Our children have been exposed to images of our sisters and brothers in West Africa dying of Ebola. I wonder if our children feel helpless? Do you feel helpless? I did, until a child reminded me that we are the hands and feet of God on this earth, and it is time to move them. Children want to help. They see children who are sick and dying, and developmentally it is difficult for them to understand whether or not they are also in harm’s way.
Those of you who follow this blog may have read the title of this blog on several occasions. My mother used this to remind us of the meaning of discipleship. Prayer is an important part of living as a disciple. This is how we communicate with God. This is how we listen, and understand what God is calling us to be. The “move your feet” part is a little more difficult for adults, but not for children. They are always ready to move their feet…to use their hands and feet in service to others. We just need to guide them on this natural journey.
The reality of Ebola is that the world should have been present earlier. Government agencies around the world tried to work around policies and procedures. The Church prayed, and since June, The United Methodist Church has been working to prevent the spread of the virus. Prayer is vital. Moving our feet is vital. “Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead”! And our children are asking what we are going to do about people who are suffering. So, what are we going to do about it? How can we give our children agency as we respond to the Ebola crisis?
DISCIPLESHIP FOR CHILDREN
ACTS OF JUSTICE
- Write letters to government, church, and non-profit leaders asking them to pay attention to those who are sick and dying all over the world from diseases.
- Talk to your pastor, district superintendent, or bishop about what The United Methodist Church can do to help people who are suffering with Ebola and their families.
ACTS OF MERCY
- Send video messages (YouTube, Twitter, Instagram) to those who are taking care of people who being treated for Ebola. Thank them for their service, and let them know that they are being prayed for.
- Collect money to give to UMCOR or other relief organizations who serve people who are suffering with Ebola.
- Do something that helps those who are in need in your community.
ACTS OF DEVOTION
- Write prayers together to pray for people who are suffering with Ebola, those who have lost loved ones to the virus, caregivers, and relief workers.
- Draw a prayer picture of someone who recovers from Ebola.
ACTS OF WORSHIP
- Ask to lead the congregation in a prayer or a hymn that lifts up the people suffering with Ebola.
- Write a prayer in the form of a Haiku or Cinquain (with the help of an adult), and ask if you may read it in worship. Writing A Haiku
RESOURCES FOR LEADERS AND PARENTS
Ebola – What Parents Need to Know from The American Academy of Pediatrics
It is much easier to catch to the flu or other respiratory viruses than Ebola. For example, based on the Ebola statistics we have right now, it is likely that flu will cause far more illness and deaths around the globe than Ebola will.
Understandably, there is heavy coverage in the media about the spread of Ebola. However, it is a good idea to limit children’s exposure to news stories about it. This way, parents can decide what information they want to share based on their child’s level of understanding.
Here are some things to remind your children if they are concerned: (from AAP)
They are safe.
Our health care system is among the best in the world for taking care of sick people.
Ebola is rare and does not exist everywhere. When cases are found, the person with the infection is taken to a safe place to be cared for so that he can get better and not make anyone else sick.
Doctors and scientists who know a lot about Ebola are working hard to find ways to prevent or cure this illness.