Coconut Generation

The Next Generation of Asian Indians

The Silent Exodus of Syrian Christians and the Next Generation from the Indian Immigrant Churches in North America February 9, 2013

Filed under: Culture,Leadership,Ministries,News,Psychology,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 10:39 pm

A recent news report about Christians in Syria in the Christian Post and a seminal article in Christianity Today by my friend Helen Lee over a decade ago, stimulated me to connect some dots and make following two critical observations.

The common phrase between both reports is “silent exodus”, which has generally come to refer to defection of the American born children of immigrants from the immigrant churches in the US. More about it later, but first about ethno-religious cleansing of Christians in  Syria.

The church in Kerala (India) had long historical link with the church in Syria from ancient days and is obvious from thriving Christian communities in Orthodox, Catholic and Reformed traditions in Kerala.  Once Syrian church send their priests and bishops to oversee the growing Christian community in Southwestern India. Many of the Kerala churches still maintain ‘Syrian’ in their names like Malankara Syrian Catholic Church, Syrian Orthodox Church of India, Mar Thoma Syrian Church etc.Many in Kerala claim to have Syrian ancestry as some early Syrian Christians married Malabari Christians and settled in India. Except for few splinter groups, there are no official connection now between the churches in India and Syria, but for the face they are part of the Church of the East..
The ongoing war in Syria has decimated the minority Assyrian Christian community of the East. Many of them fleeing their homeland of their forefathers and historic Christian heritage, much like Christians in Iraq few years ago. The relatively wealthier Christians in Syria are being kidnapped for ransom or raped and killed mercilessly. This 2000 year old history of the Church of the East is being destroyed before our very eyes. The so called Syrian churches of Kerala have a moral obligation and responsibility to come to the aid of Christians in Syria. The Kerala Syrian Church must speak up against atrocities leveled against fellow Christians and the growing persecution of Christians in Syria.
What could Syrian Church in India really do? a) Establish a coalition of Syrian Churches in India and express solidarity with church in Syria, b) Put pressure on Syrian and Arab leaders for protection of all minority groups in Syria,  c) Offer help to the Syrian Christian refugees in the region (Can Kerala or India open doors for these refugees?), d) Indian Syrian Christian diaspora churches could  connect with the Assyrian diaspora churches and explore partnerships to handle this crisis in Syria and e) Indian American Syrian churches must put pressure on American and NATO forces to decisively handle the Syrian crisis and to protect its Christian population.
There is another “silent exodus” happening in diaspora Syrian Christians of Kerala that most seems to be oblivious or not willing to admit. It is the mass exodus of its young from its churches. In the 1970s and 80s, the Kerala immigrants in the West were quick to establish churches in their host countries with links to their respective denominations in Kerala and become bastions of cultural preservation. However, their children who grew in these community churches were quickly assimilated into the Western host culture and ended up losing much language and cultural competency. As they went away to college and got married, they began to drop out of their parents churches in astonishing numbers. Yes, immigrant churches are often viewed as parent’s church, NOT my own. This is true across language, denomination, doctrinal beliefs.or leadership styles.
In recent years, many scholarly researches have come out with studies on children of immigrants in the US and higher levels of assimilation among Asian Indians on account of professional education and higher household incomes. The growing influence of Evangelical groups in college campus and thriving multiethnic, multicultural churches can be obviously seen in a significant sections of immigrant church defectors. Not to mention a sense of disillusionment they feel about immigrant dynamics and unwillingness of the church hierarchy to accommodate changing needs of a new generation.
Youth leaders and pastors in immigrant churches often face a strange dilemma. When some active youth, newly marrieds or ministry leaders stop coming to the church they had grown up in and prefers to go to a local American churches, how would one respond. Whether to make them feel guilty of such eviction and pride in the rich cultural history they areabout to squander or let them find their place in their native land by breaking out of cultural ghetto. Whether allow them to plug where they feel at home and escape the dysfunctionality of ethnic churches, yet knowing that they will never feel the same way about the church no matter where they go.
Moreover most are not prepared to theologically handle churches of different kinds and baggages of having grown up in an Indian immigrant churches. But what is more disturbing to me personally is that majority of second generation who are dropping out are not going anywhere at all –  not their parents church nor any local churches. They are in fact falling through the cracks of cultural disparity and getting  dechurched and lost completely. Sadly, nobody seems to care, neither those who go or those who stay; neither parents nor immigrant church leaders. They simply do not seem to appear on anybody’s radar!
The Kerala Syrian Churches in India and in diaspora have an urgent task at hand engaging the people in silent exodus.
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Abortion – Morally Wrong January 26, 2010

Majority of American view abortion is morally wrong. Yes, you read it right. Almost six out of 10 american are now leaning more toward a pro-life stand. See here for details of Marist poll and the report in citizen’s link.

According to the study, millennials (those 18-29) consider abortion to be “morally wrong” even more (58%) than Baby Boomers (those 45-64) (51%). Generation X (those 30-44) are similar to Millennials (60% see abortion as “morally wrong”). More than 6 in 10 of the Greatest Generation (those 65+) feel the same.

On the eve of the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout the United States, this is an major turnaround. America is turning away from a culture of death to embrace life. After whole generation who fought for the woman’s right to choose, the next generation seems to be swining to the other end.

Why is Abortion morally wrong? Because it is morally wrong to murder a person made in the image and likeness of God. From the moment of conception, an unborn baby is a distinct person made in the image and likeness of God. God forms a person in the womb, not a mass of tissue(non-person). Most defenceless, voiceless being in our society. How can anyone, especially a mother, choose to carry out such a cold-blooded murder and what happens to a nation that can protect its weakest citizens and in fact permits such attrocities to be carried out?

Why is this happening now? Difficult to answer conclusively. But it could be advances in medical imaging technology, and we are now know more about babies in the womb. Also women who had suffered as a result of abortion are speaking up more than ever. Seeing and hearing their stories are making next generation think again. Negative consequences of choice can now be accessed more readily.

Next generation’s moral courage is commendable.

 

Pricetag to Raise a Child September 24, 2009

Filed under: Culture,Family,News,United States — Sam George @ 8:13 pm

A middle-income family can expect to spend $291,570 including inflation to raise a child born in 2008 to adulthood,  This was reported in a new study by the  US department of Agriculture.  It is slight up from the same figure last year. If you have three kids, you will spend nearly a million bucks on them! See this report on Reuters.

The estimate covers food, shelter and other necessities for a child to age 18. The figure does not include the cost of childbirth or college. I also assume it does not incude private schooling or technotools like iPhone or laptops. Last year, the USDA estimated it would cost $269,040 to raise a child born in 2007 to age 18, including inflation. The USDA has made the estimates since 1960, when the estimated cost was $25,300. 

Average Indian American household will spend way more than that for their kids. Indian American household income is the largest among any ethnic groups (also highest educated) and they are keen on spending it on their children. They even save up to pay for the college education and wedding!

The growing cost of childrearing is another reason, families in the west are limiting number of children they are having. More children also mean more cost of raising them, which they do not have. parent become more preoccupied with saving up for their retirement and do not want to keep incurring expenses on their children. No wonder children per household is lagging behind the replacement need of 2.1 per family. Population control policy is imploding on western civilization leading to demographic winter.

 

Suicidal tendency August 19, 2009

Filed under: church,Culture,News,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 10:55 pm

U.S.-born Asian-American women seem to be particularly at risk for suicidal behavior, according to new University of Washington research.  The study shows 15.93 percent of U.S.-born Asian-American women have contemplated suicide in their lifetime, exceeding national estimates of 13.5 percent for all Americans.  (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090817190650.htm)

This is true of coconut generation – girls have higher propensity than boys. When cultural and gender issues collide, crisis becomes acute. It is never as intense as during adolescence. Being a teenager is hard in all cultures, but children of immigrants suffer severly. Children of Asian immigrants particularly suffer where gender bias is adversely stands against women. Thus teen girls growing up in Asian immigrant  dysfunctional homes are more inclined to consider ‘final exit’ more seriously.

So youth ministry in churches, school counselors and parents have a critical role of developing healthy relationships with teens to navigate children thro this difficult stage of life. Modern living makes it harder and we are pushed into isolation. Virtual relationships are not enough either. Teens need trusting real relationship, even when they lack relationship skills to sustain it.

Youth mentoring is powerful. Big brother, big sister program are so effective. Take some young people under your wings. Believe in them. Listen to them. be there for them. Ministry of availability and ministry of presence can make life transforming impact on the lives of teens.

 

Connext Conference in Chicago July 6, 2009

I am very excited about the forthcoming gathering of young South Asian Christian leaders of North America. Last one was in New York in Sept 2007 and we saw great momentum in what happening among South Asians Christians all over the continent. This time, it is going to be in Chicago and I am part of the local organizing team. See details at www.connextonline.org flyer1Focus this year is going to be on leadership development and we have a great line up of leaders as resource people. Theme is Unleashing the Leadership Potential. If you are serving South Asian community in any capacity or would like to, this is a must attend event for you.

Who are South Asians – people from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Maldives and Bhutan. But it is not limited to them, but also those who work with them in some capacity. If you are a pastor, missionary, involved in campus ministry, marketplace leader, businessperson, youth leader, musician/artist, work with a parachurch org, studying in a bible college or seminary or actively serving in some capacity, this is an ideal event to hone your leadership skills.

See website and register early.

 

Deadly Pessimism of the Youth June 30, 2009

Filed under: church,Culture,Family,health,Leadership,News,United States,Youth — Sam George @ 2:35 pm

A  new study has found almost 15 percent of American teens believe they will die before age 35 — a perspective strongly linked to risky behavior. Read the report in Forbes. ALso see NIH findings on Adolescent Mental Health.

Last week, I lost a friend and he was only 30. Recently I was speaking at a youth camp and I was shocked at a their sense of doom awaiting them. They are living with a sense of fear about their uncertain future and dabble with risky behaviors. Such widespread teen pessimism is dangerous to church, society and nation. Economic uncertainity, living under foreign, prevailing media coverage of glooming national scenarios and what not.

The study also found that a teen’s mental state and behavior were mutually influential. A teen who predicted a short lifespan, for instance, during an early interview was more likely to engage in subsequent risky behavior, and teens who engaged in risky behavior throughout the first year of the study were more likely to develop a pessimistic view of their future.

Kids begin to think, there is no point in studying hard, if they cannot find any reasonable job. When they see their parents loose jobs, they doubt their own future. With looming terrorist threats and alerts at airports affects teen psyche more than we think. They take it seriously and begin to see monsters behind every bush.

Will you pump in some optimism to teens around you? They desperately need them.

 

UK: Family breakdown causing social anarchy June 27, 2009

Filed under: Britain (UK),Family,health,News,Youth — Sam George @ 3:11 pm

Last week, I was in UK. As I landed in London and was waiting for a connecting flight to Northern Ireland, I picked up the morning newspapers and was quite surprised at this report “Only Marriage can mend broken Britain” Read it for yourself – BBC, Daily Mail, and also Christian Institute.

Justice Paul Coleridge was addressing the UK parliment and compared ‘meltdown’ in british families with global warming and cancer behind all social evils. He said result of family breakdown would be distastruous to the nation. He even advocated government to do more for the families to end the social anarchy.

He also condemned the ‘pass the partner’ trend in growing prevlance in cities of UK and how such immoral practices would ‘scar children for life.’ When future generation is ‘damaged and emotional disturbed’ as a result of parental neglect, selfishness and abuse, society is sure to pay a heavy price in the years to come. He claimed ‘almost all of society’s social ills can be traced directly to the collapse of familylife.’

Over last few decades, the anti-family policies that Western society has embraced has costed the nations dearly. Generations later somebody seems to get it. When collective good is sunk in favor of individual rights, society will implode. Abraham Lincoln was right – ‘The strength of a nation lies in the strength of its families.’ When families falls apart, so goes community, church and the nation.

Somebody finally seems to have the courage and wisdom to challenge the growing epidemic of broken homes. After being family judge for several years and seeing first hand crisis of modern society, with insight into how it could afffect a nation’s future, he was calling for a change in attitude by the policy makers and seniors leaders of his country. Way to go Justice Coleridge. We need such champions in every nation!