Meeting hate with love, suffering with care and rejection with welcome

College Senior Pastor, Thomas Böhmert

As we go back to school and work this week we do so in the confidence that we are safe—just as most people do when they gather for worship. Sadly, this was not the case for those who gathered for worship at two mosques on Friday in Christchurch—in peaceful, far-away from conflict, friendly New Zealand. The events there are a brutal reminder of the reach and impact of extremist ideology—and a call for us to support civil society.

Our hearts go out to those who suffered loss and whose lives were brutally disrupted in a sacred space. NZ PM Jacinda Ardern said it was one of the country’s ‘darkest days’. She also said of the victims that ‘they are us’, that is, not a ‘them’ as the gunman sought to portray them. In the aftermath of the attack, many people in major cities across the world reached out to Muslim friends and strangers to offer sympathy and support.

As the stories unfold of heroes and victims, your children will deal with confronting events in various and individual ways. They may be confused. Feel helpless. Have worries and fear. Others may have been affected by the impact of Social Media.

Helping your children

It is important to check in with your child and discuss what happened and why. Ask them what they have seen on the internet or TV and how they feel about it. Allow your children the space to talk.

Assure your children they are safe and this is an unusual and extreme event. Be aware this may trigger memories of previous traumatic events.

With older children you may wish to talk about extremism and why someone might want to hurt people. Reflect on what makes them angry or frustrated and how they deal with such things.

Also think about where your children might get their information from, how they use digital media and how this may be helpful or harmful.

College counsellors and Chaplains are available to talk with St Peters’ families further if required. Please reach out to the counsellor by email for an appointment through Fire Fly—search ‘Counselling’ for details.

Assure your children of God’s love for all people, his presence with all those who suffer and his call to us to share his love in practical ways. As a Lutheran family, in schools and churches and as individuals working together, we seek to meet hate with love, suffering with care and rejection with welcome.

Roman 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.