Suriname (IBS/MNN) ― Being young in Suriname isn't easy. A staggering 70% of the people in that country live below the poverty line. Unemployment is high for youth, with over a fifth of the population aged 15-24 years without work.
Government programs have helped drop the HIV/AIDS rates, but teen pregnancies remain an issue. As 10% of all teen girls have babies during their school years, this means the lack of education perpetuates the cycle of poverty, substance abuse, and the family unit breakdown.
Although the main religion is Christianity, many people can't afford their own Bible. Besides Christianity, old beliefs in ancestor spirits are also strong. Often these two belief systems are mixed, frequently resulting in teens having a distorted view of the message of Scripture.
Without a Bible of their own, they are unable to study Scripture for themselves. Fortunately, schools are open to evangelistic activities, making it possible to teach young people Scripture and biblical messages related to sexual education.
Biblica in the Netherlands has translated the Reach4Life New Testament in Dutch--the only official language in the Netherlands and the main language in Suriname. This New Testament contains many studies on life issues for young people, promoting sexual abstinence and sharing biblical principles in practical ways.
Over 200 church leaders have been trained to use Reach4Life in classroom settings. The first edition has been used in Brokopondo as part of the sexual education program. The proof, so the saying goes, is "in the pudding." According to Biblica's ministry partners, there are reports of a drop in teen pregnancies in Suriname among those participating in the Reach4Life program.
The hunger for Scripture and education on life issues is evident: partnering organizations have requested another 15,000 Reach4Life New Testaments to hand out to Suriname teens.
The ministry is hoping to raise enough to reach another 15,000 teens with the Gospel and promote a safe and healthy lifestyle for them. Expansion of the program to the Dutch Antilles will soon also take place.