Missionary Stories for Kids are written for preschoolers or young readers and are suitable for family devotions, Bible clubs, or Sunday School.
Jennie Atkinson was a shy girl
Jennie Atkinson was a shy, timid girl who lived a long time ago. When she was very little her mama died and her new stepmother loved her and took care of her. But one day her stepmother also died and soon Jennie’s father was going to marry again. For some reason that Jennie did not understand, her father and his new wife decided to send eight-year-old Jennie away to be adopted by some distant cousins. “What is wrong with me that my own father does not want to keep me?” Jennie asked herself.
The child was sent away alone on a big train. Before she left her father placed a nametag on her coat so the conductor would know her name and the train stop where she was going. Jennie got on the big train and left everyone and everything that was familiar to her.
The train conductor helped her get off at the right station. Jennie squinted as she stepped off the dark train into the bright sun. She looked around and waited expectantly but no one was there to meet a little girl. Now she felt even more alone and insecure. She waited as the depot agent contacted her cousin who finally came to pick her up after a long wait.
Would anyone ever really want little Jennie?
Jennie’s cousin and his wife were kind to her but they were very surprised that this little girl had been sent to them. There must have been some mistake. They were willing to adopt one of Jennie’s brothers, but they had not wanted a girl. After talking it over they decided to keep her, but Jennie knew they were disappointed. Would anyone ever really want little Jennie?
A few years passed when one day Jennie read in the newspaper that her very own father was going to be in a nearby town as a special speaker. Oh how excited she was that she could see her father again!
After the lecture she went up front with other well-wishers to speak to her father. He reached out to shake her hand and casually asked, “Whose little girl are you?” Jennie’s own father did not even know who she was. How lonely and abandoned she felt!
God will never leave us or forsake us
But God was working in Jennie’s life and she opened her heart to the Great Heavenly Father Who would never leave her or forsake her. She confessed her sins and asked Christ to save her. Soon she began to understand that God was leading her to be a missionary to China.
After graduating from college Jennie was qualified to be a teacher. She began teaching at a small school near her cousin’s home and was in charge of a Sunday School class of children. She knew God had spoken to her about serving Him as a missionary in China but in spite of her love of teaching, she was timid and afraid at the thought of going to such a distant country as China.
Finally some leaders in her church asked for several highly-trained unmarried women to volunteer to work as missionaries in China. God again whispered to Jennie that He wanted her to serve Him in China, and Jennie said “Yes” to God’s call.
The first time she saw a Chinese person was when she traveled to the west coast to meet the boat traveling to China. Jennie was so shy and fearful she could not even speak to the man! Soon she was aboard the ship that was taking her to China, but Jennie still struggled with timidity, insecurity, and fear. How could she help the Chinese learn about Jesus if she was this shy?
Going to China
The ship docked in Shanghai where missionaries and Chinese Christians greeted the ladies with such kindness and warmth that Jennie no longer felt afraid. She looked around at the thousands of people crowding the docks and streets of Shanghai. Her heart was overflowing with compassion as she saw the Chinese people surrounding her. These dear Chinese needed Christ and God would help her tell them.
Chinese people find western names strange and hard to pronounce. The Chinese place the surname first. Where we would say Jane Doe, they would say *Doe Jane. Jennie was given the name Kyung, which means gold. Her first name became Tsung-sung, meaning Arouse-Music. So Jennie Atkinson was now named Miss Kyung Tsung-sung or Miss Gold Arouse-Music!
The Chinese language is intricate and complicated but it needed to be learned in in order to communicate with the Chinese people around her. God gave Jennie the idea to learn Chinese like she had learned music – using rhythm and tones. Because of this she became conversant in the Chinese language much more quickly than her fellow missionaries.
As her language skills improved Jennie was able to visit the different schools she was in charge of and teach the children hymns. Her students loved her and soon she was invited to visit their homes where she could practice speaking Chinese with her students and their families.
Loved by her Chinese family
Over time many students came to know the Lord and became Bible-teaching women, pastors, school teachers and church leaders. God used Jennie to help establish a church, to build many schools and to arrange training for many pastors and teachers.
Jennie’s students loved her and her shy ways and accepted both her and her teaching. They could tell that she loved them and wanted to help them. When Jennie returned to America for furlough her Chinese friends and family wept and begged her to ‘come back home’ soon. She finally realized that God provided a home for her among the Chinese people she was called to serve.
Verse: Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave you nor forsake you (based on Deuteronomy 31:6)
Ten questions for young readers:
- What does the word timid mean?
- What happened to young Jennie that made her feel unwanted?
- Who will never leave or forsake us?
- What job did Jennie train for?
- Where did God want Jennie to go as a missionary?
- Who would help Jennie tell the Chinese people about Jesus?
- What language was Jennie able to learn quickly?
- Where did God finally provide a home for Jennie?
- Can God use shy people to be missionaries?
- Where was Jennie’s true home and family?
Bibliography: White, Mary Culler. Just Jennie: The Life Story of Virginia M. Atkinson. Atlanta: Tupper and Love, 1955.
*Suggestion: When reading this to your children substitute the child’s name for Jane Doe.