This heading in the Monday newspaper caught my attention. The article was about a couple of junior high school girls being caught naked in a rented room together with a bemo (public bus) driver! Based on this one incident it might be a bit much to refer to a whole generation, but sadly I must admit that we also have seen signs of a lost, or perhaps a more appropriate word “confused” generation. In a previous New Hope update I have mentioned about the rapidly widening of a culture gap between the older generation build on the foundations of modesty and respect and the young generation quickly adopting to western lifestyle exposed by the media. Instead of demanding respect from their young ones, the parents tend to give in to all the wills and wants under the mum of “loving them”. Another popular response to the misbehavior of their children is : It’s just a phase, we all went through that! There is some truth to the last statement, but as parents we have to be there to guide them through this difficult phase. Unfortunately in Timor there is not much support from the churches and media on how to deal with teenagers in an appropriate and biblical manner.
What triggered me to write about this topic, is that one of the New Hope girls Santi, was
a victim of this “lost generation” phenomenon. On her daily walks to the market Santi met this
handsome guy who had begun to take an interest in her. Karlos is his name, he works and lives at
the rice mill right behind our house. Without our knowledge the two of them started dating, and
he would walk with her to do the daily groceries, accompany her on trips into town, and meet
over the fence when we were not around. One of New Hope’s household rules is that the
children are not allowed to date for as long as they are still in the school benches. Once they are
allowed to date, they have to be open about their boy/girl friends and bring them home to be
introduced to us.
Since Santhi is not in school any more, but works full time at new hope in the kitchen
and office she was allowed to date, but she should have informed us about her relationship. I often sit down with the girls and talk together about the danger of dating in secret, it would not be the first time if a girl get’s raped and then left pregnant without the father taking responsibility. It appeared that Karlos also had a hidden agenda. One evening Pastor Ed made a comment on a new ring Santhi was wearing, just joking around we did not think anything of it, but when she got all flustered and red in her face, we had our suspicions. Upon further prodding, she opened up about her relation ship with Karlos. She said she had wanted to talk to us sooner, but was too embarrassed to do so, since Karlos was a member of the Roman Catholic church. Naturally this was a concern to us, and asked her how she thought to go about this, she responded by saying that she had already told him that she would not leave our church, but that he would have to join her. He put her at ease by saying that all churches are the same to him, and he would not have a problem with going to a protestant church. Well, we said, if that is the case he should show that he is serious about that, and we would like to see him in church this Sunday.
The following Sunday proved that Karlos was not at all of the opinion that “ all churches are the same” for he had answered Santhi that he would go to his church, and she could go to hers! We expressed our concerns towards Santi and asked her to make a prayerful decision regarding Karlos. At this time we did not forcefully want to end the relationship without her involvement in the decision. In most such cases the parents would use their power to end such a relation by imposing threats, often resulting in an elope. We really wanted Santhi to understand the difficulties of such a relationship and be aware of the impact it would have for her future. And so we left the decision up to her so far, but would watch her and make sure she would not meet Karlos unaccompanied.
Another rule at New Hope is that the children are not allowed to posses
handphones. When Santhi came home from the Kupang a week later, Albina ran to the front to
meet her, to find out what was so important for Albina to greet Santhi I followed her to the front,
just in time to intercept a handphone exchange! Santhi confessed that it was Karlos handphone
who had lent it to her to call her friend. The phone was kept for safe keeping, and as we went
through the files, we discovered just what this young man had on his agenda, for the phone had
at least 6 pornography videos saved on it. As I was going through the files, a text message came
in from Karlos asking his sweetheart to please not delete the video’s! Obviously he had wanted
her to watch these, and get attracted to the idea he had in mind. Thankfully the Lord in His time,
opened up Karlos deceptive true identity to us, preventing lots of possible harm done to Santhi.
That afternoon we sat down with Santhi and showed her what exactly Karlos was about,
and how dangerous this kind of a relation ship was. Santhi was devastated and in tears, not being able to stand the sight of him she decided it better to go back to her village for a few months. She has been in her village for about a month now, and has opened a small kiosk (store) to keep her busy during the days. As for Karlos, we have not seen or heard from him at all, he is one of the many young men not being guided and monitored by his parents. They are being deceived by the media, influenced by friends, no spiritual guidance they have become addicted to smoking, drinking, drugs and pornography. Yes it does seem as if this generation is lost, but before we “write them off” as lost there is still hope. Hope through our Lord Jesus Christ with whom nothing is impossible.
What can we do?
Spread the good news, reform, educate! Even though there are some positive elements in the
change of society in Indonesia today such as transparency, openness and room for discussion
people have to be taught the biblical bases of this. At the same time do we have to make parents
aware of the dangers of today’s society. We are very thankful that the Lord has opened the way
of media for us to use to work out our calling. Through our radio station Sahabat FM we have
direct access to peoples living rooms and work floors. People in all levels of society are reached
with the good news, Sahabat FM also hosts dialogs with health experts to educate the people on
important health issues, and raise awareness of the dangers of transmittable diseases,
opportunity is also given for the local people to express their thoughts and opinions on
government issues, church issues and the likes.
The latter has already resulted in several cases of corruption being brought to light. To
approach this “lost generation” the Sahabat team is working on a new program/call in show where our Reformed pastors will speak on different aspects regarding changes in the culture nowadays, and give room for parents and teenagers to call in and discuss and ask questions about the problems they face. Please pray for this new generation and their parents to receive wisdom to deal with all these changes. Please pray as well for the New Hope children that they may receive courage to stand out as children with Hope. Please remember also the work of Sahabat FM, that despite the challenges they face from the secular media, they will not be ashamed of the gospel!
Femmy Dethan - nee Bouwman