By Andrew Woodrow
Hundreds of young volunteers scattered across Illinois March 9 for a day of hands-on mission projects. IBSA’s annual Children’s Mission Day sent kids around the state to serve by baking cookies for first responders, visiting with residents at assisted living facilities, helping at local food banks, and dozens more projects.
At Chatham Baptist Church, nearly 70 children from six different churches gathered before heading to their project sites. Missy Doyle has organized Children’s Mission Day in the Springfield area for the past two years. As a former missionary, its value goes beyond helping children serve for one day. It’s about teaching the children the value and purpose of ministry.
“Missions is very close to my heart,” said Doyle, who serves as president-elect of Illinois Woman’s Missionary Union and is the wife of IBSA’s Dwayne Doyle. “And while what these kids do may seem small on a grand scale, it can spark a greater ministry. If we can get these kids to start thinking about missions at an early age, I’m all for it.”
That vision is why Woodland Baptist Church in Peoria has participated in Children’s Mission Day for the past five years. “Our church values missions,” said volunteer Laura Lee. “And it’s important for us to teach our kids to learn about it too—to learn about serving others, and getting a chance to see others who have different challenges than what they experience in their own lives.”
When they’re given a chance to serve others, kids enjoy it, said Jerry Weber, associate pastor at Chatham Baptist. “This gives the kids an opportunity to see life a little differently.”
After they finished their projects, the kids came back to the church and had an opportunity to share with each other what the day meant to them. Many said it taught them how to be kind, how to show Jesus’ love, and how to help others. Others said they discovered that people appreciated their service.
Doyle said she even heard people talking about taking Children’s Missions Day back home. “If we can drive an hour to do this here, then we can certainly do this in our own community as well,” one volunteer said.
“One baby step at a time,” Doyle said. “What we want these kids to see here is that they can emulate similar ministries in their own city or neighborhood. It builds from there. And the vision grows over the years to the point that they can share the gospel with whomever they meet.”
For more information about resources and events for children, go to IBSA.org/Kids.