Mercy Moment

Helping Children Find Comfort in Christ

LCMS Disaster Response provides ‘Camp Courage’ for children impacted by disaster.

Weeks after a tornado hit the small town of Ottawa, Ill., children in Zion Lutheran Church’s Sunday school and preschool continued to talk about “the tomato that came” and roleplay going to the basement, said Susan Roberts, Zion’s preschool director.

The EF3 tornado, which hit Ottawa and nearby Naplate on Feb. 28, damaged numerous homes and killed two people.

“We knew that there was trauma that happened to these children and some fears that they were going to have in the weeks and months to come,” said the Rev. David Daniel, Zion’s pastor.

So when Daniel heard about “Camp Courage,” a new program from LCMS Disaster Response that is specifically geared for children who have experienced a disaster, he was interested in bringing it to Zion.

Camp Courage is a vacation Bible school-style program that uses Bible stories, puppet skits, crafts, games, journal writing and disaster preparedness to help children gain spiritual tools and practical tips to deal with their fears, find relief from stress and develop coping mechanisms. The program was written by a Lutheran educator with 30 years of experience, and it was reviewed by pastors, clinical psychologists and social workers before being made available for congregational use.

“Even though we don’t realize that children are affected, they hear their parents talking and they see it on the news,” said the Rev. Dr. Ross Johnson, director of LCMS Disaster Response. “The whole purpose of Camp Courage is to bring God’s comfort, reminding children that God is with them at every step of the way.”

Top: Campers make sheep crafts during Camp Courage at Zion Lutheran Church, Ottawa, Ill. Middle: A volunteer and camper share a fun moment. Bottom: The Rev. David Daniel, pastor of Zion, high-fives campers at the end of the day.

Thanks to generous donations, LCMS Disaster Response is able to offer the program free of charge to congregations like Zion.

In July, 60 kids from the Ottawa and Naplate communities attended Camp Courage, where they learned Bible stories, sang hymns and thought about where they find comfort in an uncertain world.

Daniel was impressed with the focus “on Jesus and the comfort that He offers with His Word.”

“It’s an honest presentation to the children, showing them that there are some bad things in this world. That’s the reality of living in a sin-filled world. There is death, there are these temporal things that happen to us,” he said. “Even though those things do happen, we still have our everlasting life with Jesus. We have that hope in the future.”

Hear from Susan Roberts, preschool director at Zion Lutheran Church in Ottawa, Ill., and Pastor David Daniel as they talk about Camp Courage.

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