World Events: Praying With Our Children

Matt 24:6-8  And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for [those things] must take place, but [that] is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are [merely] the beginning of birth pangs.

Birth pangs. It seems that the pace of world events moves ever quicker. Since the beginning of this year we've seen revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, a civil war in Libya, now with European and U.S. involvement , and unrest across North Africa and the Middle East. South Sudan voted to secede from the north. Australia faced severe flooding and a cyclone, New Zealand a major earthquake, and Japan is reeling from the aftermath of their own devastating earthquake and tsunami. The contractions seem to be increasing in intensity and coming ever closer.  

Now, more than ever, we ought to be talking about world events with our children, and praying for the Lord's work in the lives of men and women throughout the world. 

Matt. 24: 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.

Window on the World is an excellent book for helping your children get a glimpse of God's work throughout the world, and allowing them to participate in it through prayer. Written with elementary aged students in mind, this book covers 92 countries and people groups from Afghanistan to the Zulus. It's filled with beautiful pictures, short stories of children in each place, and prayer points. My only complaint is that the book is becoming somewhat dated, published in 2001. (There is a more recent printing, but what I have read indicates the text is still the 10 year old one.) Take one day a week to read through a portion of this book and pray for that area of the world. I highly recommend this book for families with school aged children.

Even preschoolers can begin to understand that God has people who love Him all over the world. You might consider having one night a month when you serve a meal inspired by foods from one country and talk about life in that place. We used to do this when we had only a couple of children, and it was quite enjoyable. You can talk about what God is doing, and then pray for the people of that land. When possible, have missionaries and international students in your home.

With older children, make some time to talk and pray about current events. Since we are currently focusing on world geography, this has come pretty naturally this year. But I think it is something that should be part of every family's curriculum, whether they are homeschooling or not, and whether they are officially studying geography or focusing on ancient, medieval, or Early American history. Assigning occasional current event oral reports to be shared with your family can go a long way in helping kids tune in to current events. I've seen that happening around here. Having a particularly exciting year makes this easy.

Back to Japan, how can you pray for that country?

Operation World, the grown-up version of Windows on the World (actually, this book long preceded the children's edition) is the standard reference book of prayer needs for each country. Frequently updated, you'll find statistical information which gives a snapshot of the demographics in a particular country and the state of the church in it.

From the Operation World website, you can find shortened versions of the selections in the book. Here's a bit from the Japan page on the website, written before the events of the past week or so:
Uncertainty about the future has prompted spiritual searching. This is partly in response to many economic and social changes that threaten the status quo in Japan. The constant threats of a major earthquake, of economic decline, the widening generation gap and the feeling of social isolation (hikikomori) that so many suffer provoke widespread soul-searching.

The combination of the decade-long recession in Japan with the current fear and loss from the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor issues, has brought about an unprecedented opportunity for believers in the country to show the truth of the Gospel. Let's pray with our families that the church in Japan, which has been shrinking in recent years, will stand strong at this time, and reach out to love and serve their neighbors in practical and spiritual ways.

In Libya, once one of the most closed and unreached countries in the world, historic events are also taking place, events which are undoubtedly bringing about new opportunities for believers, both ex-pat workers and the few Libyan believers, to share the reason for their hope (I Pet. 3:15). The selection below is also taken from the Operation World website and was written prior to the recent events. Though the situation is changing daily, this still gives important background information:
Answer to Prayer
The spiritual climate in Libya has changed significantly. God is doing a new work in this land (a response to the sustained and specific intercession of past years?). There is notable spiritual hunger among Libyans, but not enough Bibles for those seeking them. Increasing numbers of Libyans are coming to Christ (though still only a few), and expatriate Christians now enjoy greater spiritual liberty than in the past. Praise God for these developments and pray that they would continue.
Challenge for Prayer
Libya’s long isolation is ending. Sanctions have ended, foreign investment and trade are increasing and the government is becoming more moderate. Libyan nationals have distinguished themselves as gracious and friendly; pray that they might be open to the gospel as it is shared sensitively. Pray also for Libya’s future; its ruler will not live forever, and whoever succeeds him could shape the nation profoundly.

Other sources of information for kids about current events and the church worldwide:

God's World News - Published by World Magazine, these age appropriate newpapers resemble the Weekly Readers I remember from my youth, but approach current events from a Christian perspective.

Kids of Courage - "The Voice of the Martyrs publishes Kids of Courage (formerly LINK) materials for children 5 to 13 so that families and schools can include children in learning about and serving the persecuted church." 


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