As the Assistant Coordinator for Momentum Youth Conference I manage our social media and see a lot of posts from youth on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Recently I’ve found teenagers posting, “like for tbh and rate.” I had to look it up to know what it meant and found that tbh is an acronym for “to be honest” and rate is a way to scale people between one and ten on their looks (but sometimes also on their personality.) When you use the acronym tbh, you can then comment whatever you want to say about somebody. In the commenter’s eyes, it’s ok to either tell them something gushingly wonderful or truly hurtful because really… you’re only being honest.
I am convinced that it is harder to be a Christian teenager now more than ever before. With the buzz of social media, the way that sex sells in marketing, the image our culture has given popular celebrities, and the everyday invention of new things like sexting, our students of today are working in an uphill battle to follow Jesus. I understand that all Christians are in an uphill battle to follow Jesus and we fight against sin every day no matter what our age, however, when I was in high school (which was not that long ago) we didn’t have twitter at our fingertips, we didn’t pass around photos on Instagram, and there sure wasn’t a cyber-rating system we could publicly appear in.
In Haiti, while twitter and Instagram aren’t readily accessible or largely used (although I have seen Facebook start to make an appearance where possible) there is still a strong need for youth to understand absolute truth, where their identity comes from, and to be guided in purity.
Even though the social media craze doesn’t always cross cultures, the social pressures, social norms, and need for truth does. Last month, Grace Community Church from Canada took the opportunity to speak about the sanctity of marriage in a church service and they gave a seminar to the community they partner with about purity. The reality is that teenage pregnancy and pregnancy outside of marriage is prevalent in Haiti.
One reason for this problem is that men and women don’t think that they can afford to get married, or that they need to have more of a substantial lifestyle before they can get married. Pastor Sawatsky spoke to this issue about what you need to get married and what it means for purity if you’re not married. It was an extremely effective sermon and was exactly what the village’s partnering Pastor asked the team to speak about.
Just like teens in America need to be pointed towards truth when it comes to purity, social media, etc, teens and young adults in Haiti need to be pointed to the truth of Scripture about these very same topics. I’m grateful that churches have chosen to partner with villages and people in Haiti to point them towards the Gospel and not only focus on their physical needs, but also their spiritual needs.
Erin Cooper is the CPR-3 Communications Director and also the Assistant Coordinator for Momentum Youth Conference.