By: Jarrod Stackelroth, Adventist Record, courtesy of Adventist Review

In the wake of the devastating Christchurch attacks on March 15, 2019, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South New Zealand has produced resources to help members connect with and support Muslim friends and neighbors in culturally appropriate ways.

With both video and printable assets, the simple techniques aim to break down barriers at a time when the people of Christchurch are struggling, according to South New Zealand Conference president Mike Sikuri.

“People here are tired,” Sikuri said. “[The attack] has brought back recent trauma from the earthquakes. We are shocked something like this can happen here. It raises questions about how we deal with people of other races and communities.”

Making connections is where Sikuri sees the resources as being important to coach church members. Yet, he said, he also recognizes that it is not only the Muslim community that is hurting.

Christchurch Adventist School is quite close to the scene of one of the mosque attacks and was placed in lockdown during the incident. While counselors and pastors have been providing support, Sikuri said, there has been a rise in the number of children responding violently to disagreements and having anxiety and panic attacks, particularly those who watched a video of the attack. Leaders in the conference church region are looking at how to best provide mental health first aid to the children and staff.

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