I’m very excited about today’s blog post, written by my friend Olive Swan. Olive works for Voice of the Martyrs. She also writes fiction from a Christian perspective and blogs about spiritual applicationson her blog theoliveswan.com She is the author of New Creation:One Man’s Six Day Transformation.
Should children be introduced to Christian persecution around the world?
Wait, what? Let’s rewind.
Should our children be introduced to persecuted Christians around the world?
In that case, the answer is a resounding “Absolutely!”
I’m a firm believer in informing children about their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. We sometimes talk about “the persecuted Church,” “Church in the West,” or the “American Church” but those terms are impersonal and inaccurate. There is one Church, and it is the body of Christ. When one part of our physical body hurts, the rest of the body is aware of it. This should be the same for our spiritual body.
Children are capable of compassion for the hurting, and the fact that persecution happens shouldn’t be hidden just because the details may be too much for them. Age-appropriate resources exist to help our kids learn about the members of our spiritual body that face attacks, imprisonment, and loss because of their faith.
From Information to Inspiration
One of the best resources for teaching children about persecution is The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) website, Kids of Courage, created for parents and teachers to introduce children to persecuted Christians – some who are even their age – in an appropriate way.
The website features stories to read to children, downloadable resources, and booklets with activities and prayer points. The resources are informational andinspirational; children can learn about persecution while being encouraged to live boldly for Jesus in their neighborhood, schools, and with their friends.
If your children are tweens and teens, VOM sells the Restricted Nations series, featuring countries like China, North Korea, Syria, and many others. These books can be read in one or two sittings and give the history of persecution in those nations. The books include sidebars of historical or contemporary martyrs. VOM’s free monthly newsletter features recent stories of persecuted Christians in places that we see on the news every day. These stories draw us closer into fellowship with other members of the body of Christ.
From Head to Heart
Of course, because of news broadcasts and internet videos, it’s likely that you won’t have to introduce your children to persecuted Christians. They may hear of the kidnapping of Christian girls in Nigerian villages or the bombing of churches in Pakistan.
These locations are a world away. How do we provide context when our children ask how anyone could do such a horrible thing?
Open Doors’s World Watch List report provides short statistics about the top restricted nations in the world. The Voice of the Martyrs offers a similar resource from a different perspective; their Global Prayer Guide includes some stats, but also information about the church, Christian life, and availability of Bibles in these nations, including the nuances of persecution, developed to help the believer know howto pray.
Since we can’t teach what we don’t know, these tools may not be something you give your child directly. However, they can be helpful in preparing us to answer their questions and give them knowledge for their prayers.
In the end though, introducing our children to persecution isn’t starting with a theology of suffering lecture or a lists of laws curtailing Christianity around the world. It’s reading to them of a persecuted Christian living boldly for Christ … no matter the cost.