Don’t know if I’m sad or angry

Posted on May 7, 2012


In fact, I’m both. The 16 year old son from a Pacific Island family I know has committed suicide.

Of course, suicide is a problem in every society, but “For some Pacific Islands, suicide is a leading cause of death in youth, and rates have not only reached epidemic proportions but are among the highest in the world.” (Journal of the Polynesian Society 1999 > Volume 108, No. 1 > Gender, power and social change: Youth suicide among Fiji Indians and western Samoans, by Heather Booth, p39-68)

So sad, so very sad. But here’s what makes me angry . . .

Hopelessness is rife among urban youth in the South Pacific Islands, even though they have been raised in church

Young people in the Islands all grow up in church. They attend every Sunday and often during the week as well, yet so many of them are committing suicide. How can this be? It can only be because they have no hope. And they have no hope because their church does not open the Bible and teach them about Jesus Christ (He is our hope). Therefore they have not discovered the love, grace, forgiveness, and peace of God that is theirs through Jesus Christ.

Such deception!

I have heard young people in the Islands (raised in church, I remind you) say they have sinned, asked forgiveness, and then sinned again. Which shows, they say, that God has not forgiven them. They think that if God really had forgiven them, He would magically stop them from sinning again.

Such hopelessness!

If God does not forgive them when He says He does, then (according to this thinking) God is a liar. And there is no hope of escaping from on-going failure, pain and eventual damnation for not being a good enough Christian. Might as well end it all now so we don’t keep adding shame upon shame and sin upon sin – forever adding to the account we must pay when we meet our Great Judge.

May God forgive and enlighten the church leaders who keep their people in such ignorance of His life-giving Word, allowing them to so easily fall prey to Satan’s horrible condemnation.

This is why biblical discipleship is crucial in the Islands.

People need to know without a doubt that God is not a liar. That He fully forgives just like He says he does, and (a very different thing) He is also ready to help us gain victory over our sinful habits. They also need to know that our good behavior and our good feelings mean nothing – that God only accepts us when we rely on the righteous sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, on His Cross. It is a free gift of unfailing love that has been earned already by Jesus and cannot be earned again by us. Grace upon grace. It never runs out no matter how often we sin, or how ashamed we may feel! That is the Gospel!

The young man I write about was raised with all the Christian labels.

His nation, his church and his family are all said to be ‘Christian’ (and his father is a pentecostal pastor). He was dating a Mormon girl. His mother verbally attacked the girl for being a Mormon, which led to the young man’s shame, despair, and suicide.

I cannot imagine the grief and self-blame his parents must be going through. Please pray for the love and grace of Christ for his family. And for his Mormon girl-friend’s family too.

“My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.” (Hosea 4:6a NLT) Please pray the local churches will begin to open their Bibles and learn what God says about sin and grace and righteousness. And please pray for our workers in the Islands as they bring the Gospel to people who religiously serve their church institutions but have little understanding of God’s unconditional mercy and grace through Jesus Christ.

Posted in: Discipleship, Mission