Millions of people have watched the recent video of a father and young son at an informal memorial site in front of a theater in Paris. A reporter captured them talking about the November 13th terrorist attacks.
The father gently comforts the boy, who is worried about the “very, very, very, bad” people who “can shoot us.” Calmly and kindly, the father answers his son’s questions, and does not encourage him to be fearful or to hate.
As Christians, we have even more to offer children when they ask questions about the suffering of Christians and others. We can remind them that the Bible tells us many times to not be afraid, because Jesus is always with us, God loves us very much, and He always watches over us.
Sometimes it can be more difficult to explain why we shouldn’t hate our enemies. After children listened to stories of persecution at a VOM children’s event almost 15 years ago, some of them reacted by saying, “I hate Muslims.”
At subsequent events, we emphasized Jesus’ command to, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” We told them that VOM founder Richard Wurmbrand noted that, “Jesus fears and hates no one.” We told them about Pastor Wally, who said “I-s-l-a-m” stands for “I sincerely love all Muslims.” Pastor Wally said this after he was imprisoned and beaten by Muslims for his Christian activities in Saudi Arabia.
Most of all, we can emphasize persecuted Christians’ courage, obedience, and joy in following Christ, rather than graphic details of persecution.
- Peace, a first-grader in Asia, boldly called out to Buddhists in his grandmother’s temple, “Jesus is God!”
- Myriam, a 10-year-old Iraqi refugee, forgives ISIS fighters who drove her from her home.
- Evelyn, a girl who escaped from Nigerian kidnappers, said, “I thank God that He kept me alive….I am ready and willing to work for God.”
And, of course, we can assure children that God hears their prayers for the persecuted and for the repentance of their persecutors.
VOM’s Kids of Courage resources help parents and educators teach children ages 5 to 13 about persecuted Christians around the world, and provide opportunities for children to serve and pray for them. Learn more at www.kidsofcourage.com.