This resource includes the information given below plus associated PowerPoint slides.
Aim of the activity:
To highlight how important Jesus is to people in countries where they are persecuted for their faith, and what a high cost there is to following him there. The activity is designed to encourage children to consider what they would be willing to give up for following him.
Explain that you are going to ask a series of ‘Would you rather?’ questions – you can encourage the adults to participate too if you want! Ask the question and then repeat the two options to give people opportunity to vote. People should raise their hands to show their preferred answer or use comments or reaction buttons if you’re meeting online.
Feel free to substitute the first set of would you rather questions for your own ideas if you like. We’ve included different levels of questions to try to accommodate all ages.
Would you rather?
– Go on holiday to the beach or to the mountains?
– Eat a biscuit or a chocolate bar?
– Have a pet dog or a pet cat?
– Give your favourite toy away, or give your favourite item of clothing away?
– Give up TV, or give up books?
– Give up music, or give up social media?
You don’t have to answer these ones but think about it in your head, if you HAD to choose would you rather…
– Lose your house, or lose your friends?
– Have to leave your school, or have to leave your town?
– Give up following Jesus, or give up your family?
– Give up following Jesus, or give up your freedom?
– Give up following Jesus, or give up your life?
In some parts of the world, including parts of North Africa, these are questions people have to answer for real. They have to ask themselves, “What am I willing to give up because I want to follow Jesus?” There are big consequences in some places for deciding to follow him. We are so fortunate to live in a country where we are allowed to follow Jesus, so we don’t have to make these decisions!
Emphasise this point as you feel appropriate/necessary for the children in your congregation – we don’t want anyone to go away frightened! Do consider the individuals in your church too and if there are any examples which may be particularly triggering for some then remove/replace e.g. adopted children may have experienced rejection by their families.
In some parts of North Africa, when a person decides to follow Jesus, their own family, their mum or dad, husband or wife or children, might reject them because they have become a Christian. They say they don’t want anything to do with them anymore. They might even try to hurt them or kill them! They will never see them again and are very ashamed of them.
But Christians know that Jesus is more precious even than their own family and reputation. These Christians have decided for real – I would rather give up my family and friends, my job and my home, than give up Jesus. I might even have to give up my freedom and go to jail for following him. Or give up my life – people will want to hurt me for this decision. But I am going to do it anyway, because following Jesus is worth the cost. Why do people believe that? Can it really be true that following Jesus is worth giving up EVERYTHING for?
There’s a story Jesus told in the Bible (Matthew 13) about a man who found treasure hidden in a field, and when he found the treasure – he hid it again and then went and sold everything he owned, so he could buy the field with the treasure in it. He knew that treasure was worth more than everything else he already owned, so he gave it all up!
Tell this story in more detail if that would be appropriate for the children you’re speaking to. You could use the “Treasure Hunt” chapter in the “Jesus Storybook Bible” by Sally Lloyd-Jones (p.250). There is an animated video version available online here (start at 0:45 to skip intro).
Christians in North Africa are willing to give up everything they have, even the most precious and important things they have, because they know that Jesus is even more precious. That’s because he’s made a way for them to be made right with God and have eternal life with him.
In places where people aren’t allowed to follow Jesus, it’s usually because their country has a different religion, one where people spend their whole lives trying really hard to make their God happy, but never knowing if they’ve done enough. That’s why Jesus is so precious to them, because he says “Look, I’ve done it all already – you don’t need to do anything except follow me, and you will have eternal life!” And for Christians in North Africa, that’s something worth giving up absolutely everything for.
It’s a challenge to us isn’t it – do we love Jesus that much? I wonder what you would be willing to give up for him? In this country you probably won’t be rejected by your family, or go to jail or risk being hurt because you trust in Jesus. But you might lose friends. It’s not always “cool” to be a Christian – but do you know what? It’s worth it! Jesus is the greatest friend you could ever have, he died on the cross for you to pay for your sins because he loves you so much. No friend you ever have on earth, could ever be as great a friend to you as Jesus.