Dear Family Leader,
The following suggestions are intended to give church leaders and parents a place to start when trying to help others deal with crisis of any kind. Often we want to help, but we just dont know what to do.
Every crisis is different, but these seven actions will always help.
- Get to a secluded spot and talk out loud about what has happened and what youre thinking and feeling. Close out your conversation with... I know you already knew that Lord, but I just needed to talk about it. Thanks for listening. In Jesus name... This kind of conversational prayer is liberating and encouraging. And it prepares you to be a listener for others. Prayer is exactly what all ages need most during crisis times. Keep praying for others by name, and let them know youre praying for them, even if you dont know them.
- Watch for children having trouble. Look for the following warning signals:
- Fearfulness and worry about safety,
- aggressive/angry behavior,
- headaches and/or stomachaches,
- difficulty paying attention,
- a growing sense of hopelessness.
Granted younger children may not be aware enough to exhibit these symptoms, but children from 6 to 12 years may exhibit many of them. When talking with children, dont diminish or deny the painget the facts and the feelings out in the open i.e. anger, fear, disbelief, ...why. Talk about the pain and the hurt and the anger.
Dont jump to conclusions. Get accurate information about what happened. its important to give youngsters a chance to share what they know and feel. Little people have intense feelings; they just dont know the words to use in describing the feelings. Sometimes it helps to have everyone draw pictures of how they feeling. This activity open the door for discussionAsk each one to tell about their pictures. All ages can do this and all ages will benefit by doing it.
Find a least one person who knows how to hug and how to listen. The following story illustrates the point:
When 8-year-old Toby crawled into bed the television news reporters were still talking about the tragedy. He was worried and really afraid of being alone. His Dad sat down on the bed and they talked about what had happened. By the time they finished, Dad was sure he had taken care of Tobys fears. After a prayer together he got up to leave the room.
Toby, he said, when things happen that upset us and frighten us, its a signal for us to talk to God. Can you do that?
Wanting to be brave, Toby agreed, I think so, Lets pray again, OK.
Together they prayed for everything about the tragedy. Dad kissed Toby good night and eagerly headed to the kitchen for a snack.
Before he could get the popcorn into the microwave, Toby was out of bed running down the hall, arms outstretched, straight into the surprised, but protective lap of his father.
Tooooby, Dad questioned, What are you doing, I thought we took care of everything. You dont have to be afraid anymore. God will help you.
I know Dad, I know God will help, I just wanted someone with skin on.
Sometimes hugswithout any wordsare the only things that work.
- Do something about the tragedy. Donate money to a fund to help families that have suffered the most. Give blood if there is a need. Send cards to those who are in grief. Write encouraging letters to those who might not get any help (i.e. the parents of the boys who fired the rifles).
- Find stories of heroes and retell their stories. Every crisis has heroes. For example in the Jonesboro shooting tell about the teacher, Shannon Wright who threw herself in front of sixth-grader Emma Pittman. The girl wasnt hurt, but the teacher took two bullets and died later in the hospital. She gave her life for the students.
- Focus on the next stepget back in your regular routine. Talk as a family everyday. Get together as church and openly talk about, what has happened, what youve felt during the tragedy, and what has helped. Trust God for each day and dont worry about understanding the event. Why? is always a complicated question. And after all, its never as important as the What now? question.
- Write a daily journal about your personal thoughts, feelings, and reactions. These written images of life will help you trace your faith-growth through the crisis.
Remember, we are the skin of God and he is our confidence, even when we dont understand.
Hope this helps.
Grace and Peace,