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Responding to Disaster

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, our thoughts and prayers have gone out for the victims and their families and friends. We are also praying for those ministers, caregivers, and brothers and sisters in Christ who are seeking to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this horrific situation.

In times like these, we're aware that it's difficult to know what to say and do. To help out, please download this free copy of Group's Emergency Response Handbook for Children's Ministry to use or share with others.

From the book, here are some quick tips of what to say...and what not to say--as you minister to these children and families.

What Not to Say

"You should be grateful. There are children who have it worse than you." This might be true. However, it sends the message to the child that he or she never has the right to complain of feel loss. If a child buys into this line of thinking, he or she will learn to repress instead of express feelings.

"This can't happen again." Avoid making false assurances. Instead, redirect kids to see God as their forever friend who will never leave them and who will be with them during every trial.

"It will all be better tomorrow."  Reassure the child, but don't give false hope. It will take a while for things to get back to normal and for the child to start feeling better--it's better to be upfront about that.

"Be brave." It's natural for a child to have fears after a tragic event. Telling the child to be brave can give the impression that those fears are not OK to have.

What to Say

"I'm right here." Your physical presence is just as important as your words. Let the child know that you are here to help with whatever he or she needs.

"I'm so upset about what happened, but I'm glad you're OK." Acknowledge the event and don't minimize it, but also try to offer some positive thoughts.

"May I pray with you?" Prayer connects us to God, and that's where a fearful or grieving family needs to be. God is the only one who can truly calm our fears or heal our broken hearts. Offer to pray with a child and family, or pray for them if they're unable.

"What do you need?" At a time like this, everyday life can be overwhelming. Don't assume you know what the child or family needs. Ask and then be prepared to deliver.

For more insight into ministering to these children and families, download the free copy of Group's Emergency Response Handbook for Children's Ministry.

Posted at 10:16

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