God’s mission to make Himself known among all nations is reflected throughout human history. Yet, most believers have no knowledge of how the gospel spread in the centuries after the events recorded in Acts up until the 1700s when William Carey, the father of modern missions, came onto the scene. God can and does use many methods to spread His fame and He longs for believers in every age to partner with Him in the process.
Teaching Time: 20 minutes
Materials: one-quart jar of water with yellow food coloring; one-quart jar of water with blue food coloring; one plastic bowl with no water (bowl 1); one plastic bowl with clear water (bowl 2); eyedropper, medicine dropper, or baster; one rock, large enough to make a splash; large work area outside or inside work area protected with a large plastic tablecloth
- How did God plan for the good news about Jesus to spread to people in every culture? Read Mark 16:15. Believers are to share God’s Word with people who don’t know Him yet, in near and far-away places. When we look at history, we see that God’s people don’t always follow His plan. Pour yellow water in empty bowl 1. This water is like God’s Word. Just as the sides of the bowl keep the water in, believers often keep the truth of God’s word to themselves, choosing to hold onto what is familiar and safe rather than go to unknown areas or share God’s word with strangers.
- What does God do to get His word to more people? Sometimes He drops scary situations into the believers’ world that force them to move to other places. In the early church, God used persecution. Read Acts 8:1,4. Invite a child to drop a large rock into bowl 1 (now yellow), and let it splash out. God used persecution to spread believers and His Word throughout the Roman Empire.
- How else does God’s Word spread? Sometimes God takes His people by force to live in another culture. Viking raiders invaded the Christian lands, kidnapping some believers and carrying them home to be their slaves and wives. Point to bowl 2 (clear water) and tell the children it is the land of the Vikings. Let’s see what happens when believers come to live in Viking homes and towns. Have a child use the eyedropper or baster to remove colored water (yellow) from bowl 1 and squirt it into bowl 2. Ask what happens. As the believing women told the Vikings about Jesus, little by little, God’s Word spread, changing the hearts, lives, and culture of the Vikings.
- How else does God’s Word spread? Sometimes God brings outsiders to live in the lands of his people. Barbarians invaded and took over the Roman Empire. Many of the conquered people in the land were believers. Point to the remaining quart of blue water and tell the children it is the Barbarians invading the Romans. Pour the blue water into bowl 1 (yellow, now becoming green). Discuss the color changes. The Barbarian culture changed much about the Roman Empire. In addition, when believers shared their faith with their conquerors, some Barbarians turned to God. This changed the hearts, lives, and culture of the Barbarians.
- Think about events in our country’s history. How might God have used those events to spread out believers so that they could share the gospel in new areas and with new people? What parts of our culture today might cause us to come and go to those we would not naturally visit?
- How does it feel when God takes us out of our comfort zone to share the gospel? When we want to go? When we don’t want to go? In what ways might God be asking our family to step out of our comfort zone to tell people about Jesus?
Thank God for those believers who passed God’s word down to you and your family. Ask God to direct your family’s steps and make you aware of opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with those who need to know Him.