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WMU children’s curriculum to make missions education easier

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Today’s children are tomorrow’s missionaries and missions leaders in Southern Baptist churches, so Woman’s Missionary Union is taking children’s missions education to the next level, describing their new materials as “relevant, redesigned and ready-to-use.”

“Think about it,” said Mitzi Eaker, children’s resource consultant for national WMU. “How often do we hear missionaries, directors of missions and missions leaders in our churches relate that they first heard God’s call to service as a member of Girls in Action or Royal Ambassadors? Although it’s been more than 90 years since these organizations began, nurturing a heart for missions in the life of a child continues to be imperative today.”

Currently, WMU offers missions education for girls in grades 1–6 through Girls in Action and coed programs for children in grades 1–6 through Children in Action. Royal Ambassadors, the missions education program for boys, was founded by WMU and is resourced by the North American Mission Board.

“Missions education and involvement is the singular focus of WMU,” said Wanda S. Lee, executive director-treasurer of WMU. “We know that God is at work changing the lives of children through Girls in Action and Children in Action as they learn how to pray for and support missionaries and their work and become personally involved in missions themselves.”

Following more than two years of extensive research, leaders and members of Girls in Action and Children in Action will notice significant improvements in their materials next year.

Many people participated in the research, including GA and CiA leaders and parents, state WMU leaders, the WMU advisory group for children’s resources, children’s ministry experts and curriculum writers. Based on their input, the children’s team of WMU developed sample lesson plans to use in a pilot project for GA and CiA. In April 2006, more than 100 churches received the new curriculum design, used these materials in the classroom for one month, and provided feedback. In addition, WMU leaders in every state convention were asked to review the pilot materials.

“WMU’s goals in the redesign process were to ensure new materials be user-friendly, meet the needs of a variety of churches, are competitive with other children’s curricula, teach missions with a discipleship component and support themselves financially,” said Carol Causey, WMU’s missions resource center director. “The new materials meet these criteria and more as children are challenged and encouraged to grow in their understanding of God and His plan for their lives.”

Eaker described the responses as very positive overall. The vast majority of leaders reported a good experience with the materials and said the children enjoyed the study. Leaders loved the bold, bright, cheerful colors and updated look. Respondents repeatedly described the materials as “easy-to-use,” a feature they appreciated.

Changes were implemented based on the feedback offered, and on Sept. 30, WMU board members at their annual meeting in Ridgecrest, N.C., approved the following changes to be implemented beginning next September:

— The name of “Aware,” the current publication for GA leaders, will change to “GA Leader,” will be published bimonthly and will sell for an annual subscription rate of $24.99.

— GA World, the current publication for Girls in Action in grades 4–6, will be redesigned for all GAs in grades 1–6 and will be published bimonthly with an annual subscription rate of $16.99.

— Discovery, the current publication for Girls in Action in grades 1–3, will be discontinued with the August 2007 issue.

— The Aware Resource Kit and Aware Picture Set will be combined to create a GA Leader Kit to be published bimonthly with an annual subscription rate of $54.99.

— The name of “Missions MatchFile,” the current resource for leaders of Children in Action, will change to “Children in Action Leader” and be published bimonthly with an annual subscription rate of $69.99.

“We are really excited to launch the redesigned curriculum line for GA and CiA,” Eaker said. “The bimonthly frequency will make missions information in the curriculum more relevant; the redesigned look is fresh and appealing; and the ‘ready-to-use’ curriculum is created to combine a minimum amount of preparation with a maximum amount of learning.”

Eaker said the new materials also are designed to be more interactive. “The girls will love the new interactive GA magazine for grades 1–6, GA World, as they see how their own GA peers are living out their faith by participating in missions,” she said.

Web-based leadership training on the new design to launch next September begins April 1 on the GA website, www.gapassport.com, and the CiA website, www.wmucia.com. For more information on Girls in Action or Children in Action, visit WMU’s website at www.wmu.com or call WMU toll-free at 1-800-968-7301.