Okay, let me preface this by saying that I'm not qualified to answer. I haven't done ECC (but I'm itching to). I don't know the content of what's offered in the read-alouds.
What I wanted to say is that I do believe that there is a real place in sharing missionary stories, even for very young children. I have always wanted Gail to know that serving Christ is about much more than just what we usually
see here in America. So we've always read missionary stories, starting with Paul.
We help support three Gospel For Asia national missionaries who face persecution and trials daily, and she knows what they face and prays for them. We share some stories and pictures when appropriate from publications like Voice of the Martyrs, so she will know that not all Christians have it as easy as we do here. She is filled with love and compassion for these people she has never even seen and will not meet in this life, and it helps her see the full picture that we see in the Bible... not everyone loves Jesus. Some even hate Him and hate His followers. But Jesus died for those people, too, and we should pray for them.
I suppose that what we hope is that when she does (we pray) come to Christ, she will come knowing the good (peace, forgiveness, eternal life, a better way to live, etc) as well as the not-so-good (possibility of persecution, being pointed out as different, being asked by God to do the hard things).
I remember a young boy in our AWANA Sparks class, just turned seven years old. He had just recently accepted Christ and was toying around with the idea of becoming a missionary when he grew up, just because he loved Jesus that much. Our Sparks leader was doing a devotional about forgiveness, and she told the story of Nate Saint. I watched this boy's sweet face as he heard the story... it affected him deeply. He asked hard questions... why didn't God protect Nate? Why did the people not believe at first? Why... why... why? But afterward, this young boy came forward to the leader and told her how much he appreciated hearing about Nate, and how now he wanted to be a missionary more than ever. She was a little surprised at this and asked, "But why, after just hearing about how this man was killed?" His answer floored us:
"If people don't see that we care about Jesus that much... enough to die, even.... then why would they want to hear about Him and be saved? If Nate had gone to these people and told them about Jesus and then left safe and happy, would they have ever become Christians? Probably not, just like most people here in America aren't really Christians. And would we be talking about Nate today and learning about him? Probably not."
The leader interjected: "Yes, you're right."
The boy continued:
"It would be like people today who might go to church and talk about God sometimes, but their friends don't care because they don't see anything different about them. But the people in the story about Nate, those people who were so mean and cruel, they saw that Nate was willing to die for Jesus, so they realized how important Jesus must be. And then they saw how Nate's family would even forgive them after that awful thing they did, and that is why they believed. And that's what I want to do, to be willing to even die for Jesus so others will see that He is the most important thing ever, more important than our life or even our family."
That's what I want Gail to learn, too... that "Jesus is the most important thing ever"... and that lesson can be learned by hearing some of the missionary stories. I'm not saying that I don't edit some things when I read to Gail... I do sometimes leave out graphic or gory details. For example, "they killed him" is fine with me in place of, "they slowly burned him alive." I just want to make sure she knows that the person was willing to die for Jesus, as He was willing to die for us.
I know that every family will have different feelings about this... and I don't mean to offend at all. But I just wanted to say that I believe missionary stories have a place, even from a very early age. They are one of the main reasons I am so much looking forward to ECC!!!!! I even showed the catalog page to my husband and said excitedly, "Look, missionary stories and global prayer and evangelism focus! For THIRD GRADE! This looks great!!!"
... a forgiven child of God since 1994 (age 16)
... happily wed to William since 1996
... mother of our long-awaited Gail (3/15/2006)
... missing 6 little ones (4 miscarriages, 2 ectopics)
... starting Rome to the Reformation this fall!