There’s nothing like gathering your children together to watch a film that boosts their compassion and teaches them simple, spiritual lessons.  Try a gem of a tale like Children of Heaven, nominated for an Academy Award as best foreign film of 1997.  Set in Iran, it is a simple story of a boy who picks up his sister’s newly-repaired shoes, then misplaces them while running the rest of the family’s errands. Both of the children are anguished by the loss, as each has only one pair of shoes.  They dare not tell their parents, who are already behind in rent and struggling to keep food on the table.  And so they come up with a plan to share the brother’s shoes.  How they manage, and how eventually the brother finds a way to earn another pair of shoes paints a portrait of selfless love, steadfastness and grace. 

All the easier for children to absorb when the main characters are children and the problem is child-sized.  What young viewers could ever look inside their own closet – or at their own brothers and sisters – the same way again? 

Cross-cultural activities are really about more than supporting missionaries and helping those in need. As Samuel 16:7 says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  We benefit by understanding ourselves and teaching our children that in some important ways, we who look like we have everything are truly needy too.


Barbara Curtis has 12 children - including three adopted sons with Down syndrome - and 10 grandchildren so far. She is  also an award-winning author with nine books and 800+ articles in print publications including Focus on the Family, Guideposts, Christian Parenting Today, and The Washington Times.

Barbara is a popular speaker at MOPS and women's events, as well as writers' conferences.  Online you can find her at MommyLife and Mommy, Teach Me!.