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A child in North Korea explains to her teacher that she did well on a test "by God's grace." Later, she arrives home to find her parents have disappeared.

Such stories in a new Vacation Bible School curriculum from persecution ministry Voice of the Martyrs have some children's spirituality experts questioning whether it encourages children's faith or burdens them with inappropriate information.

Launched last year, the ministry's Kids of Courage curriculum "came about as a result of churches' desire and [our] desire to tell the story of persecuted Christians in an age-appropriate way," said media director Todd Nettleton.

Church for the Harvest in Alexandria, two hours northwest of Minneapolis, used the curriculum last summer. Children's director Katy Kiger is a former missionary to South Africa and liked that Kids of Courage includes stories from China, Egypt, India, Nigeria, and North Korea.

For example, stories from Nigeria talk about Muslims converting to Christianity as well as terrorists attacking churches.

Many of the children in Kiger's program attend public schools where they face a milder form of antagonism. Still, she said, "It was awesome to hear how kids talk about their own struggles."

"The kids here need to know what is up in the world today," said Jalil Dawood, pastor of the Arab Church of Dallas, whose members and their families have faced death and severe persecution in their home countries. His church hasn't used the program, but Dawood says it is important for American children to learn about the challenges of being a Christian in other parts of the world.

It is important for children to confront difficult or challenging topics, says Scottie May, professor of Christian spirituality at Wheaton College and co-author ...

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March 2012

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