Family faith-sharing tip:
As parents we have a special responsibility to help develop our children’s compassion and concern for others. Learning about people who are much poorer than they are can be very useful, especially when they can experience a taste of poverty for themselves, as in the activities below. Being kind to others, as often as we can, is also very important for their well-being and mental health. Help your children develop a passionate concern for those who suffer and struggle and support them in their projects to make a difference.
- James 1:27
- As Christians we are called to share what we have with those in need, even if they are very far away. Helping the poor is an important way to develop God’s loving compassion in our own hearts and to share His love in practical ways with others.
- 1 rice bowl per person
- Small amount of cooked rice
- 1 glass per person
- A jug of water made to look a little dirty with diluted tea, etc.
- 1 grocery sack per person
- Paper and coloring materials
- Internet or books from the library about poverty
What you do:
- Cook a small amount of plain white rice while you are cooking dinner for your family. Prepare the rest of the meal as normal and make sure it will easily stay hot for a few moments.
- Call your family for the meal, say grace, and then, without any comment or explanation, serve each person a small amount of rice and half a cup of dirty looking water.
- Carry on as if this is a perfectly normal meal. When they ask for more or begin to complain, ask them why they’re so upset, because what they have is all that many children in the world will have to eat today.
- Then tell your family not to worry because you have made a proper dinner. Ask each person to roll a die. The first person to roll a 6 will get a full dinner. Serve them their meal and then wait for a response (maybe “That’s not fair!”).
- Imagine together how the children felt who had only a small bowl of rice to eat today, knowing that other children in the world had big plates full of delicious food. Many families in richer countries will throw away more food in a day than many families in the poorer countries will eat in a day.
- After having a good discussion about poverty and hunger, serve everyone their food. It is hoped that they will appreciate their meal even more than usual.
- After the meal give everyone a grocery bag and tell them to pretend that they are poor children living on the streets. Send them to fill their bags with the things they would keep if they had only one bag, and if they had to carry the bag with them all the time to stop other people from stealing their things.
- Allow about 30 minutes and then ask everyone to show and tell what they put in their bags and why. This will help them to think about what’s really important in their lives, and how little some children have.
- Read aloud James 1:27 about taking care of poor people.
- How does Jesus feel when He sees some people who have lots of things but don’t share them, and some people who have almost nothing, but will share a crust of stale bread with another hungry person?
- What would Jesus like us to do to help take care of the poor people in the world?
- How can we help where we are?
- Share these possibilities: we can buy food for homeless people; give to ADRA, raise the money to buy a goat or some chickens for a poor family so they can have milk and eggs, collect pennies or dimes, etc. Choose a project with your children and do something to make a real difference this week.
- Help your children research on the Internet to learn about some of the world’s poorest countries and people, or where the poorest people are in your community. Find out about their greatest needs and concerns and who’s helping them.
- Then pray for this community, focusing your prayers specifically on their special needs and the people helping them. You could also make a poster of their needs to remind you to pray for them each time you eat a meal or open your closet door.
Play www.freerice.com. It’s a vocabulary-building game where 20 grains of rice are donated by large organizations to feeding projects for each of your correct answers. You learn new words and what they mean, and you can feed poor people at the same time—at no cost to you! Your family can even work together to try to “win” enough grains of rice a week to feed another family for a week. And it doesn’t cost you a penny!