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Since 2012, Lutheran Hour Ministries has been introducing elementary and middle school students to how the Gospel is shared around the world through its Online Mission Trip. This year's "trip" will take thousands of students from more than 400 Lutheran schools across North America to the African nation of Madagascar during National Lutheran Schools Week, Jan. 23-27.

Madagascar is known to many people for its natural beauty and abundance of rare plant and animal species. However, most kids know the country better from the series of popular animated films in the last decade featuring stars such as Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, and Jada Pinkett-Smith. Lutheran Hour Ministries is excited to show kids the real Madagascar, a land filled with fascinating people and cultures as well as amazing opportunities to share the Good News!

What's in store during the Online Mission Trip? Participants will experience an entirely different culture without leaving the classroom by watching engaging daily videos that expand their awareness of the world and how God's church is at work. These videos offer opportunities to meet ministry staff in the country, see historic locations, watch "day in the life" videos through the eyes of kids in the country, and witness on-site filming of ministry programs. Beyond the videos, teachers can also download free curriculum preparing students for the cultural variances of the African country.

"Children love the hands-on service experience of a mission trip, but they have few opportunities to get involved," says Brad Neathery, associate director of constituent services for Lutheran Hour Ministries. "We created the Online Mission Trip so students could learn about people from different cultures and how God's Word is being shared with them."

Students are encouraged to interact with Lutheran Hour Ministries' staff in Madagascar by posting questions and comments on Facebook and Twitter. Staff in the U.S. and Madagascar will respond to these questions and continue the conversation with classes across North America. Students also learn how they can directly impact the people they see in the Online Mission Trip. Students, parents, and schools are invited to generously support the mission work taking place in Madagascar. Many schools choose to designate part of their chapel offerings for the year to the Online Mission Trip destination country. Students also fill milk carton banks to support Lutheran Hour Ministries' global mission work. Since the beginning of the Online Mission Trip in 2012, more than $100,000 has been given by kids in response!

"The Online Mission Trip is also a great way for students in the United States and Canada to learn about the economic and social challenges of people in Madagascar, and the outreach activities of our ministry center," says Neathery. "While the students learn about Madagascar, they also support the physical and spiritual needs of children living in that country."

Learn more about the Online Mission Trip to Madagascar, as well as past virtual trips to Paraguay, Thailand, Kenya, Latvia, and Guatemala, by visiting www.lhm.org/onlinemissiontrips.

St. Louis-based Lutheran Hour Ministries (www.lhm.org) is a global media ministry that equips and engages volunteers to passionately proclaim the Gospel. Through various media platforms, Lutheran Hour Ministries reaches hurting people in 50-plus countries on six continents with Christ's message of hope. The ministry works in areas where other Christian organizations are not present and employs local missionaries in more than 35 ministry centers worldwide who know the language, understand the culture, and know best how to communicate the Gospel in their context. Its flagship ministry, The Lutheran Hour, airs weekly on more than 1,700 radio stations throughout North America as well as online.

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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