Monthly Archives: April 2014

Samuel Zwemer: Activities

Samuel Zwemer Activities

Look at these fun activities we got in Sunday School this morning all about the life of Samuel Zwemer! They were so much fun that I brought home a copy to share with you. There is a fill-in and a map puzzle. Our teacher said with a little bit of detective work, we could solve all the puzzles, even if we hadn’t read the story of Samuel Zwemer. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Activities from the missionary story of Samuel Zwemer

Samuel Zwemer Missionary Story and Activities

In case you missed them, here are the other three days we learned about Samuel Zwemer and his work in Arabia.

Samuel Zwemer: The Adventure Begins

Samuel Zwemer: Traveling Without a GPS

Samuel Zwemer: Why Did It Happen?

Samuel Zwemer: Why Did It Happen? (Part Three)

Samuel Zwemer Why Did It Happen

Samuel Zwemer did what God called him to do, but that didn’t mean everything went smoothly. That’s the part of Sam’s story our Sunday School teacher shared today, and that’s the part that confuses me the most. Sam knew God wanted him to go to Arabia and be a missionary. But after he got there, he got terribly sick with malaria. Once the ship he was on got caught in a dangerous storm. Some of the places he rented rooms to live in kicked him out. Some of his friends even got sick and died. It’s hard to understand why.

When I was reading my Bible today, I found a verse. I know I’ve read it lots of times before, but I thought of something new this time when I read it. It’s in Matthew, chapter three, when Jesus is baptized. God says from Heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17 KJV). God the Father couldn’t have been more pleased or happier with anyone than He was with His Son. Jesus always did what was right and never sinned. But bad things still happened. His cousin, John the Baptist, was killed by an evil king. And when Jesus came to the end of His time here on earth, he was beaten and killed like a criminal, even though He hadn’t done anything wrong.

So why did those things happen? I don’t know why bad things happened to Sam Zwemer or John the Baptist, but I know why Jesus let those things happen to Him. God had a plan, a plan to save the entire world, and Jesus knew He was the only One who could do it. He knew death couldn’t hold Him. He knew that once He died and paid the price for sin that He would come back to life and bring life to everyone who believes in Him and asks Him to forgive them. It’s the story of Easter, and it’s the most important story ever told, because it’s true.

God had a plan to turn all the awful things that happened to Jesus into good and amazing things. I’m going to ask Him to help me trust Him that He will bring good out of all the bad things that happen, no matter how terrible they seem.

“Dear God, thank You that You are so much smarter than we are. You can see the whole story of our lives, when we see only a tiny part. Thank You for loving us and for saving everyone who trusts in You because of what Jesus suffered. Help me trust You even when bad things happen, and help me remember that You can bring good out of every bad thing, just like You did on the first Easter. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

Here is a printable version of today’s missionary story about Samuel Zwemer.

Samuel Zwemer: Traveling Without GPS (Part Two)

Samuel Zwemer Traveling Without GPS (Part Two)

What would it be like to take a trip when you didn’t know where you were going and you didn’t have a map to follow to get there? When your family goes on an adventure, do you take a map? Maybe you use a GPS system to find your way. You do know where you are headed, though, right?

Samuel Zwemer, the missionary to Arabia our Sunday School teacher told us about last week, didn’t always know where he was going. When he was growing up, he lived in Michigan and Wisconsin. Then he traveled through Illinois and Ohio with his family on their way to New York. Later, he moved back to Michigan (but not to the same place he’d been born). He finished college while he was in Michigan and had a decision to make. He knew God wanted him to become a missionary, but he didn’t know where to go to seminary to learn to be a pastor. He prayed a lot and visited his father and some of his family. Finally, he decided he would go to seminary in New Jersey.

Off he went traveling again. He loved seminary in New Jersey and worked in New York City, Virginia, and other states while he was training to be a pastor. He prayed a lot about where God wanted him to go as a missionary. He finally decided that the land of Arabia was where God was sending him.

After he graduated seminary and became a pastor, he took a trip that would get him closer to his goal of reaching Arabia. His father and one of his brothers were going to travel to his father’s homeland in the Netherlands. Sam decided to join them and together, they sailed to England. They took a train to Edinburgh, Scotland, to meet with some people Sam needed to talk to about the mission work. Then it was on to the Netherlands.

Sam enjoyed getting to see the country his father had come from, but he knew he couldn’t stay there. God had called him to go to Arabia. He needed to meet one of his college friends who would be an important missionary partner. His friend had graduated from seminary a year earlier than Sam and had gone ahead to Beirut, Lebanon, to continue studying to be a missionary. So from the Netherlands, he sailed up the Rhine River to a city in Germany where he caught a train to go to Italy. From Italy he sailed to Lebanon.

In Beirut, he met with his missionary partner from college and prayed about where in Arabia to go. They visited cities in Egypt and continued to learn as much as they could that would help them be missionaries. At last, Sam knew where in Arabia God was sending him—Aden. It was a long journey through the Red Sea from Egypt to Aden, but Sam was excited and eager to go. The ship made many stops along the way, and Sam got to see the town of Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia; a port in Sudan; the new Italian colony of Eritrea; and finally, he landed in Aden.

He was twenty-three years old when he arrived in Aden, and he still didn’t know where exactly God would send him or what He would have him do. He didn’t have a map of his life in front of him, and he didn’t have a GPS to tell him if he took a wrong turn. But he knew God knew where he was going. He prayed and trusted God. He moved in the direction God led him, like Abraham heading to the Promised Land. God had told Abraham, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1 NIV).

Along the way, God led Sam to friends and coworkers who helped him find the next step. And God showed him that he was on the right road. I can’t wait to find out where Sam goes next!

“Dear God, sometimes adventures are fun; sometimes they can be scary. Please help us trust You to take care of us and show us where we need to be. Help us to pray and pay attention so we don’t take wrong turns. When we make mistakes, and don’t know where we are, help us to remember that You never lose sight of us even for a second. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”



Here is a printable version of today’s missionary story about Samuel Zwemer.

Samuel Zwemer: The Adventure Begins (Part One)

Samuel Zwemer The Adventure Begins

This morning in Sunday School, our teacher told us it was time to leave India and learn more about another part of the world. Today, we started learning about a boy named Samuel Zwemer, who was a missionary to the land of Arabia when he grew up. But the story didn’t start in Arabia. It started in Holland, where Sam’s parents were from.

Sam’s parents had taken the long and scary journey from Holland across the Atlantic Ocean when his mom and dad were engaged to be married. It was a dangerous trip, but God kept them safe and brought them to a new home in a new land. They lived New York, then later in Michigan, where Sam was born. The first home he remembered was his home in Wisconsin, where he lived until he was six years old.

I think Sam and I would have been friends if we’d gone to school together (which of course we couldn’t because he was born in 1867). Sam loved adventure, just like I do. He loved going to new places and meeting new people. He loved to imagine what might happen and dream about the things God might call him to do.

Our teacher only told us part of Sam’s story this morning. She said she’ll tell us more about him next week. So far, the thing I like the most about Sam is the way he knew God always had a plan. Some of the surprises that happened in his life were fun—like when he was six years old and he and his family got on a train in Wisconsin and moved all the way to Albany, New York. Some weren’t as much fun—like the months spent working with a threshing crew who threshed grain on farm after farm, all through the long, hot summer. Some were sad, like when his mother died when he was nineteen.

But Sam knew that God was always in control, even when things were scary or hard or sad. He remembered what Jesus said in Luke 12. Jesus said God doesn’t forget about a single bird, He won’t forget about us. We’re worth more than lots of birds! God even knows how many hairs we have on our heads. If He cares about such a tiny detail, won’t He also care about the big and important things that happen in our lives?  I’m going to pray and ask God to help me remember not to worry because He cares about everything that is happening in my life.

“Dear God, thank You for caring about me so much that You even know how many hairs are on my head right now. Help me trust You to make things always work out, whether things are fun like taking an adventure, or tough like a hard job, or even sad. Help me tell other people about Your love for them. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

Here is a printable version of today’s missionary story about Samuel Zwemer.