Today, as a community of believers, we are confronted with issues which many Indian parents in the past have preferred to avoid. Despite all of our achievements in education, careers, missionary activities and church, I should say we’re in a mess. We lack love and unity. Yes, we have a crisis today, our families are pitching and rolling like ships on a stormy sea. I am anxious to shed light on why that crisis exists and where the family is headed.
Consider Gaetan Dugas, who best represents the promiscuous and antitraditional spirit of the past years. Social scientists studying the early spread of the HIV virus, speculate that Dugas was probably one of the first to bring the virus into North America. When public health officials told him to stop his dangerous and unhealthy behavior, Dugas is alleged to have reacted with anger and shouted, "It’s my right to do what I want to do with my own body." "My right," "my body," "do what I want" – this is the new trinity of the modern age. No one is supposed to "judge" anyone else. But we are slowly learning that "private" acts have public consequences.
Who would have ever imagined just a few years ago that our families would be afflicted by alcoholism, drugs, pre-marital sex, school dropouts, church dropouts, runaways, cohabitation, separation, and divorce. Consider the results of a teenage survey conducted in 1995 among the participants of the Pentecostal Conference of North American Keralites. A vast majority of Keralite youths believe that the church is not having a positive influence on them. One-third of the teenagers said that they were not satisfied with their family environment, and 43% of the teenagers had problems with their parents. We need to understand the source of the conflicts - cultural or spiritual, Keralite culture or American culture. The true dichotomy is, on one side are those who defend family, faith, and traditional values. On the other side are those who reject any hint of tradition or religion and want a community based on secular principles. But we need to accept the truth that these two value systems cannot co-exist. And the one that survives will control the hearts and minds of our young generation.
Although most parents regard family as their most satisfying aspect of life, they also regard it as their most frustrating! Many Keralite parents know their kids are in danger. They know that drugs, value-free education, youth suicide, crime, and homosexuality are all taking their toll, but they may not comprehend what has gone wrong or know what to do about it. These anxieties, largely unseen but a potent force nonetheless, cause tension, disagreements, difficult relations, and countless arguments over trivialities.
"Does God care about my family and children? Where can I go for help?" The first step in finding answers is to admit that we have a problem. That sounds like simple advice but it is very important. We have to be honest with ourselves and with God. Second, we need to use God given resources - Pastors and Counselors. And, we need to turn to God for help. God has promised He will not give us any burden that is too heavy to bear. We are His children. He will never let us walk alone. He will always be near us and he has promised to take away our fears when we look to Him and admit that we need His help. When our families seem to be falling apart it is difficult to realize God is there and that ultimately He is in control. But we will never overcome our problems by our own abilities, we have to rely on Him.
Our only hope as a community of believers, ultimately, is to ask the Father to forgive our sins and heal our families, churches, and community. He blessed our parents and brought us into this great land. If we trace the life and faith of our parents they revered the Lord and looked to Him for strength and wisdom. Today we need to cling to the same source of confidence and hope. Yes, our families are pitching and rolling like ships on a stormy sea. But I believe that we can sail once again into the safe harbor of peace and harmony. We must appeal to Him who promised in the concluding words of the Old Testament, "He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers" (Malachi 4:6).