by Megan K. Mertz
“When I was about 7 years old,” said the Rev. David Preus, “I wanted to be a missionary just like the apostle Paul in the Arch Book.”
Now years later, Preus; his wife, Jennifer; and their six children, ages 1 to 11, are preparing to move to the Dominican Republic, where Preus will serve as a missionary for the LCMS. His work will include planting new churches and supporting the growing Dominican Lutheran church.
The Rev. Dr. Edward Grimenstein, associate executive director of the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM), said Preus’ story isn’t unique.
“We have people applying to be missionaries who are 30, 40, 50 years old, and they still remember when they were 10, and a missionary came to their church, and they got excited about missions,” Grimenstein said. “They don’t want to be missionaries just because they’ll get to travel; they want to be missionaries because they want to tell people about Jesus. That’s awesome.”
To encourage LCMS members — especially children — to become more mission-minded, the OIM is releasing an updated version of Mission Friends, a free program that explores the wonders God is doing in proclaiming His Good News of salvation to the world.
The program, which was originally created in the 90s, is geared for fourth-graders, although it can be adapted for younger or older children.
Through the updated curriculum, children will learn about the 35 countries where LCMS missionaries currently are working. Materials for each country include passages from the Bible and Small Catechism; a story about the mission field; a coloring page; games, crafts and recipes; and a devotion for families to read together.
Thanks to assistance from Concordia Publishing House, Mission Friends will be available in two formats: (1) a digital version for use on computers or other devices, and (2) a downloadable PDF version.
On June 15, materials for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean will be available. Materials for the other four world regions — Africa, Eurasia, Southern Asia and Oceania, and Asia Pacific — will become available on a quarterly basis.
Eventually, Grimenstein also hopes to add a pen-pal component to Mission Friends, so children in the United States can connect by email or Skype with the Preus children and with those of other missionary families.
“By this summer, we will have 200 missionary kids on the field,” Grimenstein said. “We want the LCMS to begin supporting missions again by realizing the sacrifices missionary families make. [The pen-pal component] is one way to care for our missionaries and their children.”
Learn more: Visit lcms.org/missionfriends for updates about the June 15 release