The Indian Christian community has been facing some unprecedented challenges in the past couple of years. Agape Partners International (API) was approached by many families, churches, and organizations for providing resources to deal with some of these problems. Even though there has been numerous efforts have to help out those in need in many ways, the problems are getting more complex as days pass. API sponsored a consultation on January 18, 2009 at First Church of God, as we approach another year with conferences, conventions and camps, to openly discuss the critical issues of our community and possible solutions. This event was an informal gathering of a selected group of concerned men and women of God who are doing ministry or are interested in helping young people and families in various capacities. The purpose of the meeting was to create an environment where attendees could learn from one another's experience.

The participants of the consultation represented people from diverse background including Social Workers, Psychiatrist, Chaplain, Counselors, ministers, other leaders representing various churches such as AG, Church of God and IPC, and other organizations such, PYFA, Parivar International, Redeemed Music, NextGen, YWAM, and Agape Partners International.

Major Challenges of the Community

·         Relationship Issues:-There is a very powerful agenda in the media lobby to influence the society especially young people with the intent of ‘normalizing’ previously deemed ‘abnormal’ practices such as homosexuality. Removal of ‘homosexuality’ from deviant behaviors from DSM–IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is a major example. Acculturation or Cultural Assimilation has led to an erosion values in the Indian Christian Community which is also cited as another reason:-

o    Cohabitation before and In lieu of Marriage

o    Uncontrolled Dating

o    Interfaith marriage

o    Sexual Relationships outside the boundaries of marriage

o    Homo and bi sexual behavior

o    Marital conflicts, separation and Divorce

o    Domestic Violence and Abuse

 

·         Church Issues

o    Weak churches – Lack of resources to deal with problems faced by the members

o    Shallow Spirituality – Lack of consistent and powerful teaching of God’s word in the churches

 

·         Individual Issues

o    Internet Addiction – Pornography, Unrestricted chatting leading to sexual perversion

o    Drinking and Drug Use

o    Gang Involvements

o    Unrestricted Spending

 

 

 

Analysis of the Problems

·         Family is the basic institution for the development of any individual – Families have failed to instill the values and transmit them effectively to the younger generation

o    Communication between parents and children does not take place effectively

o    Parents do not prepare children about appropriate relationships – The values are not instilled early enough

o    Children often cross boundaries impulsively (immature behavior)

o    Commitment is often given to ‘partners’ prior to communicating to parents and praying about their ‘choice’

o    There is no awareness that marriage involves ‘two families’ and not ‘two people’ especially in the Indian community

o    There is relatively very poor awareness among parents about ‘acculturation and assimilation’

·         The failure of the ‘church’ in helping ‘families’

o    Pastors do not speak openly about above stated problems

o    There are no trained ‘people’ in churches to deal with such problems

o    Services are ‘program’ oriented and ritualistic and not geared towards proactive measures or solutions to problems

Proposed Solutions and Available Resources

·         Churches must emphasize having ‘trained counselors’

·         Pre marital and marital counseling must take priority in the coming days in the church agenda

·         ‘Topical’ messages and ‘contextual’ Bible study series are essential

·         Church infrastructure must be changed to gear its focus towards ‘spiritual growth’ of young people (Peer groups, informal awareness gatherings etc)

·         Retreats and other Informal gatherings to help parents to deal with ‘needs’ and ‘problems’ in a practical way

·         Churches must provide ‘support’ (financially, emotionally …..) for young people to come up in ministry with a focus to deal with the problems of the ‘now generation’

·         Transform programs and services of churches with a focus to build a ‘relationship’ and ‘trust’. Young people and parents must have confidence in ministers that they are ‘capable’ of helping them solve their problems without breaching the principles of confidentiality.

 

Immediate Course of Action

The gathering unanimously agreed to have a joint venture of a one day training of Pastors, Ministers and Youth Leaders

·         Focus will be on the most crucial problems of the community and possible solutions

o    Creating an awareness of the felt needs

o    Review resources available in the community

o    Discuss and strategize reinforcement of the institutions of family and church

o    Develop practical measures for adequate pre marital and marital counseling

o    Change church environment to a place of ‘equipping’ and ‘discipling’

·         PYFA and Citywide Pastors Fellowship will take initiative in coordinating the event with support from local organizations such as ICPF, Parivar International, Redeemed, PYPA, Regional church fellowships etc.

·         Agape Partners International will provide the needed resources as well as identify resource persons for the seminar, presentation materials etc.

·         A joint letter signed by the PYFA President and Pastors Itty Abraham and Wilson Jose will be sent to all churches regarding the initiative ASAP.

·         More details of the proposed plan of action will be discussed via conference calls and e-mails after the joint letter is sent out.

 

For information, please contact:

Leslie Verghese, 917-669-0275 lverghese@agapepartners.org

Thomas Idiculla, 781-223-0082  tidiculla@agapepartners.org

Agape Partners International www.agapepartners.org