What is it really like to be a Christian missionary in a faraway country? My 5th grade Sunday school students had watched video clips of international missionaries but I wanted something even more personal for my students — thus the idea to videoconference via Skype (www.skype.com) with missionaries in Madagascar.
Questions such as “Is it safe?”, “What kind of food do you eat?”, “How do you go about telling others about Jesus?”, “What kind of house do you live in?”, and “Do you have running water and electricity?” were not answered in traditional videos yet were easily answered via our Skype sessions.
Our first Skype session was a wonderful learning experience. It was such a success that our middle and high school VBS students Skyped with missionaries in Guatemala a few weeks later. Check out pics from both sessions at my Techie Church Kids Facebook page.
Listed below are some helpful tips.
Prior to the session
- Identify missionaries who would be interested in videoconferencing. Our church had an existing relationship with the Snyders in Madagascar. The Dodd family in Guatemala had relatives who were members of our church. The International Mission Board (www.imb.org) is also a good resource. I used Facebook’s Messenger app and email to communicate.
- Schedule the event. Consider the difference in time zones. We were able to schedule during times the kids would normally be at church.
- Successfully complete a test Skype session at least a day before the actual videoconference to make sure all software and hardware are working properly. If the video doesn’t work, audio only can be a backup plan.
For Kids to Complete In Class Prior to Session With Help from Teacher
- Many missionaries have a blog and Facebook page. Read about their work and life as missionaries. Share info with classmates.
- Complete a Facebook scavenger hunt based on questions created by the teacher.
- Research geography, weather, and the time zone using Google Earth, Google, and http://www.timeanddate.com/time/map/.
- Brainstorm questions for the missionaries. Email them a week prior to the event.
After the Session
- Send an electronic or snail mail thank you note from the class. Invite them to your church when they return home for a visit.
- Encourage kids to continue to pray for their new missionary friends and their work.