Where to in 2018 for our young?

Friday January 26, 2018 Written by Published in Church Talk
Too many young Cook Islanders are getting caught up in the justice system from an early age, says Pastor Eliu Eliu of the SDA church. 18012513 Too many young Cook Islanders are getting caught up in the justice system from an early age, says Pastor Eliu Eliu of the SDA church. 18012513

We are now close to the end of the first month of 2018.

Personally, I wonder where all the days have gone. I had a quiet Christmas and New Year, but enjoyed the holiday period to recharge and rejuvenate, building up to face the challenges and opportunities in the months ahead.

Along the way, I met briefly with friends and shared a moment or two catching up. Just a few days before Christmas, I was at the airport waiting for family arriving from New Zealand. I met one of my good lawyer friends. We had a quick happy greeting and shortly afterwards I asked him how he was doing.

Our discussion started to focus on lives of people he was dealing with legally in his profession. I listened carefully to what he was saying. He poured his heart out about the many young people who are in trouble with the law. He tries his best to achieve the best outcome for these young people, but to him it is as though he is continually hitting a brick wall and unable to achieve a breakthrough.

Many of these young people have no-one and no place to turn to for support, care and love. Our social system is not catering their needs even to the point where their very own parents do not want to have anything to do with their own kids anymore.

I heard in the voice of my lawyer friend a cry for help. These people are our very own young people. They are caught up in this lifestyle and they do not know how to get out of it.  They are unable to see a better option. Many of them are getting branded, ridiculed and targeted and do not have a good platform to work from in order to take responsibility and rehabilitate into the community with confidence.

We also talked about the increase in domestic violence, which is frequently mentioned on our local news on TV and is a regular subject of stories in CINews. The sad thing is, this reflects the breakdown of our homes and community. More and more of our local families are getting caught up with this and it is not good for all family members involved, contributing to the lack of discipline of the children and young people. The loss of respect and love becomes more obvious. Numerous questions need answers here. What has gone wrong? What happened to the values that has been a fortress of safety and integrity in our homes and community? What has changed? How can we stop and get out of this growing trend? What are these problems a sign of?

When we take a careful look, the future looks bleak. What things are entering into the minds of our young people, at home, at school, at church, at sport or cultural clubs, on the internet?

We need to ask, how can these different entities who are there to provide help, assist in the curbing of these negative developments in our young people? Who should take responsibilities in addressing this issue? What is the mindset at this present time, a fence on top of the cliff or an ambulance at the bottom for casualties?

Currently, it seems the only option is for more ambulances at the bottom of the cliff. I personally believe, the responsibility lies with us as leaders. Why are we leaders? Are we leading for our own personal gain and benefit?

Or are we leaders because people of whatever background and origin have been entrusted into our care and keeping. Are we genuinely in love with the people we are responsible to provide guidance, resources, time and care? To do this is what is expected of us, no matter where you are leading from. Be it in the government, church, school, tribe, family or other streams, we have to be serious about this or it will turn back and hurt us.

Ultimately, look at how God considers us. In John 3:16, it says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

We are encouraged to follow God’s example. He gave all of heaven in His Son to redeem us all back to Him. To ensure we are rescued from the eternal claws of sin.

To me, we need to be upfront about this and stop meddling around with the lives of people. There are already too many of our very own who are falling through the cracks of our society because the cracks are getting bigger and accessible and the chances of falling through is greater.  Knowing this, what then can we do? I have planned to address this as a church. Challenging each of our local SDA churches to address this issue by setting up their ministry and services to address this problem. This will require a lot of commitment in time, money and resources. It will have an impact on how we have been doing church. Because, what good it is to have churches that are unable to address and deal with what we have been discussing today?

The first important thing is to not be judgmental but to be redemptive in attitude. To be intentional and be real in expressing love and care. It may involve, frustration, sweat and tears, but the outcome will bring someone to the point where they who being love will respond positively. It is not going to be easy, we need divine help.

Empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit we can bring about new life and opportunities for our many young people and families caught up in the rift of hopelessness and despair. I have not mentioned alcohol, money or the lack of it, or illicit relationships as the cause of our problem before in this article. I see these challenges as symptoms to the core of the real problem. The Apostle Paul says in 1Timothy 3:1 – 8. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.”

Wow, when we think about these verses it is as though they were taken from the newspaper of today. Interesting in how the Bible can come up with these remarks made all those centuries ago but which still apply to our times.

We as a church need to play our role. Firstly, by ensuring the family units in our churches are strong. For if we are strong, we are then in a position to help families facing abuse. We need to open our hearts and the doors of our homes and churches if we are to take on the challenge of this task and see it as an opportunity to help someone.

I want to bring our discussion to the end by this story from the Bible. In Luke 10:25 – 37. “25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 26 ‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’ 27 He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 28 ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’ 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ 30 In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’36 ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’37 The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

Bring it on in 2018. Let us all put action to what we profess.

Have a great and safe weekend everyone.

            Pr Eliu

            SDA Church

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