Encouraging Children to Impact the World for God's Glory
"Go and make disciples of every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Go and teach them to observe all I have commanded, and I will be with you until the end of the age."
Matthew 28:19-20 The Great Commission
One of our top ten goals as homeschooling parents is to instill in our children a heart for missions. Each year at Christmas we work with Operation Christmas Child as a family, filling up boxes for little ones in far off places who may not receive anything else all year. Tex will spend a few days at his grandparents' house with friends (his grandparents run the program in their large church) so they can help pack the big boxes of little boxes and load the large trucks. Daddy will take the Three Amigos on Sunday to Nanny and Poppy's church to help collect the last of the donations. Other years we've also contributed to Angel Tree, adopted individual families, or worked with other services, like the military, to fill community needs.
During the rest of the year we show missions support by providing funds for individuals on a monthly and/or one time basis and sent out family members as needed during times of disaster, like after hurricanes. We make donations of items and do our best to find opportunities to include the kids in missions projects. Bubba was blessed to take a five week missions trip during his high school years, and I have hopes that Tex will make at least one similar trip during the next few years. We encourage our children to choose Spanish as their foreign language as it seems to provide the most opportunities to use it on the missions field.
Beyond that, however, there isn't much more I can say. I see families like the Duggars (on TV) making yearly trips to foreign places to work with orphans and can't imagine being able to do that. My husband's job is so demanding, it will be years before retirement allows him the opportunity to take the older kids out of country to serve others. I hear of other families whose children decide to be missionaries and wonder what influences made the idea even a possibility...I know when I was growing up, not much entered my thoughts beyond horses or being a vet...and it took years after college before I realized I might have been a great librarian or social worker, jobs I never considered because I just didn't experience them (beyond checking out books, that is), let alone the missions field.
Some families have the privilege of knowing some missionaries personally. We've moved around so much because of our military lifestyle that we haven't developed the community ties that make it possible for us to be familiar enough with local folks like that we could invite into our home to have dinner with us and to talk with the kids. Honestly, while I don't personally imagine any of my children in a dangerous third world country taking chances every day with their lives for the call of Christ (nor do I imagine any of them joining the armed services and getting shot at, if you know what I mean), I do know that is a possibility. I would not want to be the one to stand in the way of their answering God's calling on their lives, and I do not want to be an impediment to their finding out what it is. But honestly, if it is foreign missions, how am I going to give them any idea of what missions is if my only experiences with it are limited to those on the home front?
Well, now that I've discovered Growing Up Wild, I think I've found a way to at least expose them to the idea and the reality of what some missionaries go through, in a way that is fun, interesting, and likely to encourage them to want to explore the potential of the calling on their own. Growing Up Wild is a collection of DVDs that takes you into the jungles of Indonesia and shows you the day to day exploits of the four Wild brothers. Beyond that, it lays out the basics of foreign missions, in the context of this one family's experiences, in a way that is understandable and honestly, lights a fire in their hearts to know more.
I was amazed that they not only have running water and electricity (real toilets and a glass enclosed shower, even), but they have computers, a school room, and the coolest Lego Loft (my kids LOVED that). I told Ladybug, "Wow. I love it. I could live in that house. It's so simple, yet complete." She replied, "No you couldn't, Mom. They have tarantulas living in the rafters." True. That's a deal breaker for me for sure. The Wild boys shoot them with rubber bands and spear them when the population gets too big or they get too close. Otherwise, they are accepted since they do a good job keeping the insect population down. Ugh. Shiver.
At the end of each segment, which on this tape were all narrated by the mother (Dad narrates a few in DVD #4), ideas for integrating the information you were given during the piece are offered. This particular story opened with how their dad picked the home site because of a beautiful HUGE tree nearby he knew his wife would love to see every day, and it suggests that you find a tree near your house that is inspiring and draw it. The story also includes mention of one of the tribal men who loves to spin a yarn, so they suggest that you find a relative or neighbor who likes to tell stories and listen to and/or write down a few of them.
A third suggestion for this segment is that you look up how houses are made in your area and other areas and read them, and I can think of at least five books in our library, plus another video or two that cover that topic...unit study! Another fine suggestion is to draw a Venn diagram of how the Wilds' house is similar to and different from yours and from the Wano houses (the Wano people are communal and many generations share their homes with each other and with their animals...they also have no furniture!). The last one of the five suggestions available at the end of every segment is the one my kids want to do on the available day (since we watched the video again to refresh our memories of it) is to construct a model of a Wano style house using twigs and other materials. Now I realize why after our initial watching of the video they found a corner of the horse pasture with a few small trees where they started to construct kid-sized stick huts...this video! They've played in those regularly for a month. What about that is there to not like? Each DVD even comes with an additional CD which contains an activity guide that gives more guidance for each of the suggested activities. Excellent! Here is a sample of the activity guide for the first disk.
The other two segments in the first DVD covered the way the family obtains electricity (solar panels) and water (gathered from an uphill clear water source using gravity...simple and simply ingenious at the same time) and how they go "out of country" to obtain supplies and to connect with other missionaries in their area. The house segment will inspire your budding architects and your homemakers (I really think I could be quite happy there, if not for the spiders...even the pythons did not bother me that much), power segment will inspire your budding engineers, and the one about getting supplies will encourage your wanna-be pilots.
I know this may sound simple of me, but while I have tried to be open to each of my kids being called to any career from architect to army doctor, teacher to technician, homemaker to horseman, I never considered any of those jobs in light of using them on the mission field. It's obvious to me how a doctor can help on the missions field, and a translator, but I never would have considered my tech savvy guy working with radios to keep in touch with missionaries all over a foreign country, or my budding park ranger to perhaps range away far from his home. But if that is what God has in mind, it could happen...and these videos may be one key that will unlock the possibility in their minds.
The other DVD we viewed, the fourth one, is just as good. While during our initial viewing I didn't appreciate the first segment about the creatures the Wilds' encounter every day since I saw it first and on its own (I didn't feel it was "deep" enough since I was comparing its "mission" to stuff like Ken Ham and other creation science materials...but its intent is to glorify God and simply introduce the variety the children encounter daily within the scope of what you already know about them), seeing it after all I've learned about the family from that first DVD makes me really appreciative of the content...and the kids loved seeing the bugs, the snakes, and how similar their cats are to ours. Their cat likes to play with and eat bugs and mice. We have one that just the other day stalked a spider cricket (creepy bugs...I found one leg left the next day), and another that loves toads and moles. Living in the country, our most hated vermin is mice (which surprisingly was their most disliked vermin, not the spiders), and I've been stalking those that are trying to come in and make a home for the winter somewhere warm all week with Molly's help. It was interesting to see the similarities, alongside the differences.
My favorite thing about the videos, though, was how clearly they laid out their calling to the missions field, and showed that there are many ways to serve. I appreciated hearing their story, and their uncle's story (he works in a village within a few hours of theirs by plane), and how they began their journey of outreach to the people of Indonesia. It was fascinating to hear how they had to move in not knowing the language at all, and that it took them three years to master it. Now they run a school for all the people and also the church for the 69 (I think) converts in the village. Their aunt translates the Bible and other texts to help native peoples learn, and the Wilds' had to develop a written language. Daunting. Impressive. Made possible only by God.
I believe these videos would be valuable to a variety of folks. They would be useful for a Sunday School class (running a family or youth Sunday School class? This would be a fun conversation starter!), or for Wednesday church, or a home Bible study. I'd love to have friends over to view a segment and do a day long (or multiple day) unit study with these. Church libraries should have these videos for people to check out. I will be purchasing the other three to keep in my Lifetime of Learning Library. They are also just plain fun to watch. As we watched them together again yesterday, my kids told me over and over again, "Oh Mom, watch this. It is my favorite part." And my formerly squeamish Ladybug, who groaned and covered her eyes the first time we watched the videos and the pet green python was on the screen (which is actually yellow because it is young) said this last time as we watched them together, "The snakes used to bother me, but now it's no big deal." Way to go, girl!
One funny comment was, "Mom, two of the boys have hair like Cowboy and Boo's, but two of them have curly long hair like a girl." Cultural difference there. *smile* We don't see too many long-haired guys around here. Too many military folks. Another comment was, "It's hot there, Mom. That's why those boys don't ever wear their shirts. Don't let it bother you." (We have a rule around here to always wear shirts unless mowing the back 14 in hot weather...not wearing shirts is not allowed in the front yard for boys, and for girls, obviously, ever!). "They try not to show too much of the natives (notice the wording was 'too much of,' not 'too many of'...they show plenty of native people), Mom, but they don't wear many clothes." The Wano people are scantily clad, but the way it is filmed, and, I think partially because they are so dark-skinned, you just don't focus on or really notice that fact too much.
No bad language. Creepy snakes and bugs. God-affirming messages and scriptures...Mr. Wild shares the Gospel story and there is footage of one of the Wano people giving his testimony in one of the segments. Scantily clad people. Gorgeous scenery. Body piercings...demonstrated on camera...eeyeuw. Mrs. Wild let her two oldest boys get their noses piereced (a native custom) with a STICK. She talked about how she wrestled with it, then decided how God's word allows for different customs as long as there is nothing unsacred behind the reasons for the custom. The boys teared up, but were brave (no anesthesia...ack!). At the end of the segment, one of the suggested activities was to find a stick, sharpen it, and pierce your nose...NOT! No, actually, they jokingly suggested it, then said, "No, just kidding...do NOT try this at home!" The kids howled over that one.
Good morals. Happy family. Personally challenging. Informative. Interesting. Funny at times. Humbling at others. You will be challenged to pray and to figure out what God wants you and your family to personally do to share the Gospel with other people...does He want you to pray, to give, or to go? He calls us all to do something...are you doing enough? After seeing these videos, you may not think you are doing enough, so if you don't want to be challenged, you might want to skip them. Otherwise, I give them a hearty two thumbs up. I think that watching these will help your kids and mine grow up wild about foreign missions...and that's an eternally good thing.
If you would like to learn more about the Growing Up Wild DVDs, you can check out their website.
See some sample videos of Growing Up Wild and learn about the people who made it.
See a sample of the activity guides that come with each DVD on a separate cd. What an excellent resource to tap into!
Meet their family on their blog and check out their Jungle Journal...recipes, games, etc.!
Volume One is available for $18.99 and covers building and touring their house, how they buy supplies and the necessary aerial support, and obtaining electricity and water. (I definitely recommend purchasing the first video first, though, even if the topics on other DVDs intrigue you more. It is definitely worth it to get the background of the family's set up first.)
Volume Two is available for $18.99 and covers adventures indoors on a rainy day (with memories of a tropical surfing excursion), exciting outdoor adventures on a hiking and camping trip, plus flora and fauna outside their home.
Volume Three is available for $18.99 and covers the blessings of the good earth and how a seed can feed a village, the history of the jungle and the terrain surrounding the Wilds' home, and how illness in the jungle and compassion for the sick can have eternal consequences.
Volume Four is available for $18.99 and covers God's amazing creation in Indonesia, tribal/cultural differences and customs, and the calling to the missions field. This is the one with the native testimony. Very touching and convicting.
Volume Five is available for $18.99 and covers discovering the language, the feast, and misconception of missions. The page linked to shows the correct image, but has write ups of the wrong segments. Sounds good, though!
Here's a freebie that goes right along with these lovely videos. Teaching With God's Heart for the World is a free two volume curriculum that teaches world geography with an emphasis on missions. I have a printed copy of this excellent curriculum and it is wonderful, even if you only delve into it deeply enough to find Indonesia and do that chapter to go with the Growing Up Wild DVDs you purchase...
If you'd like to read what others on the Schoolhouse Review Crew have to say about this product, please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.
Disclaimer: I received two videos from the Growing Up Wild collections (#1 and #4) for the purposes of completing this review. All opinions stated here are my own or those of my family. No other compensation was received.