‘Abstinence’ was the only message of the workshop ‘No Apologies: the Truth about Life, Love and Sex’ that was held from the 10th to the 11th March, in MAJODI Centre, Johor Bahru. No Apologies® is a character based curriculum by Focus on the Family that helps young people make wise choices regarding high-risk behaviour, including sexual involvement before marriage.
A total of 156 youths from the South Johor district participated in the workshops which were run in different languages concurrently: English, Mandarin and Bahasa Malaysia with the Mandarin group being the largest. Among the many speakers were John and Lily, Dominic Yong, Bernard Chew, Eugene Wong, Andrew & Christina Chew, Sr. Evelin, Sr. Jaslia, Anita, Helen Tan and Joseph Savage. Focus on the Family sent their staff Joshua Liong and Timothy to assist and provide feedback for facilitators improvement as the diocese of Melaka-Johor has committed to run these workshops regularly with the support of Family Life and Youth & Campus Ministries.
As in previous workshops, our special guests who shared their experience living with HIV was an addition that our diocese has added to the workshop, with the collaboration of our Office of Human Development. This year, we also focused on our ‘Session with Parents’ as we wanted parents to be involved in this important topic. This time, the English Apostolate invited Eddie Loh and his wife from Singapore.
Taking note of last year’s feedback, games were added to this year’s workshop. The youths from all the three apostolates were encouraged to mix in station games, where the participants played with palm branches, flour, water etc. The other moment when the youths of the three workshops came together was at the Holy Hour and Mass with Bishop Paul Tan at the end. Ably supported by a team of post-SPM youths, UTM students and working adults, more praise & worship times were added to the weekend.
Comments received from participants after the camp were, “ I will save my virginity for marriage, for my future spouse’’, “Pre-marital sex is so risky, I don’t want to spoil my future’’, “ My parents will be disappointed if I behave in such a way”, “ I love myself and value my dignity; he can wait if he really loves me,” “ STD’s are not want I want’’, “God forbids us having pre-marital sex; now I understand why He said so” and “The speakers spoke with compassion and love, which makes me feel God’s mercy”.
The next No Apologies workshops will be during the mid-year school holidays. North Johor will run their workshops from 26-27th May in 3 languages; English workshop will be in St Louis, Kluang, Mandarin workshop at the Oasis Centre and Tamil workshop in St Philip, Segamat. For Malacca, the Tamil and English workshops will be run from 8-10th June at the Good Shepherd Seminary; the latter will be conducted with additional material from Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body.