My husband got a very worried expression on his face. “What is that little girl going to do with that hammer and giant nail in our house?”

“I don’t know,” I said with great concern. “What would Martin Luther be doing with a hammer near our front door?”

The little girl in the robes of a sixteenth-century monk wasn’t the only oddity roaming around my house that day. Another young man had on an aviator’s jacket and goggles. Yet another child wore a massive ragged-looking fur coat and carried a bundle of mysterious possessions. What was going on here?

Turns out, it was the presentation portion of our “Heroes of the Faith Day,” a day set aside to learn about and celebrate some of the amazing people who had gone before us in our faith community. Many of the kids in my acquaintance (my own included) knew far more about the Founding Fathers of the country than they did the founding fathers (and mothers) of the faith. They even carried the sad and mistaken belief that missionaries and well-known people of Christian history had led boring lives. That, of course, couldn’t have been further from the truth, but these kids had heard of missionaries only in hushed and reverent tones, if at all.

This had to change. So I created an event that would provide a bunch of fun and kid-friendly activities that would teach about the adventure in the lives of these amazing people. Here’s how to host one of your own.

The Presentation Activity

Get a couple of families to agree to participate in the event. Then you’ll have many children for the dramatic presentations portion, which is when students give short in-character presentations of a hero of choice. Weeks before, the students select someone to read about—Charles Wesley, Gladys Aylward, Peter the Apostle, George Muller, Perpetua, Nate Saint . . . there are tons of options. Then the students read about their hero, write a 2- to 3-minute presentation, and when they present it, they do it in costume. In other words, if your student chooses Mary Slessor, she speaks as Mary Slessor.

At your event, Nate Saint might talk about going into the dense jungle to check on tribes that were famous for killing anyone who wasn’t known to them. Gladys Aylward might tell about the time she—a tiny woman, alone, had to walk into a rioting prison in China to take charge and restore order. Bruchko may tell of the time he helped a medicine woman “cure” pink eye to develop a relationship that eventually allowed him to share the gospel. Your student will have no problem finding fascinating and adventurous details to share.

Underground Chinese Church

To give students a sense of the difficulty of worshiping in countries where the Church is oppressed, create a mini-underground service. This requires letting kids know of a meeting place and a specific time. Instruct them to arrive in ones and twos, scattered out randomly over the course of a prearranged period of time. After all, if a group of people arrives as a unit, the neighbors know something’s going on and you risk being reported. (How different from our experiences in the USA, where we roll in, 500 cars at a time, in a massive, easily observable parking lot.)

In our underground church, students were instructed to be very quiet as they entered, again, lest the neighbors hear. Dark curtains hung over the windows to soften the sounds and limit prying eyes. Hymns were sung, but almost in a whisper. The risk of being found with Bibles was too great; no one dared carry one. So some scraps of paper with copied verses were smuggled in and hidden till they could be safely retrieved and read. We made every effort to make the risks taken by people all over the world seem real and palpable, attempting to do in secret what these kids themselves do openly and freely each Sunday. When we were done, we prayed together for those who worshiped in just such dangerous and restrictive churches today.