Bringing Your Kids Alongside you to Serve Others


As Clarissa grows, one of my goals is for her to have a heart that wants to serve others and not just herself. At first it seemed hard to find ways for her to serve others since she is only five. But I have found that one of the best ways to do this, is to just bring her alongside when we serve.

Some ways that we do this in everyday life:

  • Meals
    If someone we has a baby or needs surgery or something like that, there is usually some kind of meal train. We sign up and take a meal to that family. Clarissa might help me make the meal. But she always wants to make dessert. So she helps me bake something for the family and also usually comes with me to deliver the meal.
  • Babysitting
    Living in an army community overseas, there are not usually family members around to help. Friends become that family for you while you are here. If a friend has a doctor appointment or a job interview, we can watch their children. Clarissa isn’t old enough to be in charge, but she can play and share her toys with the children at our house.
  • Sunday School
    If I am teaching Sunday School, Clarissa can help me prepare. She helps me choose materials for her class. On Sunday morning, she goes with me to set up the supplies before class starts.
  • Sponsor a Child
    Once a child is three years old, they are eligible to be a sponsored child for Compassion International. On Clarissa’s third birthday, we went on their website and found a list of a three kids who were born on her birthday. I thought for sure she would choose the little girl, but she was adamant that she wanted to choose a boy. She helps me write letters and draw pictures for our sponsored child. We pray for him and his family. We talk about what the money we send does for his family. I think she is still disappointed that we have yet to meet him in person but hopefully we’ll get to do that someday.
  • Responding to Needs
    Facebook can be a helpful tool. A few times we have seen posts on our community pages that describe a specific need. For example, one time there was a woman whose brother’s house burned down and his family lost anything. She was asking for donations of clothes for the children and one was a little girl Clarissa’s size. We have more than enough so Clarissa and I went through her things and found clothes, shoes, books, and toys that we could send for the little girl.

It is getting closer to Christmas so families are often looking for ways to serve. There are plenty of holiday specific things you can do.

  • Operation Christmas Child
    In America, this is one of my favorite things to do. I collect things all year like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and small toys to put in our shoeboxes. There aren’t any drop off points in Korea, so I was sad that we would not be able to participate here. But there is an online option. For $25 per box, we can assemble a shoebox online. Clarissa and I can choose gender, age, and specific items in each category for our shoebox. We can also enclose a family picture and write a note. Then we pray for the child who will receive our shoebox. It is one of Clarissa’s favorite things to do.img_20181025_1140496001063227302204537.jpg


  • Angel Tree
    Angel Tree is a program that gives children with incarcerated parents gifts for Christmas. Many churches or community centers participate in this program. You can find a child’s ornament on the tree and buy gifts for that child to bring back to be distributed. Some churches do their own version of this. In Korea, the chapel did something similar with children at a nearby orphanage. Clarissa enjoyed going with me to the px to buy some clothes and toys for the child.
  • Christmas gift for Jesus
    On Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Some families do a birthday party for Jesus complete with cake. We also choose some gifts for Jesus. Several ministries send out a gift catalog in the fall. This year, Clarissa looked through the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Catalog and spent several days deciding what we wanted to do. She wanted to give more than our budget so it was hard to choose specific items. She kept wanting to do the feeding people and medical gifts. We ended up choosing a goat since that would feed a family for a long time. She also chose sending winter coats to kids. When she is older and has an allowance, it will be interesting to see if she is willing to pay for these things herself. But for now, she is learning about the needs of others.
  • Soup kitchens
    This is really something that you can do all year, but many people only think about it during the holidays. There are several people in your community who don’t have a place to stay or enough food to eat. You can go as a family to serve them a meal.

Power of Half 


I need to do a better job of taking time to read when I am not traveling.  I heard about The Power of Half some time when we were still living in the United States. I didn’t start reading it until our trip to Hawaii.

The book is the story of a family of four who decided that they wanted to sell their big house in the suburbs and move into something smaller so they could use the money to help others. The book is written by the father and daughter of the family.  The father,  Kevin,  narrates the story.  At the end of each chapter,  Hannah,  gives some practical advice for families who would like to do something like this.

The Salwen family found a great house in their current neighborhood worth half the value of the house they were living in.  They had to sell or donate many household items to downsize into their new home. They thought it was a great fit for them and moved in before their house was sold.

The family spent a lot of time researching and discussing what they really wanted to do as a family.  The Salwens met with different organizations before they decided as a family how they really thought they could make a difference.

Their project of choice was to fund two epicenters in Ghana with the Hunger Project.  They had a five year commitment with a cost of $400,000. They took a family trip to Ghana to meet the people they would partner with.  The whole heart of the project is to empower the two villages to rise out of poverty through microloans and education.

They actually lived in the new home for two years before the old house sold. So when they needed to send the first $80,000 check,  they had some choices to make.  In the end,  the two teens,  Hannah and Joseph were willing to give up their college funds to pay that first installment.

I really enjoyed reading this book and learning their process.  It reminds me of Toxic Charity because they wanted to empower the people instead of just giving gifts and “turning them into beggars.”

They emphasize that selling your house isn’t for everyone,  but that every family can do something to serve others. It makes me think about how the Bible says that it isn’t really a sacrifice or an offering if it costs you nothing. They didn’t give away half of everything they owned.  They still went on vacations.  They just chose one thing to give away half.

I also liked when they wrote “sustained giving is more unifying than a one time event.” They could have chosen to give half of their clothes away and move on.  Instead,  they went on a family adventure that lasted several years and really helped this family to become closer than ever.

It’s good parenting to teach Clarissa that the world does not revolve around her.  That there are other people who are not as blessed as we are.  There are ways that our family can help,  even while she is very young.