New book and curriculum open the doors
to talking to children about missions and orphans
As we start planning the summer for our children—signing them up for t-ball, summer drama camp, trips to see grandparents, vacation Bible school—we often forget how fortunate we are to be able to offer such opportunities to our children, especially when many children around the world don’t get to participate in activities like these. In her new book Tales of the Defended Ones (Standard Publishing / January 28, 2013 / ISBN: 978-0784736975 / $ 8.99), Beth Guckenberger skillfully and lovingly tells the stories of adopted children from Ethiopia, a child in slavery in Cambodia, a special-needs orphan from Mexico, and a foster child in the U.S. all with one thing in common. They are all real children whose lives of heartbreak and abandon became stories of hope. Not only has God provided for these children, Guckenberger shares how we, too, young and old, can help defend these children who are defenseless on their own.
Tales of the Defended Ones is the second release of Guckenberger’s Storyweaver series, written to highlight the plight of orphans throughout the world in personal, heart-grabbing stories of loss, struggle and redemption. The premise of the series is that as the great Storyweaver, God is working in the lives of each of us and our stories can be more incredible than we could ever imagine. “It’s important that we not only care about our own stories, but also about the stories of others,” writes Guckenberger. “Orphans don’t have a lot of people watching their stories. It’s our privilege to watch them and then tell about them, and sometimes even be a part of them. That is a bit of the God-design he put in us, to care for others. He cares about each of us and wants to bring us into each other’s lives.”
Written for ages 8 and up, Tales of the Defended Ones presents an easy-to-read picture of the way God is intervening on behalf of orphans throughout the world. The inspiration for the title of the book came from Proverbs 23:10-11: “Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you.”
Like its predecessor, Tales of the Not Forgotten, which has helped teachers, mentors and families have meaningful conversations about clean water, orphan care, education and hunger, a corresponding six-part Tales of the Defended Ones Leader’s Guide on CD (ISBN 978-0784736982) is also available. The leader’s guide helps turn the book content into a simple, yet powerful six-week curriculum for any church or small group, complete with fun activities, compelling stories, biblical teaching and practical applications that can be customized based on time and setting.
The book and leader’s guide are driven by the personal mission experience of Beth and her husband, Todd Guckenberger, who serve as co-executive directors of Back2Back Ministries and are raising nine children—biological, foster and adopted. Beth was recently honored with the 2013 International Network of Children’s Ministry (INCM) Legacy Award at the Children’s Pastors’ Conference in Orlando, Florida, for her impact on children around the world.
“Beth’s heart for the orphan is passionate and contagious,” says Stephanie Woeste, vice president of marketing for Standard Publishing. “With her ability to communicate the reality of life as an orphan, God is using her to get people involved in one of the most important tasks He gave the church: to care for widows and orphans.”
Guckenberger has partnered with Standard Publishing on the mission content in its 2013 VBS program, God’s Backyard Bible Camp, as well as a Mission Project Pack. The goal of the VBS curriculum is to show children they can make an impact on the world and be a part of something larger than themselves. Through God’s Backyard Bible Camp, students can engage in interactive service opportunities that reach far beyond their own backyards, benefiting the orphans Back2Back ministries serves in Mexico. The Mission Project Pack includes everything you need to get your kids involved in serving others. Kids taking part in the program will not only help individual orphans but will join a movement of VBS kids that are committed to service. In the fall, Standard will be releasing a SuperSimple™ Mission Kit which will include all of the mission resources developed for God’s Backyard Bible Camp, as well as the Tales of the Not Forgotten book and leader’s guide. The SuperSimple™ Mission Kit will provide churches with the tools they need to emphasize missions anytime during the year.
What better way to spend this summer than helping children in our own backyard and around the world? For more information on how to get involved, visit www.vacationbibleschool.com or back2back.org.
Join Beth Guckenberger for her Facebook chat with readers on April 25 at 8:00 PM EDT. Watch the Standard Publishing Facebook page for more details about the party and a social media giveaway opportunity.
Beth Guckenberger and her husband, Todd, are the founders of Back2Back Ministries (based in Cincinnati, Ohio), which communicates a lifestyle of service by sharing the love of Christ and serving God through service to others. Back2Back Ministries connects willing workers to open hearts through international and local ministry opportunities. Their ministry is currently caring and providing for orphan children and needy people in Mexico, Nigeria, India and, most recently, Haiti.
Guckenberger travels and speaks regularly at women’s and missions conferences, as well as youth gatherings and church services. Her topics include orphan care, missions, parenting, marriage/intimacy and faith. Her storytelling style captures audiences, and she draws from her field experience as a missionary and parent for illustrations to biblical concepts.
In addition to her children’s releases in the Storyweaver series, Tales of the Defended Ones (Standard Publishing 2013), and Tales of the Not Forgotten (Standard 2012), Guckenberger has written two books for adults: Relentless Hope (Standard, 2011) and Reckless Faith(Zondervan, 2008). She has also partnered with Standard Publishing on the mission content in its 2013 VBS program God’s Backyard Bible Camp and a missions kit to be released in the fall.
The Guckenberger family lives and serves in Monterrey, Mexico, where they have hosted more than 12,000 guests on their ministry campus. Between biological, foster and adopted additions to their family, Beth and Todd are raising nine children.