Child activism may seem like a misnomer, but some kids are hardwired to be activists. Let’s guide their justice-minded hearts toward helping others!
“I’ll call it Creative Kids For Compassion,” he stated at the dinner table.
“Huh?” I had no idea what he was talking about. As usual. This child has a prolific inner life and his brain is usually on overdrive.
“My new organization! We can sell our stories and raise money for kids who don’t have clean water.”
Well, melt my heart and call me a puddle.
That night, he sat down to finish writing a story, which he then proceeded to illustrate and type. His 6 year old brother was inspired to write his own story, and Creative Kids For Compassion was born.
Over the next several months, the boys sold their books both online and in person.
Twice they stood outside for hours on a freezing autumn day to sell their books and homemade trinkets at the farmer’s market, all so they could help provide clean water to those in extreme poverty.
What an activist child looks like:
My son an example of a child whose heart beats for justice. Most activists won’t need to be told to stand up for a cause. You will more likely need to hold her back to help her find balance once she’s recognized God’s heartbeat.
- An activist child has a strong sense of justice and gets frustrated when she (or others) are wronged.
- This child is ready to fight for what he thinks is right, and
- he isn’t afraid to stand alone in an argument.
Activism in the Bible:
We see a lot of activist adults in the Bible:
- Josiah, the youngest king of Israel, instituted HUGE, country-wide reforms as a teenager.
- Shiphrah and Puah were midwives who very creatively kept the Israelite baby boys alive when the Pharaoh ordered the babies killed at birth.
- John the Baptist called out the systemic issues in Israel and prepared the way for Jesus.
- Jesus honored God as an activist when he emptied the temple of corrupt money changers and sellers preying on the innocent and poor.
In Micah 6:8, God’s followers are given a direct command by God himself:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.NIV
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Clearly, standing up for the poor, vulnerable, and oppressed is a HUGE passion of God’s.
I should mention that environmental activism is a HUGE part of caring for the poor, vulnerable, and oppressed, because the people MOST affected by climate change are the poor and vulnerable. More on that in this article on why Christians need to care about the environment.
Empowering your child activist:
Children can be incredibly compassionate and justice-minded. We just need to release them to do what God is calling them to do!
However, it won’t happen in a vacuum. I have a justice-minded boy, but I shudder to think of what he’d be like if he didn’t know that there were people in the world who needed help. If we didn’t expose him to that, he might be tempted to use his sense of justice for selfish gain – to gain himself more rights.
Sometimes directing their sense of justice in healthy ways means teaching them about issues you find important.
A few years ago, the Western world was reeling from the implications of the Syrian refugee crisis. I saw so many posts on social media from people wondering what they can do, but no posts wondering what their children could do.
Connecting with God through Activism:
On Friday night, we were doing our devotion on the life of Elisha, and discussing how God had used him to help the widow. We discussed how God sometimes wants to use us to help others in need as well. I took this opportunity to share with my boys a little bit about the refugee crisis.
I told them that there are some countries in the world where there are lot of bad people. They are trying to hurt people and take their homes. These people want so badly to escape the bad guys that they run away from their homes. They don’t bring anything with them – no clothes, no food, no money, no cars. They walk and walk and walk until they reach a place that is safer. But it is very hard for them to find a place that is safe.
What we did:
We would count and sort all our cans and bottles then bring them to the bottle depot. After we got our money we would use it to buy gift cards from Superstore. Our church already works with refugees and there is a family coming from Burma very soon, so the gift cards would go to them. After an initial hesitation (because they remembered the stench and noise of the bottle depot!) they agreed wholeheartedly.
I was so proud of them – they didn’t complain about not getting to keep any of the money, and they were so excited to pass their bills over to the cashier in exchange for the gift cards.
They may not know much about the horror of being a refugee, but they do know that they can do something to help.
My prayer is that they will remember this experience and refuse to be paralyzed into inaction when needs arise. I hope they will take these hard things to God in prayer, and listen to God for ideas on how to combat the injustices in the world.
Child activism projects
We have since sorted and returned the recycling again when there were nearly 100,000 people evacuated from a city north of us during a wildfire. That time we donated the money to the Canadian Red Cross.
There are a LOT of ways for children to get involved in bringing God’s justice to the world. Here are some suggestions to get you started!
1. Fundraising projects:
This is limited only by your imagination! There are SO many organizations doing phenomenal justice work in the world, and kids can raise money in a variety of ways.
- Do yardwork in the neighborhood
- Start a GoFundMe campaign
- Create homemade products to sell at a Farmer’s Market
- Ask for direct donations
- Sell special items to friends
- Collect bottles and bring them in for refund
Some organizations you might consider raising funds for:
- The Preemptive Love Coalition
- Voice of the Martyrs
- Compassion International
- Internation Justice Mission
- Amnesty International
- The Water Project
2. Direct activism projects
- Make informational posters about a human justice issue and post them in your school or church.
- Invite a local non-profit working for justice into your church and have an information/fundraising night. (Yes, kids can help with this!!)
- Take a video of your kids talking about an important topic and post it online.
- Organize a community/beach/park/pond cleanup.
- Organize a student strike for climate.
3. Letter-writing campaigns and petitions
Organizations like Amnesty International and Voice of the Martyrs depend heavily on petitions and letter-writing. Kids can definitely get involved in these!
I will leave you with one final picture that makes my heart beat faster:
The picture is of the earth surrounded by space (and an astronaut!), drawn by my 6 year old. I am so proud of my children for slowly developing the heart of a God-following activist..
Other Sacred Pathways for Kids
An overview of the Sacred Pathways
- The Traditionalist Pathway
- A longer article: How to help your child grow spiritually
- A shorter article and video: One practical tip for teaching children about Jesus
- The Sensate Pathway
- A longer article: God gave us 5 senses: Here’s how our kids can use them to worship God
- A shorter article and video: Helping our kids engage God with all 5 senses
- The Naturalist Pathway
- A shorter article and video: Seeing God Through Nature
- The Intellectual Pathway
- This longer article on 5 ways to help an intellectual child grow in faith
- A shorter article and video: How to help your intellectual child with God through this one simple question
- The Activist Pathway
- This shorter article (with video) on how to help the world as a child
- This longer article: A Christian parents’ guide to encouraging child activism
Dorina Lazo Gilmore says
I love this post, Christie! My girls were similarly touched and inspired to help in some way. They made and sold Italian cookies at Christmas time raising $440 for the Syrian refugee crisis. It was amazing to see how their compassion catalyze others!
Oh wow, I love it! I hope to encourage my kids more in this…amongst all the other things in life we do, this is so important!