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Help Fight Poverty

One Child at a Time

Valentine’s Day

FICTION

5

Guys

Answer Your

Questions

No Boyfriend? 51 Reasons Why It’s OK

Discipleship. Relationships. Self-image. and clean fun. For teen girls ages 12-15.

M

focus on the family’s

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FEBrUARY 2009

7

Steps for a Smooth Shave


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Jesus Loves by Martha Krienke

the Little Children A trip to Uganda, Africa, showed me that compassion is for everybody—whether the giver or receiver.

I

became a parent when I was 16. (Well, not really.) But I did get a child. (No, not like that!) I got a Compassion child through becoming a sponsor. I made this choice at a conference with my youth group the summer before my junior year of high school. After a tear-jerking video at a concert, Rebecca St. James gave a short plug for the program: “If you give $24 dollars a month, you can help a child in poverty.” I felt a knot in my stomach. I thought, My needs have always been met. What excuse do I have to say no? God’s prompting in my heart was very clear. So to ease my conscience (and get a free CD!), I decided to go for it. I remember approaching the Compassion International booth and trying to decide which country I would choose. India? Haiti? Philippines? I finally settled on Ethiopia. TV programs were always saying how poor and hungry people were in Africa, so that seemed like a logical choice. Then I had to decide which boy or girl I wanted. I overheard other people looking for a child with the same birthday or a cute smile. I scanned the packets, looking for someone similar to me, but there weren’t many little African blonds available! So I chose a girl with the most beautiful big brown eyes. Her name was Bezayehu Feleke, born Oct. 14, 1989. I’m not sure how or why I thought I could afford to be a sponsor with my minimum wage as a grocery store clerk, but I trusted that God would somehow provide. And He has! Bezayehu is now 19 years old.

>>>

Above: Bezayehu Feleke was 8 years old when I began sponsoring her in 1998. Now she’s nearly done with school! Right: I first heard about Compassion while attending a conference with my youth group.

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In desperation, Memory’s mom brought her to a Compassion project. Being accepted into the program brought Memory so much joy, she told me. Compassion provided her with the money to attend school, the opportunity to learn about Jesus’ love for her, a safe place to play with other children and a hot meal. She said some days she’d even sneak food home to share with her younger sisters. During the following year, Memory’s mom also died, so she and her sisters moved in with their aunt. Yet despite these painful circumstances, Memory excelled in school and grew in her love for Christ. She says her two sponsors, Jim Lewis and Sandy Thompson, loved her like their own child and gave her hope through their frequent letters. Now Memory’s earning an undergraduate degree through Compassion’s Leadership Development Program and is discovering how God has gifted her to make a difference. Hearing Memory’s story, I couldn’t help but think of Bezayehu just a couple countries away and who is close in age to Memory. Had she ever felt as though I loved her like my own child? Does she know me by name? I’ll get back to those thoughts in a minute, but first, there’s another person I want to tell you about.

With My Own Eyes Nearly 11 years ago, I heard about Compassion for the first time, and my heart broke. The idea of “releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name” sounded like a good idea, even biblical. Now after a trip to Uganda with this organization, I’ve seen that it’s a good idea—for children AND their sponsors. For example, let me tell you about a 19-year-old girl named Memory. Memory is a first-year student at Uganda Christian University, where she’s studying social work and administration. As we talked, she sounded like any other college freshman: She’s learning to get along with her roommate. She looks forward to visiting her family on break. She wants to finish her studies before getting into a serious relationship. But her childhood was nothing I could relate to. Memory’s dad died when she was 9 years old. Her mom was pregnant at the time and later gave birth to a son. But he died of pneumonia before his first birthday. Memory’s mom slipped deeper into depression and kept Memory and her two younger sisters at home, away from any church involvement. Memory describes that time as feeling trapped like a slave, and she often went to bed having had no food that day. 22

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Orphan and Widow Joseph is 9 years old and currently sponsored through Compassion. His dad is dead, and his mom has HIV. Joseph, his mom and two other siblings live in a three-room home. Not three-bedroom. Three-room. The four of them share two single beds that, thanks to Compassion, are both covered with mosquito nets to protect them from malaria. When I visited their home, they showed me their bathroom— basically four walls around a hole in the ground. I saw their kitchen where they cook over an open fire. Inside their home, the concrete floor was covered with plastic. They had a few pieces of artwork on the walls, but the one that stood out was hanging on a thin piece of yarn on a nail near the front door. It was a picture of Joseph’s sponsor—a person they had probably never met, may never meet, but someone who still means the world to this family. Before we left Joseph’s home, his mom gave me a


PHO T O GRA PHY JIM S CHER E R , CO U R TES Y OF COMPASSION INTE R NATIONAL

wall hanging that says, “We’re so happy and blessed to have you in our home. Be blessed.” (Then it says “feel at Jesus.” I’m not sure what that means.) But did you catch that last part? “Be blessed.” Now wait a minute—I thought the purpose of sponsoring a child was to bless others with food and an education. How can I be blessed? Why Poverty? I have to tell you that while it was great to see the work of Compassion in give Compassion your checking or savings account Uganda, I couldn’t help but also wonder why does God allow poverty in number, and they’ll take the money out automatithe first place? If He can feed 5,000 with five loaves and two fish, why are cally every month. The hard part, and the thing I hadn’t realized was so important, is building that little African girls like Memory going to bed without food? The problem with that question is that it assumes God is NOT at one-on-one relationship as sponsor and child. I’ll be honest and say work in these situations and has somehow forgotten the poor. most of the time over The fact is He hasn’t forgotten! He’s using His body of believers How to Help the past 11 years I’ve been disappointed in to love and care for other people right now! What about you? Do you want to join God’s Bezayehu’s average scores in school, and writIf I learned anything in Africa it’s that you and I have been work of caring for ing her letters is just another thing on my toblessed in order to be a blessing. Giving $32 a month is part others both physically and spiritually? One do list. But now I’m beginning to understand of it, but, even more way you can do that is that maybe caring for the orphan and widow important, it’s being through help to adopt an entire village in is about more than food and shelter. Could it an encouragement Guatemala. You’ll even be yet another way for Christ to form me to be and agent of hope for have the chance to meet your child when more like Him? To see others as He sees them? another person whom you participate in the To feel and show compassion just as He has God cherishes. 2009 Never the Same missions trip. For more already done for me? To me, giving information about That’s something I’d happily sign up for money is the easy sponsorship, go to briomag.com/compassion. again—with or without a free CD.  part. You can even

february 2009

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51 Solo Reasons It’s OK to Be

Bummed because it feels like you’re the only one without a guy on Valentine’s Day? Don’t be! 26

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1 You’re more open to trying new things when you’re flying solo. Try guitar lessons, sign up for a pottery class, join a ♥

Bible study.

2

There’s more

time for others when you’re not sold out on one guy. Hang out with your family, visit

3

You can eat an artichoke-and-onion pizza and not have to worry about impressing anyone with your breath. 4 Concentration exists. Your mind is completely clued in to your homework, your weekend job, your chores and, most important (drum roll, please), your relationship with God! 5 You can wear your favorite pair of heels as much as you want! Who cares if you’re taller than all the guys in your class? 6 When you’re not in Coupleville, it’s easier to avoid stuff God would never be too thrilled with—like feelings of jealousy and lust. 7 You’ve got your ahead of you. Why rush into things? Just ‘cause every other girl you know has a boyfriend? Come on! Who really wants to be just like everybody else, anyway? 8 No worrying about what to give him on his birthday, Christmas and anniversaries. 9 No worrying about whether his buds like you. 10 No worrying about whether his parents like you. 11 Basically, just fewer worries. 12 If you ever held back in Foosball, people in nursing homes, shovel snow off your neighbor’s driveway.

whole life

Guitar Hero, Ping-Pong or grades just to make a guy feel good, you don’t have to any more. Let your full potential soar! 14 Got a zit on your forehead? Who cares? 15 No special guy means no special breakups. You get to avoid the crazy roller coaster so many others have gotten a bit queasy on. 16 knows you as you, not so-and-so’s other half. 17 When you’re happy being single, you’re able to set high standards for the kind of guy you’d like to go out with someday. 18 Your room’s a lot less cluttered. There just aren’t as many things to save when a guy’s not around. 19 The is all yours now. (And his backwash is long gone.)

Everybody ♥

20

Diet Coke

Telling the truth is much easier. Without a guy you’ll never hear yourself saying anything like, “Yeah, I live for

monster trucks,” “I’d love to go hunting with you this weekend,” or “Sure, the corner convenience store sounds like a great place to eat.” 21 ♥ No more straining to read between the lines to figure out

what he’s really saying. 22

Hitting the

mall with your girlfriends is tons better than with a boy, ‘cause they’re more

You can rent chick flicks as often as you want. 24 The dough you would have spent on little gifts for him can go toward something important, such likely to understand why it takes you forever to decide between lilac and sky-blue nail polish. 23

Compassion child in Guatemala. 25 Instead of listening to his band play at the local coffee shop, you and the girls can start your own band! 26 You know, sometimes boys have a not-so-great smell. 27 You have plenty of opportunities to catch as the little gifts for your sponsored

up on some bonding

time with your mom or sister or long-lost friend from camp. 28 You finally have a chance to fill your diary ♥

29

♥ You get to spend time watching “7th with stuff other than him—you know, dreams, goals, answers to prayer. Heaven” reruns. 30 ♥ Bored without a boyfriend? No need to be! Try creating your own board game. Hey, it was probably a

always

woman without a guy who created “Candy Land” and “Sorry!” 31 ♥ You’ve loved fairy tales, nursery rhymes and limericks? Now you can write your own children’s book! What are you waiting for? Get cranking! 32 ♥ When something cracks you up, like a great joke or a hilarious movie scene, you can and not have to be embarrassed about it.

laugh so hard that you snort 33 You don’t have to deal with someone who’s jealous when you’re friendly to other guys. 34 You can make personal Valentine cards for your gal pals without worrying about what kind of card to give a guy. 35 You ♥

get the entire couch, bucket of popcorn and remote control to yourself. 37 ♥ Don’t feel like wash♥ Finally! You have an opportunity to really get involved in church. ing your today? Who cares? Consider out in the nursery, teaching the kindergarten Sunday school class or visiting a senior citizen who hasn’t been able to attend in a while. 39 ♥ single day of spring break can be spent with the girls, and you don’t have to feel guilty about leaving him out. 40 ♥ No need to revolve your summer plans around him. God has BIG plans for you! Hey, maybe you’ll head to sunny Guatemala on ♥ No need to a life-changing missions adventure! 41 ♥ Still don’t wanna wash your hair today? Then don’t! explain why a brownie topped with chocolate ice cream, doused in chocolate chips and hot fudge served with a cup of hot chocolate is a great lunch. 43 ♥ ♥ You’re free to wear the jacket of without feeling like you should be wearing his. 45 ♥ There are enough things in life to say no to without having to deal with a guy who’s pressuring you to get a little more personal than you want. 46 ♥ You can start your Christmas shopping early! Hey, in one month all the winter stuff will be 60 percent off! ♥ You’ll probably have fewer all-around mortifying moments since you’re not spending time with someone you really want to impress. 48 ♥ Tired of the same ol’ same ol’ TV sitcoms? Why not create your own? 49 ♥ No more having to share half of your Twix. You can eat both candy bars yourself. (Two for me. None ♥ Have you been to the library lately? There are rows and rows of books there that’ll pique your infor you.) terest and send your mind and imagination into the lives of people from past and present. Find out more about other cool such as Amy Carmichael and Corrie ten Boom. 51 ♥ Nothing’s more than a confident single gal who truly loves Jesus and feels secure in who He’s created her to be!  february 2009 ❉ briomag.com 27

hair helping

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Every

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You can hum the tune that keeps floating around in your head without feeling self-conscious. 44 your choice

PH O TO S ISTO C K PHOTO

47

50

single women

attractive


The Myth of

Invinci

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ibility

by Trevor Williams

Death? Eternal separation? Eternal LIFE?

These truths seemed foreign to me. After all, I was nearly 16 and had my whole life ahead of me. Then I came face to face with reality.

I

n the fall of 2000, my sophomore year of high school looked promising. Junior varsity baseball was on the horizon, and the indignity of freshman year was behind me. I would turn 16 in October, meaning that I’d only have to endure a few months of embarrassment while riding with my friend’s big brother to school. In our school’s dirt-and-gravel lot, social politics determined the parking hierarchy. Athletes took the areas near the gym, and I was anxious to claim my own territory. I had a pickup truck but couldn’t drive it alone yet. My mom and I had bought the burgundy Chevrolet with some inheritance money. Now it sat in my driveway, waiting for the state of Georgia to turn me loose. Besides the three seats across the front, the extended cab S-10 pickup had the fold-down kiddy variety in the back. Soon, I’d be the one carting hapless freshmen and sophomores around. Besides plotting how we could use it to haul materials for unsavory pranks against our cross-town rival, I really didn’t have renegade plans for the truck. Even as a teenager my rebellious streak was small, more like a dot really. But for me, just like everybody else my age, the car represented an exciting new beginning. It would inaugurate a shift in the dynamics of responsibility in my home and kick-start the journey toward adulthood. Mom would still wield authority and impose limits, but I’d no longer be bound to her set of wheels. As all those with learner’s licenses felt, this was the first leg on a long race that passes through college and eventually leads to complete independence.

>>>

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First the Car, Then the Girl When the school year started, most folks were more concerned about making the grade on the social scene than in the classroom. The balance in popularity shifted weekly with each sophomore that gained a coveted driver’s license. The nicer the car, the quicker their star would rise. Two of my friends had September birthdays, a few weeks before mine. John, one of my best friends, went to a school across town. That didn’t help me much during the week, but on the two Fridays between his birthday and mine, I planned to make the most of his brand new Mitsubishi. I saw Michele, another friend, every day in high school. We had chemistry together but only the class. We’d grown apart since our first sparks flew in elementary school. Michele lived down the street from John in those days, and I always had a major crush on her. For two years we played the awkward game of grade-school romance, passing notes in the hallway and sending emissaries across the playground. It wasn’t until eighth grade that I got my chance to officially “date” her. Of course, that simply meant that we’d spend hours on the phone and hold hands at parties. I guess those were a step up from notes and playground diplomacy. But apparently I wasn’t a good talker or hand-holder, because she dumped me after what in middle school terms was considered a lengthy relationship: two weeks. I harbored no hard feelings. Maybe I was holding out hope that she’d give me another shot. Maybe I knew it wasn’t meant to be. Either way, we had a cordial friendship as we started our second year of high school. Michele didn’t need anything to add to her popularity. She was already the best-looking girl in the sophomore class and probably the entire school. Because she was nice, she’d be polite to guys. Because I knew that she was just acting nice, I could tell they didn’t have a chance. Michele’s defining feature was her smile. She had the straightest, whitest teeth of anyone I knew, and she grinned easily and often. Her smile, paired with deep eyes and sandy-blonde hair, could captivate even at a glance. She turned 16 on Sept. 18, and gaining her driver’s license a month after school began just gave her even more social capital. Good Times Gone Bad On a Friday night, some people from school were headed to the outskirts of our city for a party. I had other plans. My calls to John had hit the jackpot, and he invited me to take a ride. On the surface, we planned a trip to the movies, but this was more an excuse than a true destination. For five raucous guys who had played baseball together for years, this was a rite of passage, a move past the threshold that once separated boyhood and manhood. On our way home, we soaked up the moment, joking loudly and blaring music in John’s new CD player. The fact that we were exceeding the legal limit for passengers riding with a 16-year-old driver was far from our minds. Then the phone rang. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket 34

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to answer, practically shouting over the music. It was Kelly, my girlfriend at the time, and despite the background noise in the car, I could hear the anxiety in her voice. Someone we knew had been in a serious car accident, but we didn’t yet know whom. Sad to ruin the party, I relayed the sobering news to the guys, and we rode to John’s house to gather more information. His parents knew no more than we did, so we formed an odd little silent congregation in their bedroom, suspended between tragedy and relief that hinged on the news of the accident. The phone rang. No one moved except John’s mom, who walked over to pick it up. “It’s for you, John,” she said, gesturing with the phone toward him. The next moment still feels like a dream. I can see the scene unfolding in my head, like a movie clip unraveling in slow motion. The voice on the other end of that line would determine whether we stayed entranced in this vortex or if we could relax into our earlier exuberance. John pressed his ear to the receiver. His face went blank. A simple “No” was all he could muster. He lowered the phone lifelessly, as if some force had attacked his spirit and sucked out his emotions. He croaked two words: “Michele’s dead.” Reality Check Worst fears confirmed, I stumbled out into the driveway. The shiny maroon paint on John’s car showed a streaked reflection of the subdivision streetlights and the moon and stars beyond. Moments before, that car was a symbol of adolescent freedom and achievement, a four-wheeled ticket to the intoxication that came with controlling our own destiny. Now it seemed more like a dirty accomplice, guilty by its association with the hunk of metal that sealed Michele’s fate. I felt almost betrayed by these cars and the ideals they represented. They had validated the invincibility we felt as youngsters. They had sold us the lie that we had control over our lives and futures. But the accident exposed Michele’s car as the first impostor, a purveyor of a freedom that it couldn’t truly provide. The tears I shed in the driveway were obligatory, not felt. I knew I should be sad, but the impact of John’s solemn words was still too fresh for our minds to process. How could we understand in a few short minutes that the girl who brightened our chemistry class would no longer resist immature guys in the back row? How could I wrap my head around the fact that a beautiful girl whose hand I once held was now without life? In that moment, leaning against a car I now despised, I cried not for an emotion I was experiencing but because I subconsciously realized that when Michele ran that stop sign, an irreparable hole was ripped into our lives. Painful Truth That night, I prayed for Michele’s family. I knew her parents and brother, and I couldn’t imagine the pain they were experiencing. I thought about how it must exceed in severity the sick, empty feel-


PHO T O GR A PH Y D AVE HILL

Then guilt went for the knockout: Could I have prevented her eternal suffering by sharing with her about my relationship with Jesus? In light of this storm raging within me, I didn’t do well at the visitation. The whole setup was a horrible reminder of the impermanence of life and the uncertainty of existence. I don’t remember explicitly thinking about God’s redemptive plan as I viewed Michele’s body, but as I cried again I felt a strong sense that this isn’t meant to be. What had been a young, vibrant human body was now lifeless, devoid of the spirit that infused it with warmth and life. There was a stronger-than-usual sense that death and the pain it brings are symptoms of a fallen world, not the Creator’s intentions or indifference.

ing in my gut. I cringed at their loss and asked for God’s comfort, honestly wondering if even He could provide any solace in this tragic situation. I’m not sure whether it was through prayer or a painful moment of clarity, but focusing on God brought me to another petrifying realization: Through all the years I had known Michele, I had never taken the time to find out if she was a Christian. My heart’s reaction to this truth twisted the already painful ordeal into an emotional spell more potent than I could’ve imagined. Fear entered the ring first, pummeling me with a combination of blows aimed right at my weakness. Could this girl that I cared so much about be entering an eternal separation with God?

Joyful Truth Thankfully, even death isn’t beyond the redemptive power of God. I dragged myself, along with my heavy loads of guilt and pain, to Michele’s funeral at a large church. The contemporary auditorium had deep-red carpet on the floor and upholstered seats, which were more like movie theater chairs than pews. The place was packed and silent as the pastor confronted the congregation with a truth that Michele’s death made clear: Life is like a warm breath into cold air, visible for a moment and then gone. With his next words, the pastor showered my heart with a wave of relief. Michele, he said, had trusted Jesus as her Savior during her time in the church’s youth group. Grief and guilt subsided, but my spirit was restless. The Holy Spirit was working on my heart, instilling a purer but equally painful feeling: conviction. Without condemnation but with force, He reminded me that death is inevitable but indifference is not and that missed opportunities for evangelism don’t always end happily. I still don’t know why God chose to take Michele, but in His vast, cosmic purposes for this event, He set aside a small lesson for me. To honor Michele’s memory and His commands, I must throw lifelines to those who don’t believe. We never know when our last day—or theirs—will come.  Trevor Williams tries to savor each day—and never misses an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus Christ.

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A

Friend In Need by Margot Starbuck

How do you react when your friends need your support?

ave you ever not known what to say when a friend was in trouble? It H can be hard to know how to care for your friends when they’re hurting. Take this quiz to rate your responses when you have a friend in need.

1

You’re walking into the movie theater when a friend trips and falls on her face in front of a bunch of kids you know. You a. s  toop down, brush her off and help her up. b. keep walking and act like you’ve never seen her before in your life. c. laugh and ask, “Walk much?”

2

Your best friend auditioned to be in a musical and didn’t make the cut. You a. tell her that those directors didn’t know their stage left from their stage right and that not choosing her is their loss! b. try to avoid her until she forgets about it. c. let your friend know that you share her disappointment and encourage her to go out for the next show.

3

18

The guy your friend likes asked another girl to go out with him. You a. invite the new girlfriend over to your house because her brother’s really cute. b. call the guy and tell him that he

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january 2009

should really reconsider because your friend is totally awesome. c. let your friend know that you think it stinks, too, and remind her how special she is to you.

4

Your older sister failed the test to get her driving permit. Twice. You a. promise to drive her anywhere she needs to go when you get your license in two years. b. call all her friends to let them know she failed—two times! (You try not to laugh, but it slips out.) c. r  ecognize that it’s a really big disappointment and tell her you’re sorry.

5

A teammate from the basketball team broke her leg skiing. She’s crushed that she can’t finish the season. You a. remind her, “No pain, no gain” and encourage her to try to play with the cast on. b. spend extra time with her on the weekends and provide Sharpies for the whole team to sign her cast. c. suggest that she consider taking up competitive chess.

6

Your little brother tells you that he’s totally bummed he bombed his math test. You a. try to cheer him up by offering him your glow-in-the-dark pencil case that he admired. b. t  ell him to act like a real man and get over it. c. let him talk about it and tell him how you broke the news to your parents the last time you flunked a big test.

7

Your friend interviewed for a summer job as a kennel technician with a local veterinarian but didn’t get it. You a. tell her it’s a little funny that she’s not qualified to scoop poop. b. a  ssure her that your dad knows another vet with whom she might work. c. let her know you care about her situation by telling her, “I’m so sorry.”

8

Your friend called you to let you know her grandmother just died. You a. let her know you’re coming over to her house to hang out and hear more about her grandmother’s life. b. tell your friend it’s really probably all for the best since she was so old anyway. c. let the answering machine pick it up because death really creeps you out.


Scoring

10

On the way home from soccer practice your friend confides in you that her parents are getting a divorce. You a. remind her that divorce is a sin and offer to e-mail her the Bible verse when you get home. b. pretend you didn’t hear her because you have no idea what to say or do. c. hug her, let her cry on your shoulder and offer to help her find a Christian counselor. (You might even let a few tears flow, too.) 

4. a=2, b=1, c=3 5. a=2, b=3, c=1

6. a=2, b=1, c=3 7. a=1, b=2, c=3 8. a=3, b=2, c=1

9. a=1, b=3, c=2 10. a=1, b=2, c=3

10-16 points:

When a friend’s going through something tough, it can be hard to know how to respond. The easiest thing to do is to ignore your friend and her problem. It may be easier for you, but a true friend sticks close—especially when it’s hard. The next time a friend comes to you with a problem, resist the temptation to judge her or to bail on her.

17-23 points:

You have a heart to care for your friends, but sometimes your mouth gets in the way. Don’t worry about having the right thing to say; your friends don’t need you to give them all the right answers. (That takes some pressure off, huh?) They also don’t need you to try to make it all better, which you probably can’t do, anyway. Your friends will be most blessed by your being there for them and listening to their concerns.

24-30 points:

You sound like the kind of girl who weeps with those who weep and rejoices with those who rejoice. When you reflect your friends’ genuine fear, anger or sadness, you show them what the Father’s face is like—kind of like Jesus did. Your friends are also blessed as you make yourself vulnerable enough to share some of your own disappointments. Because true friendship is about giving and receiving, the friends you love well today will be there for you when you need them.

ILLUS T R A T IO N T U ESD AY MOR NING , S H A NN O N ASS O CIA TES

9

Your friend got sent to the principal’s office for cheating on a science test. You a. tell her that you can no longer be friends with a cheater-pants. b. let her know you’re disappointed and offer to help her study for the next test. c. suggest other sneakier ways to cheat so that she won’t get caught next time.

1. a=3, b=1, c=2 2. a=2, b=1, c=3 3. a=1, b=2, c=3

Margot Starbuck is there for her friends in her hometown of Durham, N.C.

january 2009

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Part one of a four-part series

Thou Shalt Be

Equally

Y ked

by Ben Young and Sam Adams

The Missionary Relationship Jennifer was involved in the youth group at her church. She was class president and an honor student as well. One Sunday her youth pastor was talking about the importance of viewing her campus as a mission field. In

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hasty conviction to begin reaching her nonChristian peers, Jennifer dropped her Christian friends and started hanging out with everyone she could find outside her faith. Pretty soon, she began dating a non-Christian guy whom she hoped to eventually convert to her faith and save from his “sinful” lifestyle. Though Jennifer’s intentions were good in hanging out with non-Christians, she caved without the support of her Christian friends and started doing what her new friends, particularly her new boyfriend, were doing. Jennifer is a “missionary” dater because she rationalized the need to stay in that relationship in order to bring the other person to her faith. Her focus was to get this person to jump through religious hoops and buy into her belief system. Girls are especially vulnerable to this kind of relationship, because guys will do anything (yes, anything!) to impress a girl. If a guy needs to walk an aisle, get baptized, speak in tongues, bark, laugh or even lick the lint out of Buddha’s belly button, he’ll do it just to keep the girl. Furthermore, when emotions and hormones enter the picture, all the rules change. A sincere young woman who simply wants to win a young man to Christ may find herself emotionally attached and find it very difficult to remove herself from this relationship. Missionary relationships come in all shapes and sizes. However, the common denominator is the need to justify the relationship on evangelistic grounds. The “logic” behind this approach is disturbing. For starters, how

crazy to think that you can establish a healthy relationship with someone on the basis of a hidden agenda! Does it strike you as slightly dishonest and unfair to deceive another person like this? Unsurprisingly, after you’ve hung on to these dead-end relationships, it’s even more difficult for you to break it off in the end. The bottom line is that when there’s spiritual or religious incompatibility, you need to get out. It’s too difficult to judge the sincerity of one’s spiritual quest when the emotions of love and romance are involved. Missionary relationships simply don’t work. The Equally Yoked Relationship A relationship, by definition, is the connecting of people. Therefore, to have a successful close friendship with the opposite sex, you must connect on many levels. This is what we call an EYR: Equally Yoked Relationship. Perhaps you’ve been in relationships where there was a partial connection—you connect on one or two levels, but you sense that something is missing. To truly connect with another person, you must be more than just attracted to each other; you must connect on spiritual and social levels as well. We’ll discuss the spiritual connection next month, and we’ll also take a peek at another unequally yoked relationship looks like: The Mother Teresa Relationship.  Adapted from The 10 Commandments of Dating by Ben Young and Sam Adams. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Copyright 2004. Used with permission.

P H O T O GR APH Y B EN D E R IEN ZO

T

hough the “opposites attract” relationship works great on the big screen, in reality it’s extremely difficult to pull off. While it’s true that opposites do attract sometimes, the healthiest relationships are those in which the similarities far outweigh the differences. There’s a passage in the Bible that exhorts Christians not to be yoked with nonChristians. A yoke was a strong wooden bar that was placed around the necks of oxen. This bar was then connected to a plow. The trick was to yoke together two oxen of equal strength so they could move forward to plow a field in a straight line. Unequally yoked oxen would simply move around in circles because they were incompatible. The Bible uses this metaphor to warn believers of the dangers of being “yoked” together with unbelievers—two people who are ultimately headed in opposite directions. In a similar fashion, we aim to warn you of the dangers of dating someone with vast differences. During the next few issues, we’ll discuss a variety of unequally yoked relationships: The Missionary Relationship, The Mother Teresa Relationship, The Sugar Daddy Relationship, The Eminem Relationship.


To read more . . . The 10 Commandments of Dating by Ben Young and Sam Adams

Item Code: P00176B Suggested Donation in U.S.: $10 Order online at resoures.family.org or call 800-232-6459 Canadian price: $8.50 plus tax Order online at fotf.ca or call 800-661-9800

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Part two of a four-part series

Thou Shalt Be

Equally

Y ked

Recap: We’re discussing a variety of unequally yoked relationships: The Missionary Relationship, The Mother Teresa Relationship, The Sugar Daddy Relationship, The Eminem Relationship. Last month we talked about the pitfalls of the missionary relationship—dating someone to win him to Christ—and how an unequally yoked relationship simply doesn’t work. This month we’ll cover another unequally yoked relationship as well as the spiritual connection that’s present in a great relationship. The Mother Teresa Relationship Mother Teresa was one of the most respected and saintly women of all time. Her mission statement was simple: love and comfort the sick and dying in the streets of Calcutta, India. She was annually listed as one of the most admired women of the world. Tragically, some women have adopted this mission statement for their relationships with the opposite sex. They attach themselves to guys who are losers and who care only about themselves. Against all odds, they attempt to love, comfort and take care of that guy in an effort to help him out. This is what we call a “Mother Teresa Relationship”: a well-meaning person plays mommy to someone who needs to grow up and get a life. Lori is a classic case of someone who got into a Mother Teresa relationship. Lori had a crush on a cute basketball player who never gave her the time of day. When she saw he was struggling in their senior physics class, she offered to help him with his homework and preparation for tests. Desperate to pass the class, Brian agreed to study with her. And thus began a strange relationship in which Brian would be nice to Lori when they studied together but ignore her when they were around other people. Lori kept meeting with him, thinking he’d eventually start to like her and appreciate

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what she was doing for him. He never did. Lori finally told Brian he could do his own work, but only after months of being taken advantage of and used. We could cite case after case of individuals who have wasted time and energy on someone they thought they could rescue from failing in school, getting in trouble with authorities or, worse yet, drug addiction, alcoholism or sex addiction. After being warned of the dangers of this kind of relationship, one misguided Mother Teresa-type said, “I have enough love for both of us.” Is This YOU? If you have a tendency to attract and hang on to needy people in order to “love” them out of a situation, then you need to ask yourself why. Why are you drawn to these types? Why do you think you have the ability to change this person? You’re called to be an equal partner in a relationship, not a shrink, surrogate parent, missionary or nurse. Mother Teresa relationships may seem exciting and challenging at first, but after all the futile attempts to rehabilitate a sick person, they usually end in great disappointment and disillusionment. If this describes you, we suggest you get grounded. Find your security and stability in God through a relationship with Christ. The Equally Yoked Relationship If you can’t connect with someone on a spiritual level, your relationship is headed for disaster. What you believe about God, how you pray, where you worship, the holidays you celebrate, the books you hold to be sacred and your opinion on baptism are just a few components that make up your spiritual belief system. Your spirituality and how that’s expressed is the most intense and intimate

part of you. From a Christian perspective, you should date only Christians. There is no exception. Everyone thinks, But my relationship is different. Trust us, it’s not. Or they say, “But we’re just dating. It’s not like I’m going to marry him.” Remember, you’ll eventually marry someone you date—you might as well start making good decisions now. (Not to mention the fact that your chief purpose for dating at this point is to establish healthy patterns of relating to the opposite sex.) If you could just listen to the tales of relational carnage that we hear from married couples trying to keep it together as they vehemently oppose each other on an issue that stems from their deeply held religious convictions, you’d avoid such a dating relationship. Choose wisely, starting now! Of course, only God knows who’s a real Christian and who isn’t, but He does lay down some guidelines to help you discern if the person you’re going out with is a genuine Christian. • Personal testimony. Someone who knows Christ will be able to point to a certain time in life when he personally trusted Him as Lord and Savior. A Christian makes a conscious decision to repent of sin and to trust and follow Christ. • Changed lifestyle. A Christian seeks to live according to the principles set forth in the Bible. Believers attend church and desire to hang out with other Christians. If you’re a Christian, make sure that your date has had a genuine encounter with Christ and, as a result, has a changed life. You’ll be glad you did.  Adapted from The 10 Commandments of Dating by Ben Young and Sam Adams. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Copyright 2004. Used with permission.

P H O T O GR APH Y B EN D E R IEN ZO

by Ben Young and Sam Adams


To read more . . . The 10 Commandments of Dating by Ben Young and Sam Adams

Item Code: P00176B Suggested Donation in U.S.: $10 Order online at resoures.family.org or call 800-232-6459 Canadian price: $8.50 plus tax Order online at fotf.ca or call 800-661-9800

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It’s hard to articulate your beliefs about abortion when everyone around you buys into the lies of the world. It’s tough . . . but it’s not impossible! by Susie Shellenberger

W

e hear you. And we care! Many of you have asked us how to articulate God’s truth on a variety of topics when everyone around you is arguing a secular worldview. We want to equip you with the right stuff! There’s actually a fancy name for it: Apologetics. It’s means knowing what you believe, why you believe it and being able to verbalize it. We want to make it as easy as possible for you. So we’re going to present this in script form. We’ll give you the arguments that your classmates or friends may be verbalizing, and we’ll show you how to counter that with a solid response.

Argument: Abortion must be legal because women have a “right to privacy.” Your response: A recognized right to privacy doesn’t mean that anything goes. What you do in the privacy of your own home, for instance, is wrong if you’re abusing a child, operating a prostitution ring or selling illegal drugs. Likewise, a woman’s “right to privacy” doesn’t grant her the authority to end the life of a living human being, in this case her preborn child. Legal abortion assumes that a woman will have to choose between her needs and her baby’s, and that doesn’t have to be the case. Placing the child’s right to life in competition with a woman’s right to privacy is a no-win for both mother and child.

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Argument: Abortion helps women who face an unexpected or difficult pregnancy.

2 Argument: The preborn baby is not a living human being. Therefore, abortion is acceptable. Your response: Basic biology blows this argument out of the water. A human embryo or fetus is, well . . . human. A member of the homo sapiens species and the offspring of, well . . . humans. No one with a fundamental knowledge of human biology can argue against this with any credibility. If the baby is not a living human, why does a doctor who’s treating a pregnant woman have two patients? If the preborn are not human, why do 37 states and the federal government have laws charging two counts of murder when a pregnant woman and her baby are killed?

Your response: When you think of the situations in which abortion is most frequently considered, you see that abortion ends the pregnancy but doesn’t necessarily solve the underlying problem. Economically disadvantaged women are still economically disadvantaged. A woman who was sexually assaulted still must confront the trauma of that experience. Abortion can also create health and psychological problems that didn’t exist before, including difficulty becoming pregnant again in the future, depression, substance abuse and suicide.

Argument: A woman has a right to control her own body. Therefore, she can decide to abort a fetus. Your response: A baby is not part of a woman’s body. It has its own genetic code, blood type and immune system.

Argument: Abortion should be legal because women have a “right to choose.” Your response: Abortion advocates created the slogan, “right to choose” to take attention away from what abortion does—destroys a living, growing human life. It’s funny that they never finish the sentence: A woman has a right to choose WHAT? To choose to end the life of her preborn child. All sorts of laws prevent one human from harming another (murder, rape, assault); that’s the basis of a civilized society. Abortion isn’t a civilized response to an unexpected pregnancy.

Argument: Even if I’m personally against abortion, it’s wrong for me to impose my views or my morality on someone else who supports abortion.

Your response: It might surprise you to know that the number of illegal abortion deaths before legalization in 1973 was exaggerated, and for political reasons. Early abortion advocates admit this was the case. The number of illegal abortion deaths dropped drastically, not with the advent of legal abortion, but with the development of antibiotics.

Argument: A preborn child is merely another part of the woman’s body. Therefore, abortion is acceptable. Argument: Abortion should be allowed when a woman is sexually assaulted. She shouldn’t be forced to live with a reminder of this crime. Your response: Yes, rape is a terrible crime and assault, but abortion is also an assault against the woman and her child. How is it just for an innocent child to pay with her life for the crimes of her father?

Your response: Again, basic biology begs to differ. A young human growing in her mother’s womb has a completely unique genetic code and may have a different blood type. If the human is male, he has a different gender.

ILLUS TR A T IO N ISTO C K PHOTO

Argument: If abortion is outlawed, women will turn to dangerous illegal abortions as they did before abortion was legalized. So women will die.

Your response: Every law represents someone’s morality. Laws against drowning crying infants represent near-universal standards of morality and civility. The preborn child is a member of the human family and as such deserves a chance to be born and thrive, just like you and me.

Argument: The preborn may be a human, but not a “person” with feelings and thoughts. Therefore, abortion is not killing a person. Your response: The notion of “person” or personhood is a philosophical concept. Let’s stick to the hard, cold biological fact that the offspring of humans are human. 

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PRIVATE

conversation.

This is a

by Susie Shellenberger


INC.

ART,

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//

STEV ENSO N

G R EG

january 2009

BY

ILLUS T R A T I O N

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Reprinted by permission. Girl Talk With God by Susie Shellenberger, 2001, Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, Tenn.  All rights reserved.

Canadian price: $10.99 plus tax Order online at fotf.ca or call 800-661-9800

Suggested Donation in U.S.: $11 Order online at resoures.family.org or call 800-232-6459

Item Code: PD407

Girl Talk With God by Susie Shellenberger

To read more . . .


Name: Nickname: What do you be lie important resp ve is your most onsibility as a fa ther? Name one thing most people do about you. n’t “get”

What’s your favo rite thing in your closet?

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spend a day at home?

What is your fa vorite song to sin g live? january 2009

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P H O TO G R APH Y LEE STEFFEN

How do you like to

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