But, I would encourage you to read it aloud to the whole family!
Purchase a copy here: Amazon for $8.99, Christian Focus Publications for $8.99 (comes from the UK, though), Abebooks.com (used bookseller)
Masai and I by Virginia Kroll, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (a read-aloud picture book posted on Youtube by Rebekah Wall) here:
“Maasai Life Through a Child’s Eyes” (video posted on Youtube by Operation Blessing) here:
Watch “The Red Book: A Maasai Story” (posted on Youtube by Bible League International) here:
Talk about disabilities that would make it difficult to learn how to ________ (fill in the blank with: read, walk, take care of animals, make friends, etc.). Think aloud together of all the ways a person with any of these disabilities can still love and worship and follow Jesus.
Learn more about Rachel Balia, a missionary First E-Free supports in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is working to build a school for children with special needs called the “Promise Home”. Pray for the missions work involved. Read more here.
Share about how amazing of a privilege it is to have the Bible in our own native language and to be able to work at mastering the skill of reading. We can have God’s words right at our fingertips. We can read them for ourselves. And, we can hide them in our hearts so that we can know Him (John 20:31) and that we might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). Thank God for this blessing!
Genesis 11 and Revelation 7:9-12- Talk together about how God made one race of people- the human race. Read together in Genesis how different languages and cultures came to be. Then, read in Revelation the picture of our future- ONE family of people from all tribes and peoples and languages, worshiping Jesus in ONE language. Talk about how true peace and unity are accomplished through the death and resurrection and, eventually, the return of Jesus as our forever King.
Luke 15- “The Parable of the Good Shepherd”
Psalm 23- “The Lord is My Shepherd”
The Good Shepherd by Catherine Mackenzie, published by Christian Focus (great for preK and younger elementary); available from: Christian Focus Publishing, Abebooks.com (used), Thriftbooks.com (used)
Robert Moffat: Africa’s Brave Heart (Trail Blazer Series) by Irene Howat, published by Christian Focus (biography of Scottish missionary to Africa- father-in-law to famous doctor-missionary David Livingstone, for older elementary-middle school); available from: Christian Focus Publishing, Amazon, Christianbook.com, Abebooks.com (used), Thriftbooks.com (used)
Who is the Bravest? (David Livingstone) by Catherine Mackenzie, published by Christian Focus (biography of famous Scottish doctor-missionary to Africa, for preK-younger elementary); available from: Christian Focus Publishing, Amazon, Christianbook.com, Abebooks.com (used), Thriftbooks.com (used)
David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer (Christian Heroes: Then and Now Series) by Janet and Geoff Benge, published by YWAM (biography of famous Scottish doctor-missionary to Africa, for older elementary-middle school); available from: Amazon (also on Audible), Christianbook.com, Abebooks.com (used), Thriftbooks.com (used)
What is it Like? (Mary Slessor) Catherine Mackenzie, published by Christian Focus (biography of Scottish missionary to Africa, for preK-younger elementary); available from: Christian Focus Publishing, Amazon, Christianbook.com, Abebooks.com (used)
Mary Slessor: Servant to the Slave (Trail Blazer Series) by Irene Howat, published by Christian Focus (biography of Scottish missionary to Africa, for older elementary-middle school); available from: Christian Focus Publishing, Amazon, Christianbook.com, Abebooks.com (used)
Mary Slessor: Forward into Calabar (Christian Heroes: Then and Now Series) by Janet and Geoff Benge, published by YWAM (biography of famous Scottish doctor-missionary to Africa, for older elementary-middle school); available from: Amazon (also on Audible), Christianbook.com, Abebooks.com (used), Thriftbooks.com (used)
Learn together about the animals and habitats found in East Africa (think: savanna, “The Lion King”). Build animals together out of play dough. Make a diorama with dried grass, a dish of water= watering hole, sand, clay, and a painted sunset in the background. Set up a stuffed animal safari in the living room for Barbies or army men/superheroes to drive through and photograph.
Talk about the amazing ways God created these animals and their environment to fit together (think: camouflage, diet, nocturnal hunting, etc.) Learn more from Answers in Genesis here.
Search Wikipedia for the history of the African-originating board game “Mancala” or the related game played in East Africa called “Bao” (meaning “board game”). If you don’t have a Mancala game board, just draw a grid on paper (or chalk on a sidewalk or make holes in the dirt) and use dried beans, small pebbles, or whatever else you can think of! Learn to play from Youtube or here.
Play a game of soccer as a family, a game beloved by many in East Africa.
Learn how to play a popular game of African school children- hopscotch- together as a family (and with some new variations) from here.
Learn some fun new (and old) ways to jump rope, another beloved pastime of African children, here.
Search for “Maasai Traditional Dances” on Youtube to see the amazing use of rhythm that warriors use in jumping and creating vocal music.
Learn a “Call and Response” song, inspired by the style of chanting and clapping music of the women and children of the Maasai (search for “Maasai Chants” videos on Youtube). Ashley Danyew has links to 40 call and response songs for kids here.
Search for Psalm 23 put to music on Youtube.
Search for “Maasai” images on Google.com to see the colorful clothing and elaborate beaded jewelry of the Maasai.
For Older Kids (teens)
Tales from the Tribe is a wonderful missions-focused devotional book by Aaron Luse (sent by Morningside Bible Church here in Sioux City through missions organization Ethnos 360). It is a great way to immerse yourself in the life of this missionary family to Papua New Guinea, to see first-hand the challenges and joys of building relationships with people who eat insects and translate God’s Word into a language only recently written down. This would make a fantastic book to read aloud together with your teen. Written as a devotional, there are heart-stirring questions to talk through and Bible verses to read together. Sold by Amazon, Christianbook.com, Thriftbooks.com (used), and Abebooks.com (used).