Wed | Jul 18, 2018

'Facebook friends negatively influence our youth'

Published:Saturday | March 11, 2017 | 12:04 AMOrantes Moore
Harifa Atkinson, True Missionary Church of God Missionaries national youth director.


Dozens of children, teenagers, and young adults travelled to Lucky Hill, St Mary, recently for a motivational one-day youth convention at the True Missionary Church of God Missionaries (TMCoG).

According to the organisation's national youth director, Harifa Atkinson, the convention, which ran under the theme "Is it in you to live above the influence?", aims to inform and inspire young people grappling with problems such as peer pressure and low self-esteem.

She told Family and Religion: "We've noticed that our young people struggle with a lot of issues that prevent them from growing spiritually and being focused on Jesus and doing His will. We want to highlight some of these distractions and help them to move on and avoid them so they don't take their focus from Jesus. We're also giving them recommendations on how not to yield to the temptations that are out there.

"Functions like these are important because we have more than one church, and so we want to fellowship, meet as a family, sit, eat, and socialise. Secondly, we want to ensure that our people are well-rounded, spiritual, and understand the word, so when we meet like this, we try to put special things in place for them to learn more about the word of Jesus and how to demonstrate it in this world.

Atkinson, whose favourite scripture is 'For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7),'believes that negative influence from real and Facebook friends is the biggest issue facing young people today.

"They want to be in the clique where everybody sees them," she explained. "They want to think, look, dress, and be on par with what the rest of the world is doing and not be different. So part of this event is to show them that they have to be different.

"Being different is a good thing because it builds self-esteem. It helps people become more confident in who they are and to understand the word of God says that we are created in God's own image, and we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Genesis 1:27 and Psalm 139:14).

"That should really help them to understand that if you're different, it's OK. As our guest speaker, youth, and communications specialist, Tameka Hill told them: "You must be trendsetters, the person who is influential, so people will want to follow you."

She added: "Today has been awesome. The word was amazing. Everyone is excited, and persons are identifying the things and issues that are affecting them. Most of the people in the youth department are primary, high school, and university students, but there are even people who have backslidden here today, and you can see they have been impacted by the word."