So we wallpaper the children’s bathroom with thrifted maps from old National Geographics.
It only cost the price of the sticky tack, to mount the maps, and a bit of time, and if it all begins to fall down next week, it’s not the end of the world — well, at least not literally anyways.
A boy cracks a grin: “I think we should write on the maps in red pen: “You Are Right Here.” So no one gets lost when they wash their hands.”
I wink — and think of Gustavus.
How many years ago now did we first read of Gustavus ?
I had read aloud one morning, of King Gustavus’ standing in the great hall of the Diet in Stockholm, passionately addressing his government on May 20, 1630.
With the slaughter of brethren in the faith throughout Europe, Gustavus anguished for “our religious brethren who sigh for deliverance. With the help of God, they will not have sighed in vain.”
The words of Gustavus’ ardent plea had caught in my throat.
Nearly 400 years had passed since those words rang out; an ocean and near-light years away.
And yet —
Wasn’t there still a collective sigh escaping from our persecuted brothers and sisters around the globe… right now?
How much did I care?
About the countless cries of imprisoned men and women tortured for do what we do every day: talk to Jesus as Savior and Friend.
We turned the page of Gustavus’ story. The children and I read of Swedish troops waving farewell to hearth and home, to sail for mainland Europe, risking their lives so that brothers and sisters in the Lord might worship freely.
After five wave-tossed weeks at sea, Gustavus and company landed on the coast of Germany. Falling heavily down on the sandy beach, Gustavus led his weary army in prayer,
“My Lord and my God, You who rule the winds and the seas, I give You thanks from the depths of my heart. You know, O Lord, I haven’t come for my own glory, but to help Your oppressed church. Protect us and bring us victory in this sacred work.”
Standing, Gustavus observed tears in the eyes of his brave men.
He can’t see my own.
Hope, seated beside me, softly wishes, “Too bad we couldn’t go help the oppressed church like that, Mama.”
I read aloud Gustavus words, words for his men, but for Hope and I, sitting here:
“Weep not. Pray to God with all your heart. To pray often is almost to conquer.”
I whisper his words again, “To pray often is almost to conquer.”
I look at the children circling our table, Hope with intent eyes, Joshua and Levi pressed together, leaning close. We weren’t going to China. Or Sudan. Or Iran. Our family of eight would never, in all likelihood, step foot in Saudi Arabia where discussing the Bible would toss you in a barren jail cell for 4 years and include a sentence to lashing—750 stinging, biting strokes.
We wouldn’t be fellowshipping in the dark of a damp underground church, or defending sisters in Christ from a flurry of fists and sticks for singing hymns on Sunday morning.
But might we too go into all the world, freeing the oppressed?
The oppressed church need not sigh in vain: we could pray.
Often. Daily. Our prayers would be as going, as conquering, emancipating our persecuted brethren, releasing those held captive to the dark.
So that afternoon, we bowed heads, held hands, and prayed:
“Father, today be with Pastor Van Thong, imprisoned in Laos for attending meetings with Western Christians.
No one is allowed to visit him Lord and he is being held indefinitely. We cannot go to Laos and implore the government for Pastor Van Thong’s release.
But we can pray, Lord — for his comfort, his encouragement, and his glorifying You in all these things. And may Your Spirit and Your good and perfect will reign victorious, Father, in Laos…and all the world over.”
A little hand had squeezed mine, because there is always this: To pray is almost to conquer.
So we stick some maps to the wall and why not write it in red — we’re right here, spinning on a planet that’s lost without Him.
Us here… travelling the world on our knees.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
Steps to Go into all the World: Teaching Geography and Compassion
How in the world do we make Geography happen in our already full days? How do we teach geography and fulfill Christ’s Great Commission to go into all the world?
Going into all the world begins with one small step: 15 minutes at a time.
“Little drops of water, little grains of sand, makes the mighty ocean, and the beauteous land.” Going into all the world with geography need not be a burden. As the drops of water make the stretching seas and grains of sands make the vast deserts, so 15 minutes a day can have you fulfilling Christ’s commission to go into all the world!
Once you are committed to just one grain of 15 minute span of time each day, think: Teach with Emotion! Cognitive research indicates that humans remember best what enters the brain in an envelope of “emotion.”
If you want your learners to remember what they learn, wrap the knowledge up in feelings they can relate to. Instead of reading emotionless textbooks, read living books with language that dances. And your learners–and you–will remember long after the book is returned to its shelf! Simply put: we love, remember, and retain stories. Because we love Christ and His call to go love people, let’s go read the stories of God’s glorious globe and His people!
Groundwork Geography : Stage One Geography
· Globe : Plant a globe on the coffee table, right next to where you curl up on the couch to read. Any place name you encounter? Give that globe a spin and locate where in the world you are !
· Map : Affix a laminated world wall map to your study table or dining room table. Let the kids eat their morning oatmeal over the countries of Africa, read their library books while tracing the coast of Asia, coloring alongside the islands of the Pacific. A permanent table map is a simple, effective way to travel the world every day! (Print and assemble free wall maps )
· Atlas : Reading literature? Studying history? Browsing the newspaper? Carry an atlas and get into the “look it up habit.” Why bother? Because when you get into the look it up habit, you discover the most interesting detours—unexpected, natural learning!
Going Geography : Stage Two Geography (the heart of your geography studies)
Table Travel: Have dinner around the world! Set beside the dinner table a basket of geographical reading materials, such as A Child’s Geography or mission magazines. Explore other cultures, other peoples, other lands with A Child’s Geography : Charlotte Mason-style geography with a Missional Mindset!
· Knee Travel…. with Operation World or with the book version: Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation. Choose a country from which you explored, or in its vicinity, and you and your children pray for that country: for to pray is almost to conquer.Be a Gustavus Prayer Warrior. Select only two or three concerns for which to pray and then revisit the country again over that week, praying for subsequent matters. (Free Online Version of Operation World available ).
· Quiz Travel…with Seterra. Download the free geography software Seterra. With outstanding content and a straightforward interface, Seterra is a compelling geography-quiz program that tests knowledge of world cities, capital cities, countries, geographical features, and flags. The high-score tables provide a subtle but effective learning incentive. Highly recommended hours of entertaining education. (Free download available )
Total time: 15-20 minutes. Worth of investment: eternal.
Grandiose Geography : Stage Three Geography
(when you’ve already laid down groundwork geography (stage one) and are journeying everyday with going geography (stage two)!)
Everywhere Geography It’s a global world. Geography is everywhere: see it in the newspaper, weather forecasts, missionary work, and everything you purchase. Going into the world begins with acknowledging and seeing the world all around us! Print off a map from online and walk through the produce department. Note what fruits or vegetables come from where on God’s planet. Go through your closets and drawers and see where the products you live with were made. Read the newspaper with an outline map and see where in the world what’s making news
· Entertainment Geography Play online geography games and test global I.Q. (Recommended free online games: GeoSpy, Seterra, GeoNet, The Geography Challenge). Piece together global maps . (The Global Puzzle is a 600-piece puzzle with pieces actually shaped like the countries of the world. ) Have international foods night and cook a dish from another part of the world. Listen to music samplings from that part of the globe. Ask children to find that particular country on the map, and close your meal with a prayer for that particular country. Read living books from all over the world. ( Find a stellar geography book list here )
· Extracurricular Geography Take the 10 daily quiz questions for the National Geographic Bee. Go to Real Places all around the world in Real time! Take a World Tour with your homeschooling group ! Check out Postcard Geography!