Yesterday, my husband met with Christian families who fled Mosul. He and I talked over Skype about what the families had shared with him. After a few minutes, my three-year-old climbed up in my lap and asked what we were talking about.
I paused for a moment before I told him, “Papa met with a lot of people who are sad because some mean people took away all their things and made them leave their houses because they love Jesus.” My son looked serious as he thought about that. Then I emphasized, “They even took away all their toys.” At that, he got very somber. I wish I had a picture of his concerned little face. “But, why, mama?”
“Well, the mean people do not like that our friends love Jesus,” I told him. “We need to pray for our friends because they are sad, and we need to pray that the mean people will come to love Jesus and stop doing bad things.”
Later we looked at pictures of some of the Christians who fled Mosul. Some of them were families with young kids. I can’t imagine what it must be like to care for infants and toddlers while camping out in an unknown city because you’ve just fled from your home.
That night when I put him to bed, we prayed for “the people who lost their toys” and those who need to know and love Jesus. While some parents might have tried to shield their kids from this type of information, I think it is important for kids to know that following Christ can be difficult from the beginning. In our family, we talk about who God is and that he’s in control of everything, but that bad things happen and that when they do, we need to pray for our friends (our brothers and sisters in Christ) and encourage them. When my son misses his dad when he is gone, we tell him that he is doing his job by sitting with the sad people and encouraging them. As he grows older, we’ll expand on the information that we share with him.
In this country, our kids grow up with so much. I believe it’s important for them to learn early on that many others have a lot less than they do, and that the ease with which we worship Jesus is not something everyone enjoys. I’m glad to know that VOM offers resources for teaching kids about Christians around the world and persecution through www.kidsofcourage.com. With discernment, I hope to raise my kids knowing the truth about what our brothers and sisters face as well as the truth about what they might have to give up if they are really committed to following Christ.
YOUR TURN: What’s your opinion? Should we shield our kids from hard information until they are older? One of my good friends doesn’t want her kids to be frightened of the world or to have to leave childhood too early by learning about life’s difficulties. Is she right?
Dory P. grew up the daughter of missionaries in Ecuador, met her husband while working with another mission organization, and now lives in Oklahoma. Their family of four shares seven passports. Dory helps tell the stories of the persecuted through VOM's newsletter, and her husband serves with VOM's international department.