By Ashley Perham
Baptist & Reflector
NASHVILLE — JAM, a one-day mission event for children, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
JAM, which stands for Journey into Adventures in Missions, was started by the Tennessee WMU in 1989.
Originally, the event was only for 1st through 6th grade girls in the WMU Girls in Action (GA) program.
In 2001, the event became open to all children in 1st-6th grade.
Tennessee WMU communications and childhood missions specialist Juliana Wilson served as coordinator for JAM this year.
“Each year, this event either collects supplies for a ministry or somehow lets the kids be involved in a state ministry,” said Wilson.
This year, JAM is focusing on missionaries of the Amazon River Basin, and is also partnering with the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board’s Christmas Backpack Ministry to provide backpacks filled with presents for Tennessee children in poverty.
There is a JAM event for each major region of the state. The event in East Tennessee was held on Sept. 27 and had 289 children, leaders, volunteers and missionaries participate.
Wilson said she anticipated similar numbers at the Middle and West Tennessee events, both happening on Oct. 26.
Last year’s ministry event was filling bags for homeless ministries to distribute in cities across Tennessee.
“The kids had the opportunity to impact and learn about how they can be involved in ministries right where they are,” Wilson said. “Our goal is to give them ways to be involved in ministries when they go home.”
The mission fair is the favorite part of the event for many children, as it was for Wilson herself when she was a GA, she said. The fair is set up with games and booths that have IMB missionaries available to talk to the children and share about their work.
There are also state missionaries and North American Mission Board missionaries.
“I always enjoy kids getting to meet missionaries and watching the younger kids and knowing that it’s their first time to meet the missionary,” said Anderson.
Wilson said that churches with varying levels of mission involvement send children to JAM to excite them about missions and to see missions in action.
“It’s just something that we offer to churches as an opportunity, whatever they want to make of it,” Wilson said. “Whether it’s something they learn at JAM that they take home, and then they’re involved in that ministry project; or if they meet a missionary there and they want to continue to partner with that missionary by praying for them or sending them letters.”
Wilson said that JAM has seen an uptick in attendance over the past two years.
“That is telling us that churches are interested in teaching their kids about missions and the Great Commission and what it means to live for Jesus, to love Him, and to share His love with others,” she said.
“No child is too young to learn about praying for missionaries, giving to missionaries, and doing missions,” Wilson said.