“Toilet Crisis at Phereni Primary School”—The subject line caught my attention. It was from a partner in Malawi who works with African Enterprise. I imagined overflowing johns, but on opening the email, I found something worse. Torrential rainfalls had caused the school’s outhouse to completely collapse. All that was left were gaping holes in the ground. For Phereni’s six hundred students, school attendance is almost impossible. It has been five months now, and the toilets have not been replaced. Malawi is one of the eight poorest countries in the world, and picking new toilets up at Home Depot just isn’t an option.
We talked about this at WOW last week. WOW stands for Wide Open World, and it is our global outreach education program for kids (age 4 through grade 6) that runs in the summer during the evening service. If your kids attended and came home with bad jokes, I apologize. (What did one toilet say to the other? You’re looking flushed). For the kids in Malawi with no toilets, it’s no joke. The WOW kids have resolved to use their passport stamps this summer to help the children at Phereni. They will be partnering with children at a Christian school in Brussels, who are raising the rest. This is a great lesson in partnership and how the body of Christ works together to meet one another’s needs.
But perhaps you are still wondering about WOW and why our kids have passports. In WOW we explore both what God is doing in the world and our opportunity to be part of it. The program varies from week to week. Sometimes we hear firsthand reports from our visiting partners; other weeks we break into classes by age, but we always begin by singing songs sung by believers in other lands, and end—drumroll please—with ice cream. During the week, kids read missionary biographies and do other activities that earn them stamps in their passports.
Each week this summer we are highlighting one family from Tenth serving overseas and the country in which they work. We want to strengthen our ties to our partners and especially to their kids. We want to make it so that when they drop in for a visit, we know their names and something about where they live. We want Tenth to feel like home for them.
Since so many of our partners serve in countries with security concerns, making those connections is challenging. Prayer requests in the bulletin just include first names and vague regional locations. Unless you have been regularly attending the Around the World in 80 Minutes lunches, it’s very hard to know just for whom you are praying. We hope to remedy that this summer.
Every week WOW kids will bring home two pieces of paper. One will highlight a global outreach family. It will have a picture, list the ages of the children, and include prayer requests. The other paper will highlight the country where they work and will include ideas to help your family connect to that culture. This may include recipes, ideas for art projects, or web quests to help your child find material online. By providing two sheets of paper, we avoid the security breach of saying where a particular partner works, but you can make the connection. The introduction to the country will also appear every Friday afternoon on the church blog. Accessing it there will enable your child to just click through to links rather than type in cumbersome web addresses.
If your child attends WOW, we encourage you to adopt the country of the week at home. Maybe you can have a themed meal or check out a library book. At the very least, we ask you to pray specifically for that week’s partner family. And if the family includes a child the age of one of yours, consider “adopting” that family for a more long-term connection. We’d be happy to help you sign up for email updates from the family or even help your child mail a letter to his “twin.”
And remember: These activities will help your child earn stamps in his WOW passport. At the end of the summer, we’ll count up the stamps and every stamp will be matched by a dollar donation to our WOW summer project: providing a bathroom for the school in Malawi where 600 children have no place “to go.”