Debrief session for MKs

I recently had the pleasure of being involved in a debrief session for three Missionary Kids (MKs) who are on Home Assignment. The children’s ages ranged from about 3 to 8, so the debrief had to take on more of an activity-based feel. I thought I would share the session plans here in case anyone is planning something similar. I am indebted to OMF and Wycliffe for some of the ideas.


Debrief Outline

Emotions Board – use a page full of facial expressions to indicate various emotions and tell the children that we’re going to play a game about feelings. Give each child a counter/select a toy and place it on the emotion they may feel when:

  • You’re going to a party
  • You fall over and hurt your knee
  • You go to school
  • You eat chocolate cake
  • You fly in an airplane
  • You watch something fun on TV
  • You go on holiday
  • You have a sore tummy
  • You think about (the country they were in)
  • You think about (their sending country)

We want to learn about life in (the country they were in) – I have never been there. We also want to learn about life in (their sending country) and to see what things are the same and what things are different.

Use a globe to show the location of both countries. Do they remember the route that took them there?

Show a map and everybody to mark on the places they’ve lived – play ‘global graffiti’ with the map (see additional post).

Show a couple of precious items from (the country they were in) (ie photo album and a couple of wee keepsakes).

Show us your house / your school / the places you played / the people you knew

What were your favourite places?

Who were your favourite people?

Use ‘paper suitcases’ (ie A4 pages) to draw the things that you couldn’t bring back with you.

How does this make you feel?

It can be hard to say goodbye to people and places and things that we love. We can feel sad. Can you still stay friends when someone is far away?

Using “scratch art” (or use chalk on black paper) draw down some of the feelings you have about being back here. Some feelings are happy and some are sad and some are big and some are small and all of them are OK.

Use two circles, intersected – left is the country you were in  and right is ‘home’, and the middle is the same to show the things that were different in both places and the things that are the same:

Mum and dad


Draw together and pray, giving thanks to God for His constancy no matter where we are.

Explaining ‘authority’

I was talking with a group of children about Jesus’ authority to forgive sins and heal people. Some of them struggled with the idea of ‘authority’ so we talked about it by showing them a number of cards of people who help us:

doctor, dentist, bus driver, teacher, firefighter, police officer etc

We then asked some questions, such as:

Who has the authority to give me medicine if I am sick?
Who has the authority to drill holes in my teeth?
Who has the authority to drive you home from school?
Who has the authority to drive a fire engine?
Who has the authority to give you homework?
Who has the authority to put criminals in prison?

If someone else (like me!) tried to do any of these jobs I’d be in trouble because I don’t have the authority to do these things – I’m not able to do them, I’m not allowed to do them. These people can do these jobs because of who they are.

When it comes to forgiving sins and healing people, Jesus has the authority to do these things because of who He is – He is God’s own son, and the only one who has lived a perfect life.

What other things does Jesus have the authority to do? authority-boss-red-man

Explaining ‘ransom’

I’ve been mulling over how to explain the term “ransom” to younger children, to help with a Club I’ve been involved with – it’s a difficult term to understand at the best of times, especially if you’re very young.


With that in mind, I thought about how what we pay reflects the ‘preciousness’ of the thing we’re buying, and also indicates who is involved in the transaction, so I thought of a few things you might want to ‘ransom’, or buy back from a particular person, and what you might be willing to pay…

Mr Tayto (the face of a brand of crisps here in Northern Ireland – you might also use Julius Pringles (for that is apparently his name!)) has taken your favourite hat – what might you pay him to get it back? Potato

Bob the Builder has borrowed your hammer – what would you give him to get it back? Rawl plugs/screws/nails

Optimus Prime wants to sell you some furry dice for your car – what might you pay him with? De-icer or similar

Lady Gaga has taken your sausages to wear – what might you use to convince her to give them back? Hairspray

You want to buy Jack’s cow – what might he sell her for? Magic Beans

When it comes to buying something back, or paying a ransom for something, we can use all sorts of things to buy and swap. But did you know that we need to be bought back too? We are all caught up in sin – which means the wrong things we do – it’s like sin has trapped us and owns us and we can’t get out of it. So God wanted to buy us out of it – but because we are so special to Him He didn’t use potatoes or magic beans or even gold or money. We are so precious that God gave the most precious thing He has to ransom us – His own Son.

(Mark 10:45 is the verse we’re using to hang this on)


Storytelling Easter Eggs

Easter is almost upon us again and that means that, like me, your house has probably got a few of these in it (show Easter egg).

What is the best thing about Easter eggs? (take answers – they have a packet of sweets with them; they’re delicious; they’re made of chocolate; they’re a cool shape etc)

(If you have enough types of Easter eggs to hand, you could vote on your favourite egg)

I think the best thing about Easter eggs is that they’re really good storytellers!

Y’see, Easter eggs can tell us the story of the first Easter… here’s how:

The people of Israel were trapped, as though inside a box (show egg in box) – they weren’t really trapped inside anything, but they were trapped in the ways they thought and lived – they were always trying to live perfect lives and they kept on getting it wrong and making mistakes. They were worried that God would not love them if they kept on making mistakes but they didn’t know what else to do, so they felt sad and hopeless and trapped.

But then Jesus came. Jesus was not like the other people – He showed them how to live (take egg out of the box). He showed them what God is like; He showed them how to love; He healed them when they were sick… He was perfect when they were not. It was like He freed them from a wrong way of thinking and showed them that there was another way to live. (Show sweets that come with the egg) He made their lives sweeter and gave them good things.

(Put egg aside)

But they still worried about the mistakes they made – they needed someone to take away all the bad things… so Jesus helped them there as well. He died on the cross to take the blame for all the wrong things in the world ever, so that people could be sure that God loves them and that these wrong things weren’t getting in the way.

(Open the box out to show a cross (this is something you might like to prepare earlier))

Jesus died and was buried in a cave, and a large stone (show egg) was rolled in front of the cave’s entrance.

And that was the end of the story…

Except it wasn’t! The egg has something else to tell us: on the third day after His death, some of Jesus’ friends went to visit His grave and they found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance of the cave! When they looked inside the cave, they found that it was (open egg) empty!

Jesus is God’s Son, and Jesus is perfect, so He didn’t stay dead! He rose again and is still alive today!

So that’s how an Easter egg can tell you the story of the first Easter – the people were boxed up in wrong ways of thinking, but Jesus came to help them think in a different way; He gave them good things and died in their place. He was buried in a cave, but came back to life again. Forever!

Christians are like… a loo roll!

Talk about family resemblance – how people in a particular family might all look, sound, act the same way. For example, the Simpsons are all yellow; the Pig family in Peppa Pig are all pigs and Anna and Elsa in Frozen both sure do like to sing.

I thought I’d bring in this picture of my family to show you again – so gather round.

(Unveil the ‘picture’, which turns out to be a mirror!)

It’s you! Because YOU are my family. The Bible tells us that if we follow Jesus, we are children of God, so that makes us part of the same family circle! But do we have a family resemblance? Are we alike?

Well, I think we are, because we are all like this…

(Show toilet roll)

We are all like a loo roll – and we’re like a loo roll in three ways:

  • We’re soft. And I don’t mean that in a wimpy way – Ephesians 3 has one of my favourite verses where we’re told to be kind to one another, tender (or soft) hearted, and forgiving, because God, in Christ, forgave us first. So we should be soft-hearted, sharing with the poor, looking out for people who are sad or lonely, helpful whenever we can, so that people who look at us think that God is wonderful because the people in His family are soft. But…
  • We’re strong! And I don’t mean this in a muscly way – we’re strong because we have a helper. Before Jesus went to Heaven, He promised that He would send the Holy Spirit, and Acts 2 tells about how the Holy Spirit came to help people like you and me live for Jesus – He is the One who helps us to pray, and to stick with Jesus when no-one else does, and to be brave in inviting someone to Church or when we talk to them about Jesus.
  • Thirdly, our lives are very long! The Bible, in John, says that we who follow Jesus have eternal life – that means we live a life that has no end, because even when we die here on Earth, we go to be with God in a new Heaven and a new Earth forever without end. This toilet roll ends, but life the Christian does not.

So, my little loo rolls, we are all alike because we are soft, we are strong and our lives are very very very very very very long… and it’s all because of Jesus.

Jesus heals the Paralysed Man… told with Story Sticks

Story Sticks are a great, easy way to tell almost any Bible story (go on, challenge yourself to see how you get on with a random passage).

For those who haven’t used them before, the easiest way to make a set of story sticks is to cut an A4 sheet into four strips lengthways and to attach the strips using split pins so you have a row of four sticks.

This handout walks you through how to tell a very familiar Bible story.

Paralysed man card

Suggested songs

Here’s a list of tried and tested Children’s songs (and my personal favourites) – all are available on iTunes and various other online stores.


• “I’m Gonna Jump up and Down” – Lovely Jubbly (Duggie Dug Dug)

• “I’m Ready to Go” – Songs Jesus Said (Getty Music)

• “Our God is a Great Big God” – Kid’s Vineyard Worship: Great Big God (Vineyard UK)

• “I reach up high” – Kids Praise Party: We wanna be like Jesus (Spring Harvest)

• “You’re everywhere” – Great Big God 4 (Vineyard UK)

• “God, You’re good to me” – Kids Vineyard Worship: Great Big God (Vineyard UK)

• “Jesus number 1” – Super Saviour (Colin Buchanan)

• “Shine!” – Shine from the inside out (Powerpack Ministries)

• “I’m ready to go” – Songs that Jesus said (Keith and Kristyn Getty)

• “Never give up” – Jesus is my Superhero (Hillsong kids)

• “I’m following the king” – Meet the King (EMU Music)

• “Nothing’s too big, big, big” – Okey Dokey (Duggie Dug Dug)

• “May you find peace” – I wonder… why? (Fischy Music)

• “Here’s a little story” – Down to Earth (Fischy Music)

• “Down to Earth” – Down to Earth (Fischy Music)

• “God is love” – Unique (Nick and Becky Drake)

• “Fruit of the Spirit” – Crazy Praise Vol 2: Songs from the Lighter Side (Kid Jamz Studio Musicians)

• “The Lions Roar” – Pre-School Praise Vol 2 (Spring Harvest)

• “God loves you and you and you” – Little Angels: Real Worship for Pre-Schoolers (New Wine)

Columbus and the Eclipse

About 500 years ago, Christopher Columbus was on his fourth voyage to the New World (which, of course, would come to be known as America). However, on this journey, Columbus and his crew ran into some trouble in the shape of woodworm! His ship was full of them and he was forced to beach his ship in Jamaica and make the necessary repairs. However, the ship was fairly badly damaged so they were stranded there for more than a year!

The locals were fascinated by Columbus and his crew and treated them well, bringing them food and helping them whenever they could. Unfortunately, Columbus’ crew weren’t quite as nice to the Jamaicans and often cheated and stole from them!

Eventually the Natives grew tired of this and decided to stop bringing food to Columbus and his crew. The crew wanted to fight with them but Columbus knew that that would case more trouble… and he had a plan… Columbus was interested in other things beyond sea-faring and knew something about astronomy that he thought might help him. So, he called a meeting with the local chiefs on February 29th 1504, just before sunset…

Columbus stood up before the crowd and said: “God is unhappy! He doesn’t like the way you’re treating us by stopping our food and He is going to show how unhappy He is by removing the moon from the sky!”

The sun set and the moon rose and the Natives began to laugh… until…something started happening to the moon… it began to dim and started to turn as red as blood. Then, slowly, very slowly, it began to disappear! The Natives were terrified! They believed that Columbus really could communicate with God and control the moon!

(But what was happening do you think?)

They pleaded with Columbus to undo what he had done and he said that God would indeed undo this frightening thing if the Natives would start to provide the crew with food again. Of course they agreed and the deal was sealed and, soon after, the eclipse ended and the moon was back to its former self, and the problems were solved.

Now, of course, we know that Christopher had no control over the sun and moon and simply knew that an eclipse was near…

However, things are different when it comes to God – the Bible tells us that He has created the sun, moon and stars and that once, when His people were at war, God even stopped the sun in the sky to show that He was fighting for them!

So, God is the God Who is in actual control of the very sun, moon and starts, not in pretend control like Columbus. And this should give us comfort – because the same God who has kept them in motion since the beginning of the World is the same God Who loves us and works for our good. God is good, and He’s good for 365 days a year, but this year, on a Leap Year, He’ll be good to us for 366 days – now that’s special!!

So let’s give thanks to Him.