Minister of Family, Culture, Sports, and Youth, Stephen Lashley, delivering his address at the Caribbean Union Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists’ Ninth Bible Boom Contest Finals. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??

The church must not shirk away from tackling societal issues for fear of becoming unpopular among some people.

Minister of Family, Culture, Sports, and Youth, Stephen Lashley, gave this advice last evening while delivering the feature address at the Caribbean Union Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists’ Ninth Bible Boom Contest Finals at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.

Mr. Lashley told his audience: "Your guidance and interventions remain very relevant, particularly for our young people, as we negotiate the onslaught of new technologies and social media, economic hardships and a seeming decline in our moral standing.

"We must hold firm to our moral standards for they are the rock upon which Barbados and our Caribbean nations are built."

He said he was heartened to see the church playing a definitive role as an active, caring, member of society, ensuring that the messages of love, respect, honesty, sharing and selfless service were constantly dispensed to everyone.

He continued: "This is certainly the role of the church in today’s society, where young people have so many distractions, some good, [and] some bad, but at the end of the day, needing firm guidance, not only from parents and guardians, but from institutions such as the church."

The Bible Boom Contest brings together young people from 10 Caribbean conferences to expose them to biblical, moral and inspirational writings, while challenging them to extract and practice positive values in their everyday life.

Mr. Lashley lauded the programme, stating that such projects would help to support Government’s own youth development initiatives.?? "It goes beyond reading the bible and listening to their teachers; it provides the opportunity for participants to literally discover themselves and learn from their own diverse experience. It offers our bright, inquisitive minds the opportunity to bring their thoughts and understanding to the table. It also gives them the opportunity to grow in confidence and share their beliefs.

"Mr. Chairman, this is what our young people need more than ever today. They face some challenges that you and I never had to face because our childhood and teenage years were not as global as theirs are today. And, while we welcome our global

neighbours, we must still keep what is intrinsic to us as a people, because the loss of identity and purpose will result in the decay of our Caribbean nations," he opined.

He stressed, however, that because the youth faced different challenges, they should not be an excuse for laziness or finding someone else to blame. "We too, faced challenges of a different kind, but we were taught by our parents how to struggle and survive without breaking the law or engaging in reckless or anti-social behaviour," he declared.

Over the next two days, the young people will engage in a number of activities and there will be dramatic presentation entitled Prisoner of God.


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