Festival tackles drugs, gangs

The young people of Samoa who are looking for acceptance through drugs, alcohol, gangs and all sorts of bad outlets have a choice. 

They can choose to make something good of their lives because that’s what their purpose is.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, James Katina, of the Katina Brothers, said the young people of Samoa have a bright future but some of them need to change their paths.

 “I have been hearing about gangs, gang violence and gangs forming in Samoa,” he said.  “It’s disappointing because this is not the Samoa that I know of.  The Samoa I know of is full of young people who are respectful, obedience and they care for others.”

According to James, people turn to gangs for a number of reasons.

 “I believe that gangs are formed through trying to find acceptance. Maybe they’re going through some trials at home with a disconnect between parents and their kids, fathers and their sons.

“So the message that we would like to inspire them with is that they don’t need to join a gang to be accepted. They’re already accepted by God for who they really are.”

The Katinas are in Samoa for the National Praise Festival which ended on Saturday night. The brothers performed on Friday and the last night, sharing their testimonies with hundreds of young people who turned up.

 “We do anything that we can do as brothers to inspire… not just through our music,” James said.

“What we sing about or try and speak or preach; it’s really the lifestyle that we try and live on a daily basis.

“That’s our message to what has been going on here in Samoa as of late; pertaining to gangs and so on. We want them to know that God loves them and you don’t have to prove anything.”

Another message the Katinas promoted is that God has a plan for everyone. 

 “Sometimes as Polynesians we feel like we come from a small island group so maybe the opportunity for us are limited but we want to remind our brothers and sisters especially here in Samoa that God has an amazing plan,” said John.

“It was a treat to be with the young people at N.U.S. and it felt like we were staring into the faces of leaders; obviously not just for the future but leaders of today that will shake this nation to do amazing things.

“To be amazing inside the church and outside the church; we want to remind the people of Samoa that we can do all things through Christ.”

On Saturday night, the Katinas’ message was backed up by the Chairman of Youth For Christ, Leota Kosi Latu, who reminded the young people of Samoa that they are sons and daughters of the living God.

 “You can try and find an identity in anything in this world but it will still leave you empty until you accept Jesus Christ into your life,” Leota told the crowd.

“The Bible tells us that before you were born, before you were even conceived, God knew exactly how he was going to bring you to blessings.”

Leota highlighted God’s grace and his love. 

“God’s love supersedes anything.”

Parents need to share the same love with their children. 

“If you show and demonstrate your love to your children, they will not need to find it somewhere else,” Leota said in addressing the role of parents.

“Tell them that you love them, it’s not enough to say that she knows or he knows. The solution is here in the Word…God affirmed his son, here is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.”

The Festival was coordinated by the Youth for Christ (Y.F.C) organization along with its partners in the public and private sectors, communities and churches. 

“The Youth for Christ Mission and Vision is to reach out to the young people of Samoa. The Youth for Christ is not a church but an organisation that focuses on the young people of Samoa, 

“The young people are the future of our nation and that is our mission - to bring together the young people of this nation because it matters to God.”

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