“Namaste, tapaai sanchai hunuhunchha?” (which means “Hello, how are you?” in Nepali.) That is how I would typically greet a Nepali villager I’m meeting for the first time.
“Namaste, ma sanchai chhu. Tapaaiko bihaa bhayo?” is the reply I normally get. (“I’m fine. Are you married?”)
In fact, I get this question about my marital status even from children as young as the age of 9!
Marriage is one of the most important things in life, especially in the remote villages of Nepal. Girls get married from as young as 13 years of age – most of which are arranged marriages. By 18, most of them are married with children.
I was privileged to witness a wedding in a village in Nepal. The day after the wedding, the newly-wed teenage bride said to me, “It’s my first time in my husband’s village and home. I have never been here before. I have never seen my husband’s family. I come from a more developed part of Nepal where my parents have workers to work on their field, we cook on gas and we don’t need to climb mountains like this.” Now, she needs to take over the task of cooking for her husband’s family, feeding the animals, working on the field, doing laundry, climbing mountains to get firewood and other chores. Henceforth, she will only be able to visit her parents during major festive occasions.
In other instances, after marriage, the husband gets a job in another country, leaves his wife with his family and comes back to visit her once a year. She is left with her in-laws and works hard for them and raises her children on her own.
My heart goes out to these girls when I hear their stories. Please pray that married teenage girls in the villages of Nepal will have wisdom to raise up their children and will have the strength and resilience to do hard physical work on the fields. Pray that even in such arranged marriages, there will be love among husbands and wives.
SHERYLN ANG | NEPAL
Recently, we read news about some Indonesians who moved to Syria to join ISIS, many of whom were young people. It got me thinking: why do radical groups target young people? Or rather, why do young people join these groups? Could it be because they fill a need or desire in these young people?
When I was in high school, I used to wonder what my life was about. It started me on a journey to learn new things which I thought could satisfy me. Keyboard today, flute another day. Ushering one day, singing another.
Young people are always on the lookout for new adventures and challenges. Today they study a certain major, a few years later they want to change their major. Today they work on a project, tomorrow they want a bigger project. Today they get a job in a big company, soon they want to work in a bigger company with a higher position. Today they try smoking, next they want to try ecstasy. When will this pursuit be over? Till they find something that can really satisfy them.
The question then is: what can satisfy young people? Ecclesiastes 12:1 tells us it boils down to a relationship with their creator. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them.’” There is nothing wrong with looking and exploring for new things, but if it leads us to things that go against God’s intended purpose for us, we will regret it.
My prayer is that Indonesian young people will know their Maker, know the purpose for which they were created, and not be trapped in the things that will cause them to live their lives in vain.
“I connect with God in my own way.”
“I’m too busy with work and life.”
“I don’t think church is relevant anymore.”
“Church is old school and I just don’t fit in!”
It is true that God is accessible anytime, anywhere. Sometimes church practices can be old school and irrelevant. Juggling work and life can also get in the way. More often than not, we do feel like that odd ball in church who just doesn’t fit in.
Somehow, the church today doesn’t seem relevant to young adult Christians. We don’t feel the need to go to church because it doesn’t seem to be fulfilling our needs. We find other ways to fuel our passion in making a difference and to help us find the meaning in life. Sometimes we find that place outside of the Christian community.
I used to wrestle with God about the role the church plays, its relevance and why worshipping Him can’t be more convenient and fitting for me. I was then made to realize that being at church allows me to bless and serve God’s people and through that, grow in my relationship with Him. I realized that we may not always find like-minded people who do all the right things, especially at church but growing with God also means struggling and growing together with one another.
Malaysia is going through a season of change and many of us in this generation yearn to be the change for our nation and want to make a difference. But not many of us Christians would acknowledge the need to get down on our knees to pray for our nation as a church. We’re too busy with our own lives. We want to be used by God in mighty ways but only in ways that are convenient for us.
I pray for a deep realization among young adult Christians of the importance of being part of a church community to serve, be held accountable and grow together no matter how uncomfortable and inconvenient our circumstances may be. May we come together in prayer with the power of God, because it is then where God will move mountains and bring change for our country.
MELISSA TAN | MALAYSIA
PHOTO BY SARA LAI
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