Written by Alyssa J

“Sit down for morning basket!”

That call is heard in my home every weekday at around 9:30 am. We start our homeschool mornings by gathering around the couch to center ourselves with goodness, truth and beauty served out of a basket of carefully selected books and resources. 

Some mornings, we may pull out Scripture memory, The World Treasury of Children’s Literature, Book of Virtues illustrated, or a children’s missionary biography. But EVERY morning I insist on starting with a tattered photo album full of missionary prayer cards and our new book, Who Are Frontier People Groups?, a prayer guide for families.

After the clamor settles over who gets to choose the people group of the day and I twice prevent my coffee mug from a messy fall to the floor, one child snatches my phone and plays the Who are Frontier People Groups? podcast on Spotify.

The children engage instantly, listening to the exotic intro music.  We then imagine the colorful character pictured as the lilting voice narrates, “Salaam, I’m Mahzala, a Pashtun woman from Pakistan…” We turn to the map page of the prayer guide and touch the country of this people group. Sometimes I tell the kids to close their eyes while we listen. However imperfect and distracted the children can seem in their prayer, we take turns talking to God about the people group and end with “Amen.” I’ll always smile hearing my four-year-old ask God “that the Kazakh people would be good and eat their food.” 

It takes about two months to go through the entire prayer guide and then we start over again. It’s become our new prayer ritual and will be, I hope, a lasting trademark of our home and family. 

Just as we serve healthy meals to nourish their physical bodies, my husband and I must provide spiritual nurturing for our children’s faith. This is much more than understanding salvation in Christ: it also extends to knowing their place in God’s created order, gaining God’s heart for the “ethne,” and understanding their adoption into His Kingdom plan. I see us as co-laborers with God, shaping their worldview about His mission.

I grew up knowing a lot of missionaries, all wonderful people hosted in my grandparent’s home and was given missionary biographies regularly as assigned (and fun!) reading. These greatly shaped my life direction and personal calling. My husband and I were invited to join a team in North India early on in our marriage, which further directed my thinking and perception about God’s movements among non-Western religions, and made us seek community with other believers who prioritized things around reaching non-believers for Christ.

Now, back in Washington state raising four kids under age 8, I want my children to start from that knowledge on their journey with God and go even further. To do this well, I need to help them get regular doses of current and strategic missions information. The new Who are Frontier People Groups? guide and the accompanying podcast are perfect sources. 

They say kids need “mirrors and windows” throughout their education: mirrors reflect a child’s own experience and build their identity, and windows give the child a view into a different perspective and experience. My family has found “mirrors and windows” in many excellent Christian and non-Christian resources. A few examples: Children Just Like Me (Kindersley), photojournalism of lives of kids and their families on every continent; Hero Tales (Jackson), inspirational missionary biographies for children; Around the World with Kate & Mack (Paredes), a kid’s guide to language and Bible translation projects among the world’s “Bibleless” peoples; and even the More With Less cookbook (Longacre), which gives a God-honoring global perspective to our eating choices. 

I’m grateful Indigitous and the artists behind the prayer guide added many child characters with relatable and interesting traits. This turns the abstractness of praying for millions of strangers we’ve never met into something the kids can do with a sense of personhood and place. 

The resources I choose must provide mirrors and windows without missing the point: God has made us, saved us and called us to pray for AND go to the least reached parts of the world with His good news. But this mission will be met with opposition. The prayer guide and podcast don’t leave out the ugly bits, which gives me an opportunity to explain and model prayer about persecution, addiction, cultural annihilation, poverty, and violence in an age-sensitive way. Jesus told us, “In this world you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33). 

The larger our family grows (I’m expecting number 5!) and the older our children get (we just ordered standardized testing for the first time for our eldest), I realize it’s true: we are given just a few short years to influence our children directly within our home. But those years shape how they will wield their own influence out in the world. I am so thankful we have easy access to tools like this guide and podcast to help me pray specifically and strategically with my children about the frontier peoples of today. 

The best part? It doesn’t need to be done perfectly to have a powerful effect. This is a mustard seed moment in my busy day of read-alouds, diaper changes, and meal prep. It will be of incalculable value years from now, and I am only called to be faithful to prayer with my children today. 

Think back to the first page of You Can Change the World 1994 edition by Jill Johnstone, (just picture illustrations of 90’s kids wearing primary-colored sweatshirts touching a globe on the cover, definitely a “mirror” for me back then) and you will see a colorful spread featuring post-communist Albania. I remember my mom reading that page to me and my siblings on the couch. “Why would anyone be a Muslim?” I wondered while praying for those people I didn’t know. But the amazing thing is, just twenty-five years later, Albania has a thriving church, with Christians numbering 0.6 % of the population, and they are sending missionaries to other nations, too. My prayer today is that my kids will see the frontier people groups become “reached” within their lifetime and praise the God who answers the sincere prayers of their childhood.

Mother, homeschooler, and member of Telos Fellowship, who loves Jesus, cockatiels, new recipes, and children’s books.