Haiti, Why Bad Things Happen, and Teaching Children to Respond Through Mission

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by American Red Cross)

Many of you, like me, are heartbroken by the pictures of the devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti a couple of days ago. It can be overwhelming and disheartening thinking of how we can help. Then you hear about something a public Christian figure says in response to the earthquake, and you want to bang your head on the wall… (BTW, I won’t waste any time here responding to those comments other than referring you to read posts by the following people: Don Miller, Susan Isaacs, Eugene Cho, and Larry Shallenberger. They do a much better job than I ever could of responding.)

At times like this, I always hear questions from kids about why things like this happen. Why do bad things happen? Why do so many people have to die? Each time I have no good answers for them. The world is broken. It’s not what God intended it to be. So what do we do? What do we say to children when stuff like this happens.

Let me offer what I believe is a missional response… First, I listen to what kids are saying. I ask them why they think stuff like the Haiti earthquake happens. I listen. I don’t correct or steer. I listen. I then ask them what God might be wanting them to do in order to help. What can we do to bring God’s Kingdom to a dark and devastating situation? How can we pray for what’s going on there? How can we give to help those helping? How can we bring light to that situation?

I think we get so caught up sometimes in trying to explain why bad things happen. We forget that question is more of a distraction sometimes. The real question is, “How can we help God’s Kingdom come in the midst of pain and disaster and darkness?” We need to empower kids to take a look at the world around them and all that is broken around them and ask, “God, how can I be light? How can I be a part of your Story of redemption in this situation? How can I love you and love others in this?”

This weekend, we will be helping children to respond to the images they’ve more than likely seen on television and online. We will give them tangible ways to respond through prayer (by setting up stations where they can specifically pray for specific situations) and through giving (of money, encouraging cards, and art). Those are our ideas right now.

  • What are you doing to help children respond?

BTW, if you are looking for some organizations to give to for the Haiti relief effort:

You can also check out your local denomination to see if they have a fund set up for donations towards relief in Haiti.

Here’s a video from Tony Kummer with tips on giving towards Haiti:



9 thoughts on “Haiti, Why Bad Things Happen, and Teaching Children to Respond Through Mission

  1. jamie doyle says:

    superb – great insight!

  2. karl bastian says:

    After reading the links above (the blank one being my favorite!) Pat Robertson may have been technically or theologically correct to a degree (sins to 4th and 5th generation etc.) and if you watch the entire clip I think he was quit sincere and sympathetic and wanting to help and see a revival there – but it really comes down to timing. Gee whiz. When people are hurting, that isn't the time to throw blame around and it certainly isn't the fault of these people what is happening now nor the time to be discussing choices made there long ago.Otherwise, we'd better watch out for things our grandparents did. (looking around nervously) We could equally be discussing choices our nation or others made years ago… would make just as much sense. but why now? Pointless… now is the time to HELP! good post. I donated through Pat's organization, I feel bad the old guy didn't have the sense to understand the fire storm he would cause, when he sincerely is trying to help there. as are so many others. he lacks some common sense, but i think has a good heart. don't we all at times?

    • henryjz says:

      Thanks for the comments, Karl. I agree with you. I know that Pat Robertson's heart was in the right place. Unfortunately, he chose to use some unwise words at an unwise time in a VERY public forum. That being said, yes, we are all susceptible to putting our feet in our mouths. I think we can all agree, though, that action is what is needed in situations like this; outpouring of love in very tangible ways through aid. God bless those who are on the ground there helping. I hope that in situations like this we can help children understand that our response is to reach out and make God's Kingdom values tangible in the darkness of pain and suffering.

  3. Brent Douglas says:

    before you jump on the band wagon attacking Pat, (my assumption you mean him) you might want to prayerfully consider this godly response to Pat Robertson's comments: http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/1520212697….

    • henryjz says:

      Thanks for that link. I still think it was unwise for Pat to say the things he did at the time he did. I'm sure we will probably disagree on that, but I hope we can agree (which I know Pat Robertson advocates) that our response needs to be one of providing aid in ways that we are able to.

  4. uberVU - social comments says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kidology: RT @jamie_doyle: good stuff by @henryjz http://www.elementalcm.com/2010/01/14/haiti-why-bad-things-happen-and-teaching-children-to-respo ……

  5. […]  He addresses the age-old question “why did this bad thing happen” in his recent post. I think we get so caught up sometimes in trying to explain why bad things happen. We forget that […]

  6. […] From time to time I read a blog by a children’s pastor in Canada, Henry Zonio. He recently started a parenting blog that has peaked my interest.  He addresses the age-old question “why did this bad thing happen” in his recent post. […]

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