When my son was born, I found myself rocking him to sleep, singing a worship song in Spanish that my dad had sung to me. “¿Con qué pagaremos amor tan inmenso? Que diste tu vida por el pecador.”
I hadn’t heard the song in years, but the words and the melody returned to me quickly.
My dad speaks Spanish, having lived in Mexico in his early 20s.
Throughout my childhood, he read and sang to me in Spanish and referred to me as his “hija.”
He taught my sister and me the importance of learning about and respecting other cultures.
I remember my dad visiting my Spanish class in elementary school and singing songs in Spanish on his guitar.
He was there when I took my first international mission trip to the Dominican Republic, which led me to live and teach English there the following two summers.
He visited me when I studied abroad in Chile and then again in Bolivia when I worked for an international nonprofit.
All this to say, I’m so grateful to have had his influence on my life – the way he lived out his love for other cultures and, in doing so, instilled that value in me.
As a first-time mom, I am determined to instill that same appreciation in my son.
I believe nurturing a love for other cultures is one of the best gifts we can give our children.
As we seek to raise our kids with biblical values, an appreciation of and respect for people who are different from us is one we can often overlook. Yet it is essential for the spread of the gospel and the unity of the church.Nurturing a love for other cultures is one of the best gifts we can give our children.
3 Diversity Truths Christian Parents Need to Know
Scripture commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and we can teach our children to do so by sharing three essential truths with them when it comes to celebrating diversity:
1. God loves diversity.
“For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12 HCSB
God created a world full of diversity, and the body of Christ is no different.
Teaching our children about the body of Christ is one way to remind them and ourselves that each part, while different, is intrinsically important.
God intended it to be that way.
Celebrating diversity within the body of Christ with our children will not only help them appreciate the unique roles that others play, but seek to discover their own purpose within the body of Christ as well.Celebrating diversity within the body of Christ with our children helps them discover their purpose and appreciate others.
2. Appreciation of diversity lends itself to unity.
“…diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:3–6 HCSB
This idea of oneness, unity, and togetherness may feel foreign and unattainable in today’s divisive world. But the church is the perfect place to practice unity.
Despite our differences, we are united by the one thing that matters most – Jesus Christ. Raising up a generation that values diversity and respects others will foster true unity not only within the church but outside of it as well.The church is the perfect place to practice unity.
3. Our unity sets us apart from the rest of the world.
“By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35 HCSB
It’s no secret unity is hard to come by. That’s why we as Christians have the incredible opportunity to set ourselves apart and set an example of unity and love for the rest of the world.
We need more families willing to demonstrate a deep love for others, regardless of what they look like, who they voted for, or what language they speak.
By teaching our children the importance of peace, love, and unity and walking it out in our church community, they’ll be able to carry the charge in their schools, neighborhoods, clubs, and anywhere they go.We need more Christian families willing to demonstrate a deep love for others.
3 Practical Ways to Teach Your Children to Appreciate Diversity
While this all may sound great in theory, it takes intention and effort to put it into practice. Here are a few practical ways to get started with your family today:
1. Explore diverse resources.
Today, we are blessed to literally have the world at our fingertips through our smartphones.
Don’t underestimate the power of a quick Google search for bilingual books, TV shows, and music for kids.
The Jesus Storybook Bible in English and Spanish is one of my favorite resources I read daily to my son.
Children are sponges, and exposing them to other languages and cultures at a young age will benefit them as they grow.
2. Seek out a diverse community.
Whether it’s the daycare or school you send your child to, the church you attend, or the neighborhood you live in, living life in diverse settings is one of the best ways to nurture a respect for other cultures.
It’s much easier to value and appreciate something when it surrounds you.
This can even extend to whom you choose to follow on social media.
By following diverse people, you’re exposing yourself to a diversity of thoughts, opinions, lifestyles, etc. that you can then pass along to your children.
If we want our children to appreciate diversity, we must also appreciate it.If we want our children to appreciate diversity, we must appreciate it ourselves as well.
3. Engage in conversation with your children.
Don’t shy away from tough conversations or hard questions about diversity and race.
It’s a beautiful thing for children to be curious about, and every innocent question is a learning opportunity for them, and often for us as well.
Ask them questions when they learn about the Civil Rights Movement in school.
When they see something on the news about refugees, pray with them. When they ask why someone in their class looks different from them, talk to them.
Having these conversations isn’t always easy, but it’s always worthwhile.
Ultimately, instilling an appreciation for other cultures in our children is an opportunity to live out the gospel. Diversity is a reflection of what heaven will be like.
Revelation 7:9-10 HCSB paints a beautiful picture of this: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”
May we let this vision of heaven motivate us to encourage our children to love others the way Christ does and to appreciate the wonderful diversity of His creation and His children.
As we pursue diversity, we’ll bring a little bit more of heaven to earth.
– Hannah Jessen Conway
Hannah Jessen Conway is a writer who intentionally pursues themes of faith and culture, women’s empowerment, and social justice in her writing. From 9 to 5, she works in communications and marketing, telling the stories of local nonprofits and churches in the Raleigh area. She’s a wife to her college sweetheart, boy mom of one, rescue dog owner, and Jesus follower. Read more of Hannah’s writing on her website or connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.