Where is God in this trying season? A new family devotional helps answer your child’s questions
by Geraldine Tan // February 19, 2020, 4:03 pm
Reverend Jenni Ho-Huan and The Treasure Box Singapore founders, Elvin and Esther Foong, have written a free family devotional, complete with illustrations from Sharon Ngoo, to help parents with young children to understand where God is during this uncertain period. All images courtesy of The Treasure Box Singapore.
“On social media, many people are saying don’t fear, don’t fret about the COVID-19 situation. If adults are saying that, can you imagine what is going on in a child’s mind? Children may be more scared than we realise,” says Reverend Jenni Ho-Huan, 53.
To help families with young children and teenagers understand where God is within the COVID-19 situation, Rev Jenni and The Treasure Box Singapore’s founders Esther and Elvin Foong, together with illustrator Sharon Ngoo, have released free family devotional e-guides, The Gift of Peace Family Devotional, one for children aged 4 to 12 and another for teenagers.
“God has placed us in families first. So that must be the place where our faith must be real for us.”
With many churches cancelling children’s church programmes as a precaution, many families are stuck at home on the weekends instead of being in church. The team behind the devotionals believes that this is an opportunity for families to draw closer to God. They hope the e-book would help families to talk, pray and respond to what is going on.
“As many are forced to stay home, I hope this would kickstart family devotions as this is a time when parents can disciple their children,” explains Rev Jenni. “When we look at how God has designed us, He has placed us in families first. So that must be the place where our faith must be real for us.”
“For those who have never done it before, this is a good chance for them to start. For families who are already doing devotionals with their children, this is an additional resource that parents can use to talk about this particular situation,” says Elvin Foong, 38.
The devotional does not shy away from the hard question of why this has happened.
“You cannot just slap a Christian platitude on this as it is not helpful. Children are so smart.”
“We don’t just tell our children that God is in control, then after that they hear churches are affected too. You need to process these things with your children.
“You cannot just slap a Christian platitude on this as it is not helpful. Children are so smart and they ask so many questions. So the devotional does not moralise. Instead, it is written to encourage families to open up and talk,” says Rev Jenni.
“Parents can use this situation to help anchor their children’s faith, to see how God relates to them on a very, very real basis,” adds Esther Foong, 35.
Recognising that each family may be at different stages in their family devotion journey, the trio of authors have written the guide in a way that families can tailor the materials for discussions over one to five sessions.
They are also sensitive to the fact that every family and child is created differently, and as such have included tips on how to engage with their child.
Faith in action
The devotional also suggested simple, practical things a family can do to bless others during these challenging times.
“God has put us in our nation and our community to bring about something for the kingdom of God.”
“It is important for our faith to be real and not self-centred. As it is written in Galatians 5:6, the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. God has put us in our nation and our community to bring about something for the kingdom of God,” says Rev Jenni.
“Something as basic as kindness is a kingdom value; it is the fruit of the spirit. So I think we should be expressing it, just by doing the small acts that we can.”
To this end, the Foongs have created a free Gift of Peace “Thank You” message template that families can use to write or draw a message to encourage those affected or those on the frontlines of the fight against the virus.
“We are thankful that we have God’s peace and we hope that these notes will help families share this peace that they know with others,” says Esther.
“Don’t waste this season with your child!” urges Elvin. “Just because the family doesn’t go to church, doesn’t mean you are going to sit on your sofa and watch Netflix. Make the most of it – use the time to bond as a family, to find out more about each other. I think this is a great time to do that.”