How we might help our kids with fears about COVID-19 | deal The alternate

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Did it seem a little strange to you? When we first heard advice from health authorities on how to stop the spread of COVID-19, you thought: is that it? "Really?" Wash your hands? Don't you touch our faces? Social distance? It was hard to believe that the original strategic global plan was found in our sinks!

Perhaps you feel the advice I will give to help children deal with this time of global panic, a little like the spiritual equivalent of "wash your hands!" However, it is a reminder that there are proven ways to help children in scary times.

First, realize that scary times can be much more than scary times.

The “worst time” can actually be an opportunity to strengthen belief in children by showing them how the belief works.

Start with real, but age-appropriate, conversations about COVID-19 with children. Ask questions to find out what they know or think they know. Correct anything that is not true or disproportionate. Explain that a virus or pandemic is common, but that doesn't mean everyone gets sick. We can assure children that their health and safety are our top priority and that we will do everything we can to protect them.

But don't stop here. Be a disciple In addition to the assurances, this is the time to share our God stories about how our faith grew strong in a difficult time. Children grow on the bottom of our faith. The contact with hope and faith from the life of a real person promotes real faith.

Be open. Be honest. To be there. Be full of faith. This is discipleship.

Then we should make sure that children have a toolbox with spiritual practices and know how to use them.

Don't take anything. Do you understand the gospel and trust in God to obtain salvation? Do you know how to use the basic tools of Christian life? Remember, these tools have empowered generations of believers in other challenging times. For example:

  • I could tell you about a memory when we were sitting under our primary school desks during air raid exercises because the nuclear war "The Russians are Coming" was a clear possibility. And how praying (and trusting) that God would save us would calm my fears.
  • The same basic tools of faith have led the greatest generation through two world wars and one global economic crisis.
  • These practices helped counter baby boomers, Vietnam, and riots that burned cities like Chicago and Los Angeles in the wake of social unrest.
  • More recently, these spiritual practices have empowered younger generations of believers through the AIDS epidemic, increased school shootings, and terrorism.

What are these proven spiritual tools that children need to deal with COVID-19? They are:

  • Christian community
  • prayer
  • font

Here's how it works: When I was growing up, my mother used my fears to teach me about the faith. After the death of an uncle, I was suddenly afraid to die in my sleep. My mother started to console me by offering fellowship. For a few nights she sat on my bed and tried to assure a very angry 4 year old child that I would live until morning.

It wasn't enough.

Next she took my hand and gave a word to each finger. I am. Always. With. You. "If you're scared, Valerie, remember that prayer and that God is always with you."

I felt better, but the tears were still flowing.

Then she spent several nights helping me memorize this comforting passage from John 14: “Don't let your heart be troubled; you believe in God, also believe in me. There are many villas in my father 's house:. . . I'm going to prepare a place for you. . . you can be where I am. "

The crucial night came. My mother sat on my bed and said, “Valerie, you know how to pray. You know the Bible verses by heart. If you're scared now, use these tools. "

And then she left me. Yes, my bedroom door was a crack open, but now it was up to me to use the child-friendly spiritual tools she had given me. Now I was able to conduct my own spiritual battles.

Community. Prayer. Font.

The spiritual equivalent of washing hands, right?

That being said, on September 11, Todd Beamer, a young father and passenger on kidnapped United Flight 93, joined other passengers in a heroic but futile takeover attempt. At the words "let's roll!" They resisted the terrorists, who then landed the plane on a Pennsylvania field instead of their intended, more populous destination. Everyone was lost.

Todd's courage is caught in these two words: "Let's roll!" But most people don't know what he did to strengthen himself just before he said those last words.

He reached for the most basic tools of Sunday school. On his cell phone, he called an operator and asked for someone to pray the Lord's Prayer with him. A Christian operator prayed with him. Then he asked her to recite Psalm 23 together.

Community. Prayer. Font.

That's it? Yes. With these very child-friendly tools, Todd Beamer was exposed to terrorism, a national crisis and death. We face another enemy, but the fear of a pandemic and an uncertain future is no small matter. Community. Prayer. Font.

Here we find the spiritual power to face today's crises. There is consolation that comes from God alone. Make sure your kids have these tools and know how to use them.

Valerie Bell is CEO of Awana.

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