Preschoolers in a Dallas church opened their Christmas program with greetings in seven languages. In San Diego, Spanish, Sudanese, and Cambodian pastors are regular visitors in children’s Bible classes. These young global Christians are learning to look on the heart rather than outward appearances. (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)
Children are not born with prejudices. Preschoolers may notice physical, family, and religious differences, but they naturally accept them. It’s often in elementary school that children come into contact with negative attitudes toward those who are different from themselves. When children witness hurtful prejudice, teachers can help them respond with accurate information, acceptance, and love.
Jesus Saw People Not Labels
Children pick up on harmful stereotypes in books, media, and from friends. People with poor self-images can make putting others down seem like harmless fun. Sometimes children don’t know the meaning of ugly words they hear attached to groups of people.
In Jesus’ day, the Jews saw the Samaritans as a mixed-race to avoid, but Jesus saw the Samaritan in John 4 as a child of God. Jesus’ kindness and the woman’s faith caused many Samaritans to believe He was the Messiah.
Class Discussion: Name-calling is unfair and hurtful. God is the one who created different kinds of people, and He loves them equally. When you’re upset with someone, what can you do to let them know how you feel without name-calling?”
There are children all around us who frequently get left out because of race, gender, ability, or economic status. These biases don’t belong in the family of God. When children shy away from a child who is different, ask how they would feel in that child’s place. Explain the difference between prejudice and dislike.
Class Discussion: Prejudice means you have opinions about others without really knowing them. Dislike is based on an experience with a specific individual. When you get to know a person, you may like them. You may not believe the same thing, but you can show them respect.
Prejudice is dangerous because it comes from pride instead of love. Jesus gave us the answer: “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble.” (Romans 12:16 CSB) Help children identify pride as a sin.
Michelle knows what it’s like to be stared at in the mall. While she has blond, curly hair and blue eyes, her dad wears a turban and a dark, heavy beard. “Mom homeschools my brother and me, because my parents are afraid we’ll get picked on at school,” Michelle said. “But at church, we are thankful for different cultures and know that we’re all special to God.”
The Christian community is not yet free from the evil of prejudice, but it is possible—one child at a time.
CREATE A CULTURALLY SENSITIVE CLASSROOM
• Teach children Genesis 1:27.
• Use multicultural visuals.
• Provide books about children from other cultures.
• Talk to children about prejudice.
• Present Christian heroes from a variety of backgrounds.
• Pray for the world with your children.
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