Below are the reflections of Global Health Team member, Eric Peak, after co-leading the launch of the Young Men’s Club at a a recent Health Summit in India.
I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” -Philippians 4:13
On September 30th, Chip Paulson, a translator, and I gathered in a Salvation Army dormitory with 25 VisionTrust India (VTI) male leaders from all over Southern India to begin a discussion focused on young men’s health in VisionTrust programs.
Our Global Health Team and the local VisionTrust team had seen great progress in their Young Women’s Club, and hoped the same could work for VTI’s growing population of adolescent males.
“What if the language barrier, or the discussion topics are too much, and our questions are met with silence?” Chip and I wondered. We even planned ahead and had some of the VTI leaders available with planned out answers to get the ball rolling. However, as is turned out, we underestimated their readiness and enthusiasm.
Ideas and suggestions started pouring out from all over the room in various languages. These gentlemen were ready to tackle this growing need, and helped us brainstorm the areas of concerns that needed to be addressed. Some of the common young men’s health issues included, but are not limited to: alcohol abuse, pornography, pre-marital sex, suicide, lack of appropriate male role models, and physical abuse. These are very similar to issues that many American adolescents face.
While these leaders face numerous challenges within the hidden culture of Christianity in India, Merwin (the VTI Local Hero) challenged them with this:
“There is a way, and you must find it.”
This will not be easy, and it will not be a one size fits all model. Each Learning Center is unique in the issues it must address, and I cannot wait to see where they take the conversation from here.
If the past is any predictor with this group, then I have no doubt that they are up to the challenge and will emerge victorious.