This post, written by Doug Ranck, originally was published on August 28, 2017, on the ICTG blog.
School was supposed to start today in Texas.
Of course, for many students, it's not. If they are not huddled with their families on the second floors of their house, some had to spend last night on the roof, praying for a rescue. Those who have been rescued are transported to one of the shelters available through the Red Cross, various churches and houses of worship throughout the area, and other facilities.
No one can say for sure how long people will need to stay in shelters. Many must now make plans to connect with family, friends, or find a place to live for the next few months, if not years.
Today is devastatingly far from what they planned.
Among the many challenges facing Texas and Louisiana communities today, care of children and youth is vital. The experiences children and youth have during this storm and its aftermath will greatly impact the rest of their lives. Caring adults and youth leaders can enhance that impact for the better.
Below are tips for youth workers to help care for their volunteer leaders and youth in the wake of a massive storm. The role of a youth leader can be very rewarding and challenging even in the most ordinary of circumstances. A traumatic event in the magnitude of a hurricane forces us beyond the usual and into un-charted ministry (even if we have experienced a natural disaster before). The majority of youth leaders never signed up for "post hurricane ministry". Yet, here you are. Be the leader you are called to be, right now.
Calm – Once everyone is out of harm’s way, use a regular group meeting time to debrief with volunteer leaders and youth or setup a special time
Connect – The role of the leaders is to love and care for the youth. The role of the youth is to look after each other. In this or other settings remind youth and leaders the value of your church family, their own nuclear families, their friendships, and other caring adults in their lives including teachers or neighbors. A healthy community looks out for each other and one another’s well-being.
Communicate – Here is a short “game plan” to ensure an efficient communication flow during this long-term recovery season.
ICTG's Resource Guide for Youth Ministry can be a helpful support for you and your leaders over the next year or two.
Remember, long-term recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re one of your water stations along the way. Stop in when you need some support to keep going.
From 2012-2020, this blog space explored expanding understanding and best practices for leadership and congregational care.