Responding to Disaster

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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.

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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.

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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.

Share.

About Author

Christine Yount Jones

Christine has more than 26 years of children’s ministry experience. She is the Executive Editor of Children’s Ministry Magazine, has authored many books and articles on children’s ministry, and serves as Group’s Children’s Ministry Champion. She’s responsible for development and innovation of new resources.

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