USA (MNN) — Americans are reeling from a tragic weekend. Two mass shootings, one in Dayton, Ohio and another in El Paso, Texas, killed at least 31 people in total. The gunman in El Paso opened fire in a Walmart when many families were back-to-school shopping. In Dayton, victims were gunned down in a popular nightlife district.
Another mass shooting over the weekend at a food festival in Northern California left three people dead, two of them children.
This horrifying string of events has stolen loved ones, broken hearts, and scarred communities.
While various parties clamor for action, Greg Yoder with Keys for Kids Ministries says as believers, we should always pair our responses with the healing and mercy of Christ.
“If you’re right in the middle of this — let’s say you’re in Dayton or you’re in Texas — obviously, there are a lot of hurting people that probably need to know the truth [and] need some hope. So my suggestion is pray that God opens doors for you to share some hope with people who are desperately searching, who are wounded, who are grieving today.
“The reality is we need Christ. And that’s kind of the point.”
Christian parents may wonder how to talk to their kids about the shootings and help them process. Yoder offers some insight:
“As parents, I think it’s important, first of all, that we identify the fact that there is evil in the world and who that founder is — but secondly, that there is rescue from that evil and the rescue is Jesus Christ.
“Real life kinds of stories like school shootings, when we talk about these with little children, [do so] in a way that is going to remind them that they don’t have to be afraid because God is there. God is in control. He always has His hands on us.”
It may be difficult, but Yoder emphasizes parents need to be bold in addressing these hard topics of death, evil, and tragedy.
“If we’re not talking to our kids about stuff like this, their friends are talking to our kids about it. So I would just encourage you to talk to your kids about things that are happening in the news so they can be relevant within the culture, so they know how to pray, and…they can find Scripture to help them in their walk with this horrible tragedy.”
Keys for Kids exists to ignite a passion for Christ in the hearts of children, teens, and families. They have resources to help Christian parents point kids to Gospel truth, like Keys for Kids devotionals.
Yoder says going through these devotionals as a family is a great way to prompt spiritual discussions and disciple your children.
If starting daily family devotionals seems daunting, “maybe you can do it on the weekends on Saturday and Sunday — just reading through some of these things with your kids, asking these important questions that kind of come at the end of the text, and then of course most importantly, reading the Scripture that goes along with these stories.”
Teenagers can also check out Unlocked, a new quarterly devotional from Keys for Kids that’s written for teens.
Unlocked addresses cutting-edge issues every teen deals with and brings the focus back to Christ.
Yoder says especially in our modern age of technology addiction and rising mental health issues, a devotional for teens like Unlocked couldn’t be more timely.
“Teenagers, when you start feeling rejected and alone and you start wanting to go to that dark room and only play video games and not have interaction with people, that’s when you need to kind of realize, ‘Wait a minute, maybe this is me. Maybe I do need to look at this story and ultimately look to the Bible where we’re going to find ultimate truth.’”
As today’s children and teens find hope in Christ, they will be equipped to lead their generation and point others to His truth.
Please pray for young people to know Jesus and boldly reach their peers with Gospel hope. Ask God to give parents wisdom as they discuss tragedy with their kids and point them to Christ.
“It’s not enough to know who Jesus is and to get all filled with all this knowledge,” Yoder says. “We really want young people, especially teenagers, to be multipliers because they can have such an influence in our culture.”
Header photo courtesy of Unsplash