In recent years, we have all likely been touched one or more of the many horrifying events both domestically and around the world. As we struggle to make sense of these tragic events, we know that our young people are also struggling. They have questions and fears that need to be addressed. The Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries makes the following suggestions for all Clergy and youth workers preparing to lead a discussion on this topic.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. We have enclosed some sessions to do with different ages. These sessions are accompanied with discussion questions and answers, activities, scriptural and patristric references.However, other questions will arise with our young people that we have not prepared answers for. Please review some of the material provided to assist you in leading a session. We have also listed links for you to look at to gather additional information. We especially recommend going to the Department ofYouth and Young Adult Ministries of the Orthodox Church in America’s web-site at www.oca.org They have prepared a document with potential questions with Orthodox Christian responses. Remember this is a very sensitive subject and we want to provide the best possible answers for our young people.
Keep personal politics and opinions out of it. You can discuss how what happened makes you feel, but this is not the time for you to tell what you think should be done or should have been done. You are there to provide an ear and guide the young people to our Lord for healing. The healing process may take years, but we hope that the materials provided will assist you in beginning this process.
Know where the young people are coming from and how this has impacted their lives. For example a GOYA group in New York City may have a very different discussion than a group in Boulder, Colorado. Their lives have been impacted differently. But pay special note if you have young people who have family that were directly affected, or if there are some that have loved ones missing.
Please make sure that you have someone capable of helping young people that are having a difficult time with this (clergy or counselor). It would be great to have that person at your session and introduce them to the young people as someone they can talk to if need be.
The young people are struggling to make sense of whatever the tragedy is, and so are adults. We should not pretend to have all the answers as to why this happened and what the future will hold. Many of the fears that young people will share and questions they will have are the same ones we have. There are some things that we will never have answers to. Admitting this is okay.
- Take care of yourself.
- Assist those who need help.
- If you are having a difficult time, seek out help from a professional.
Above all approach this through prayer. In these difficult times, we can only get through by asking our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to help, guide and strengthen us.