Ministering in our Second Home: Singapore

The Generations of Virtue team is currently “on the road” in the Eastern hemisphere, basing ourselves in Singapore as we travel around the region to minister. Countries checked off our list so far are: Singapore, Indonesia and Australia. We left the States toward the end of January and plan to stay another couple months on this side of the globe.

This is the 7th time Generations of Virtue has traveled to Singapore to minister (we started coming in 2007). This trip, we will be ministering at Covenant Evangelical Free Church, St. James St. Margaret’s Church, Hope Singapore, Paya Lebar Methodist Church, and various other home groups, schools, and gatherings. On the docket for events, we’ve got parenting seminars, youth sessions, and even a sprinkling of children’s sessions lined up. We’re glad to be able to base ourselves in such a strategic and hospitable culture.

Julie Hiramine, the founder of Generations of Virtue, first came to Singapore in 1990, and after visiting several times, God gave Singapore a special place in her heart. Singapore has become like a second home to our team (much to our surprise – it’s a far cry from our slower-paced, mountain-graced Colorado home). Not only do we have our favorite local food stalls (called “hawkers”) all mapped out, can navigate the city with ease via public transport, and have consumed more bubble tea than is likely healthy, we now have many Singaporean friends who have become kindred spirits. Some of our sweetest times of fellowship have take place here. The church is vibrant and active in this small nation, and much like our group, has a heart for evangelism and missions.

Not only has our team been welcomed with open arms, we also have a group of moms in Singapore who share our vision and heart for parents and who hold events during the months we are not in-country. We call this group GOV advocates, and they are a truly wonderful group of dedicated believers. Their heart is to help the parents of Singapore by providing resources and seminars and by facilitating Raising a Pure Generation small group studies. Our team is so thankful for the gift they are to our ministry!

Author: Courtney Alberson

Courtney is Generation of Virtue’s lead solutions specialist. Which is a fancy way of saying she handles the team’s many IT needs and spends a lot of time in Photoshop. When she’s not finding solutions to problems, Courtney enjoys communicating God’s truth about love and relationships to teenagers and…drinking coffee.

Leaving a Legacy for Generations

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew – the “founding father” of Singapore – has passed away. Our team sits in silence for a moment as we observe the loss of a very important man of history. What Lee Kuan Yew (with the help of others) was able to accomplish in 50 short years in Singapore is enough to cause anyone to consider the profound impact one life can have on many.

As we prayed about coming to Singapore this year, our team thought about the spiritual significance of being here during Singapore’s 50th anniversary – their year of Jubilee. According to Leviticus, in the Jubilee year we should “proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his ancestral possession [which through poverty he was compelled to sell], and each of you shall return to his family [from whom he was separated in bond service].” (Lev. 25:10). Perhaps it is appropriate Mr. Lee Kuan Yew was gathered to his fathers in this year of Jubilee. He has served the nation well, and now he gets to go home.

Our team has also heard numerous people refer to this city-nation as the Antioch of Asia. A lot of Christians here believe God has poured His favor on Singapore so that it can be a blessing and help facilitate the spread of the Gospel to the surrounding nations of southeast Asia. Whether he realized it or not, God certainly used Mr. Lee Kuan Yew to build a nation that would be able to answer that call. To our team, Singapore feels like Antioch to us as we base ourselves here (and minister here a lot) while we make trips out to other nations in the region. When we return to Singapore, we feel like we’re coming home.

After expressing our condolences to our advocates (a group of dedicated Singaporean moms who run our operations here year-round), they made the following comments. We wanted to post them because they speak so eloquently of the gratitude Singaporeans feel for Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and to God’s sovereignty, which has truly blessed this nation.

We are all full of gratitude for all that we have and can do with the leadership of one man in this nation.  God is certainly doing a greater work now through the believers in Christ & also through the unbelievers too… As I prepare for my BSF study on God’s call for Moses to speak to the Pharaoh to let His people go, I’m  seeing how God can use a humble , insignificant believer, Moses, through the hard-hearted Pharaoh to accomplish His great plan…We shall not focus so much on the crisis but to remember God’s promises to His people.

- Doreen Hong

Thank you for sharing our loss. It is significant that you [the GOV team] are here in Singapore at this time too. 

LKY’s departure in the year of Jubilee saddens so many of us, yet I know our sovereign Lord has a reason to take him away at this time. Instead of focusing on just the success of the nation and basking in the celebration, this event is making us take a good hard look at our past and have a deeper appreciation (both young and old) for the 50 years of nation building, be thankful for where we are now and to strengthen our resolve to build a Lion City that truly roars with truth and righteousness for our Lord! 

Last Saturday, I just attended Prof Thio Li Ann’s talk that highlighted to us the significance of Singapore’s Jubilee. How in being separated from Malaysia 50 years ago, God has given us religious freedom in our constitution.  And I was in awe how God blessed our island by giving us a leader, though not Christian, ultimately can accomplish God’s purpose for us as a nation and fulfill our destiny as the ‘Antioch’ of Asia.

- Sook Neo

Another friend of a friend had this insight: “Singapore achieved greatness in one generation, because of God’s goodness and grace to Mr. Lee and to us.”

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Please join with us in praying for Singapore as it grieves the loss of its first prime minister and a truly courageous man. Our team believes God has awesome things in store for Singapore, and we feel very privileged to minister here.

Author: Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.

Parents Struggle, Too

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It happened at a church in Singapore. Our Generations of Virtue team was ministering to a group of teenagers and their parents when we had a very important revelation. We spent most of the time split – holding separate sessions for teens and parents – but one session we had both groups together. This is a session we call “Cinderella Lied”; we show movies to talk about the lies coming through our culture (more often than not, perpetuated by Hollywood).

There is a skit we use to show the effect believing lies can have on a person. We have a team member role play as an average teenager who spends a little too much time playing video games, is a little too sensitive to negative peer pressure, and is generally desperate to fit in. This team member slowly gets wrap up as he or she starts to internalize the different lies coming from different sources – the words of friends or peers, things seen on the internet, messages coming through their phones, scenes from movies, etc. The audience sees how a seemingly benign thought like “I didn’t do so well on that last test, but all my friends did” can turn into “Maybe I’m stupid.” Or “I don’t look like that actor in the movie. Am I fat?” The skit comes to a climax when the team member is handed a Bible and learns to replace the lies he or she has internalized with the truth of God’s word. Truths such as “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” “I was created by God for a purpose, and that purpose is good. I may need to work a little on my chemistry tests, but that doesn’t mean I’m stupid.” As the team member replaces the lies with the truth, the lies are cut off until he or she is free once again.

It was after we had done this session for parents and their teens at that church in Singapore that it dawned on us – parents struggle with lies, too. In fact, perhaps their struggle against lies is as great as their child’s struggle. One parent came up to a couple of our team members after the session, deeply touched by the message of being able to find freedom from the lies. This lady shared how she suddenly realized she had believed she was too stupid to be able to monitor the things her child was involved in online.  The parent-teen session on lies helped her see this, and then our session just for the parents on technology had helped her see there were several things she could do to monitor this part of her child’s world. She thanked us profusely; we were just glad to be of help.

This is a big one for parents – a lot of lies seem to trap them in the realm of technology. They feel overwhelmed by the demands of their child’s ever-changing technology-driven world, a world very different from the one they grew up in. It feels a little like trying to stand on shifting sand.

This revelation caused us to incorporate a new section into our seminars for parents: Lies parents believe. As we thought about all the people we’ve talked to and all the stories we heard, we realized the list is long for parents. And diverse. But the good news is that God’s word can free us from any lie we have believed.

Author: Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.

Generations of Virtue Seminars For School Children In South Africa

You have a purpose. You have a future. God has given you everything you need to fulfill your calling. These are words not every South African child hears. But if they attended one of Generations of Virtue seminars for school children (held at various locations across Pretoria and Cape Town in October and November, 2014), they heard it. They heard these things, and also other points to encourage them to pursue their God-given dreams and use the training available to them to learn and grow. As the children, some as young as 6 and some as old as 18, sat listening to “the team from America” (a Generations of Virtue group in our teens, 20s and 30s), they learned about famous people throughout history from diverse backgrounds who were able to fulfill their life’s mission, simply by using the opportunities given to them (however limited they may have been) and refusing to give into the enemy’s lies that tried to hold them back.

While the Generations of Virtue team shared truth with the children, they also warned them to avoid the lies of the enemy.  Lies like, “You’ll never amount to anything. You’re not rich enough, smart enough, good-looking enough, etc. to pursue your dreams. You are not enough, and God isn’t either.” These lies, if believed, can cause children to turn to high-risk behavior as a means to cope with their pain.  More often than not, they don’t know how to go to God or an authority figure with their problems. They may not know there is another option besides following the cycle of drugs, premarital sex, brokenness, and poverty (both physical and spiritual) they see their peers following. This is precisely why the Generations of Virtue team revels in every chance to speak to children – even young children – about God’s perfect ways and the reasons He gives us guidelines.

The goal of each session, whether we are talking to children about their futures, teens about relationships and sexuality, or parents about raising their children, is to help the audience see that God is good and He is faithful, and He can be trusted. God doesn’t want to steal our fun or place so many rules on us we can’t follow, but instead He wants us to have the most fun, experience the most joy, and enjoy His unadulterated pleasures. That’s not a message every child expects to hear when our team comes, but that is the one they get.

Author:  Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.

4 Reasons You MUST Talk to Your Kids about 50 Shades

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With the 50 Shades of Grey movie releasing soon (a worldwide release date of 13 February), our culture is ablaze with controversy and debate over sexual issues once again. But this one is a little different than controversies of the past. 50 Shades takes pornography – particularly a violent and abusive form of sex – and glorifies it. People (women in particular) are falling for it on an alarming scale. Even Christians are succumbing to the enticement of 50 Shades. In short, it, and the topic of BDSM, is in our faces now like never before.

“BDSM is an acronym for Bondage, Dominance, Sadism, and Masochism. In psychiatry, the terms sadism and masochism describe a personality type characterized by a person deriving pleasure and gratification from inflicting physical pain and humiliation. The terms specifically refer to one who either enjoys giving pain (sadist) or one who enjoys receiving pain (masochist).” This definition is from Pulling Back the Shades by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery.

And guess what: It’s going to have consequences on your children and how they view sex. The more our team has ministered this year, speaking to parents and teens in various nations, we have come to the conclusion that parents HAVE to talk to their children about 50 Shades. As in yesterday. Here’s why:

 

1. Your kids are curious

It would be unfair and naive of parents to assume their teens haven’t noticed the 50 Shades phenomenon. It is literally everywhere. And with the movie releasing before Valentine’s Day, the hype has only increased. If your teenager doesn’t know what the plot is about already, I guarantee he or she is curious. Use this to your advantage, parents. Answer their questions, let them know they’re not alone if they don’t know what BDSM is, and communicate your willingness to help them understand.

2. If you don’t, someone else will

Where do your kids turn when they have questions about sex? Do they know they can come to you? If they don’t feel like they can come to you, your kids will turn elsewhere to have their questions answered. What kind of information will they find on Google or from their peers? I realize I probably just scared the pants off of you with that question. Take a deep breath, mom and dad. It’s going to be ok. But you do have reason to be concerned here. The only way to guarantee your kids get the right message about 50 Shades is if you craft that message. Despite popular opinion, parents are the BEST people to talk to teenagers about sexual issues. I promise you. All the research done on the subject and our experience in ministry – both with parents and teens – attests to this statement. You are it, mom and dad. Don’t miss your God-given chance. (Also – if your palms are sweating at the idea of having to come up with a conversation about 50 Shades, don’t panic. I’ve included some links below to articles and videos you can use to educate yourself and also share with your teens. You are not alone and you don’t have to re-invent the wheel, either!)

3. It’s an excellent opportunity

Parents, if you feel like you’ve missed the boat on talking to your teen about sex, now’s your chance. I know it may seem odd to view the situation this way, but trust me – another ship has arrived and you need to jump on it! The issue of sex and abusive relationships is in our face in a huge way right now. Our team is claiming this promise from scripture over the 50 Shades phenomenon: what the enemy intended for evil, God is going to use for good (Genesis 50:20). Seriously – all the hype over 50 Shades could potentially turn into a huge blessing in the way of parents talking to their teens – perhaps for the first time – about sex, and more importantly, communicating God’s perspective on sex.

4. This is just the beginning

I have a sinking feeling that the 50 Shades phenomenon is just the beginning of abusive sexual relationships and erotica going mainstream and becoming more and more culturally acceptable. I hope and pray this is not the case, but if history is any indication, I fear we have a very big battle ahead of us on yet another sexual issue culture is trying to push the envelope on. Don’t miss your chance to talk to your teenager about healthy, life-giving sexuality. The best antidote to the enemy’s view of sex so prevalent in our culture is to communicate regularly to our teenagers God’s view of sex and marriage. The truth is God designed our sexuality to bring life, to honor Him, and to fulfill His purpose in us. He did not design it to be harmful or only pleasurable for one party. Furthermore, God’s view of sex is not anything we should be embarrassed of or fearful about. We should feel the freedom to talk about it with our teenagers and not let the enemy silence us on this very important topic.

So where do you start?

Listed below are videos and articles our team has found very helpful to educate yourself, and perhaps even share with your teens as you talk about this issue:

 

- 50 things you should know about 50 shades video by Covenant Eyes (great video for parents to educate themselves on the topics the book brings up).

 

-  4 Lies about Sexuality in 50 Shades of Grey video by Covenant Eyes (we recommend watching this one yourself first and then watching it with your teen).

 

- Parent Survival Guide to 50 Shades of Grey (5 part blog series) by psychiatrist Miriam Grossman MD. Her blogs will give you the information you need to address this topic with wisdom, while also inspiring you to use it as an opportunity to communicate about healthy sexuality in general. You might consider sharing some of the information she brings with your teen.

 

- Pulling Back the Shades by Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery – Dannah and Juli have written an excellent resource for women on the topic of erotica. We highly recommend it for mothers and young women who have tussled with things like 50 Shades, or know friends who have.

 

- Will You See Mr. Grey? blog post by Dannah Gresh – Dannah has written some excellent blog posts on the topic of erotica and 50 Shades and even has an entire website dedicated to the topic.

 

Author:  Megan Briggs

Megan joined the Generations of Virtue team to become the Product Manager, a position which keeps her busy researching, reading resources, managing inventory and speaking to young people.

The 10 Habits of Highly Successful Parents of Teens: Day 5

9. They give their teens the desire to be married. For some this is easy – for others, this could be one of the hardest things to impart to your teens. But why this is so important, is because your teens have been observing your marriage/attitude about marriage their entire lives. Does that give them a desire to be married? Maybe your marriage isn’t quite where you wish it was. Or maybe you are a single parent. Regardless of where your marriage is, if you want your teens to grow up, get married and be happy with their choice, it’s important for you to stay positive about marriage NOW, while they are still in your home. We’ve seen so many early 20-somethings with such a negative view on marriage, because of the way their parents talked about being married. But on the flip side, we’ve also seen some of the most healthy, joyful, perspectives on marriage come from the 20-somethings whose parents stayed positive about the sanctity of marriage, regardless of their own marital situation. So the key here is: stay positive!

10. They work themselves out of a job! These are the parents who intentionally parent with the viewpoint that their beloved children will soon be adults. So they teach them responsibility, money management, time management, constant talks about romance and relationship standards, hearing from and obeying God’s voice, respect, and much, much more. The goal of these parents is to produce responsible adults, who by the time they leave home, are no longer absolutely dependent on mom and dad.

I know this list is by no means complete. However, this list has come from talking with, ministering to, and observing countless parents around the world for the last 8 years.

What about you? Do you have anything to add to our list? I’d LOVE to hear from you!

The 10 Habits of Highly Successful Parents of Teens: Day 4

7. They listen to their teen’s opinion. Sometimes we as parents are so intent on making sure our teens understand our family values, we do all the talking and forget to listen to what they have to say. This is huge! Let them feel like they have a voice in your home. We’ve found that when teenagers don’t feel like their parents “hear” them, they go elsewhere to be heard. Unfortunately, many of us have seen teens find listeners in the wrong crowd – and sometimes the consequences are great. Join the countless awesome parents we know, and become a listener!

8. They teach them media discernment. Why can’t they watch that movie? Why is that music off limits? Why aren’t they allowed to go to that website? Remember that your teens will very possibly leave home within the next 7 years for school, marriage, etc. What will they do when they are suddenly “free”? When they are allowed to choose the media they intake, will they choose wisely? Teach your teens WHY you have the rules you do. Let them study it. Encourage them to research the negative effects on things such as violent video games. Help them to own the same convictions you do for themselves.

Be sure and check back tomorrow for our last two Habits of Highly Successful Parents of Teens!