Girl! Interrupted!: An interview with Teresa Coelho of Power of Modesty

3 03 2011

Interviewing Teresa Coelho of Power of Modesty is such a blast. As a former model and a mother she has a keen eye for what teens, especially girls are going through. Issues like peer pressure, clothing, sex and pleasing God are on top of every girls list of questions. For me (as a guy) I also learned a lot.  And now without further a due, here is our interview Teresa.

ROCK:    Teresa, why do teens especially girls get peer pressured?

Teresa: Being a model in Southern California for 15 years, I understand the expectation to maintain what Hollywood and the fashion industry consider “perfection.”  It’s a never-ending, forever changing culture that pressures especially girls to compromise character and their self-worth.  It’s unfortunate that nine in ten teen girls are influenced by T.V. fashion mags and models.  Even though most girls know that the photos they’re looking at have been altered or photoshopped, still 75% of girls become depressed after fifteen minutes of reading a glam mag.  What I’ve learned after working in the entertainment industry is to be content with my body, and be happy and with whom I am when I look at myself in a mirror.

ROCK: How does this affect their life specifically being a Christian? How about you as a teen then?

I made mistakes as a young adult and it wasn’t until I had the opportunity at a second marriage that my fiancé’ stated that he would only marry me if I made Christ a priority in my life. I was a young Christian at the time, and I didn’t want to fail at another marriage, so I read my Bible often and listen to Christian radio broadcasts. I’ve learned to stand firm and trust God with my life, my marriage, the raising of four girls, and a ministry.

The Bible gives us an edge over the culture’s deception. As Christians we exist in Christ and in this world. But like most of us, it’s easier to listen to the lies that we’re unworthy than to believe that we are “Wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).  Romans 12 is key to remember when we struggle with those lies that whisper where not good enough.  The Bible says for Christians to be transformed by the “renewing of our mind” and not to conform to the pressures of a hostile world. Allowing God to transform us is like a metamorphosis, it’s a total change in our attitude towards how we think or feel about ourselves that develops from the inside out.

ROCK:   I thought this generation or culture taught us individualism yet why do teens and young adults fall for conformity on what media thinks, views on sexuality and the more obvious how they dress up?

Teresa: Media is always saying “Be your own girl!” “Embrace your uniqueness!” but then flashy sexy cover stories that read, “How to Look Like Your Fav Celeb”, or “25 Ways to Look Sexy.” Our culture is double-minded and if we choose the counterfeit culture over Christ we will set ourselves up for failure.

When I modeled, my life evolved around having a sexy appearance. I think for me that word “appearance” says it all. I appeared sexy, but that really wasn’t my heart at all. It was what I thought I was supposed to be, the girl with the sexiest clothes and the hottest body wins…right?

But after rededicating my life to Christ, I was convicted over the clothes I’d been wearing I began asking myself these questions:

Why do I choose to wear “sexy” outfits? Am I really that insecure that have to show off my body to compete with other women? Is it a rush knowing that my body caught a man’s eye and became the focus of his attention?

I think it’s important for every girl that struggles with modesty to ask themselves these questions, so that they can keep their heart in check with God’s standards and not the worlds.

 

ROCK: What are your advice for teens on how do they stand out while maintaining their Christian values?

Teresa: Isaiah 59:15 says “Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes prey.”

I believe this next generation of Christians must stand firm and engage in the truth of God’s Word. We have become too passive and have allowed evil to walk all over us.  It’s time for a grass-roots movement of repentance to wash across our heart so God can heal us and our land.

That’s why I’ve created the “Rebellion Newsletter.” It’s an email the gets basted all around the world to encourage girls to speak up against the culture when others are afraid too.

ROCK:   Lets go to clothing, why is clothing very important to teens?

Teresa: For teenagers, clothing is a social statement. It expresses to their friends and everyone else who they are and what they like.  It’s their signature or identity.  Clothing can categorize you into cliques or groups by what you wear. But most the time, teens are into a certain look of clothing because of peer pressure to wear the latest style.

ROCK:   How about sex. How can we tell teens to wait and invest in purity while their friends had given it already?

Teresa: Over 50% of teen girls between the ages of 12-17 feel pressured into having sex, either by their boyfriend or class mates.

Here are some statistics that I just read today from the Alan Guttmacher Institute:  They’re reporting there are 4 million new sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) that infect teens each year. And that the Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections account for about half of STIs diagnosed among 15- 24year olds each year.
I also found a study dated Tuesday, January 26, 2010 that reads: Following decade-long decline, U.S. teen pregnancy rate increases as both birth and abortions rise.

But let’s not forget about the AIDS/HIV report from The Kaiser Foundation that “new HIV infections among young people are at 2.6 million.”

I could go on about the statistics and risks of premarital sex, but many girls believe that getting pregnant or an STD would never happen to them. The reality is…its happening. And it’s happening to girl’s every day that have to go home and tell their parents their pregnant or have a sexually transmitted disease because they couldn’t wait till they were married to have sex.

I think it’s time for us girls to get real.
God is a relational God, and He created a husband and wife to be sexual. Marriage invites a man and a woman into each other’s life to know and to be known. There’s no shame. No regrets. No boundaries. Sex God’s way, is the best and safest sex out there!

But how do you wait when everyone around you isn’t? I tell teens that their feeling toward wanting to experience sex is normal. But God says to wait and for very good reasons until you’re married. Did you know that over 25% of teens that have premarital sex become depressed.  Dating and breaking up then dating again when sex is involved with different partners, overtime will callous your heart. What you’ve done is trained your heart, your body, and your brain to not fully give or accept love the way God intended.

Now that you know the truth, it’ll be easier for you to overcome Satan’s scheme.  Read Ephesians 5:5 and keep this verse in your brain. “Let there not be a HINT of sexual immorality.” What that means is this: When you talk to the opposite sex there should not be an indirect suggestion, a slight indication, a touch, a trace, and a drop of a hint or a potential opportunity for sexual behavior.

ROCK: Wow, Teresa very well said.   I know there are parents out their reading this, so what can you say to them on the proper way to talk to their kids about Christian modesty?

Teresa: It’s important to talk to your children about modesty when they’re still young. Instilling morals and values right away into your children teaches them that this is your family’s life style and expectation. Otherwise when your children become teenagers you’ll be battling over a freedom that once belonged to them. The double standard will cause friction and frustration between you and your teen.

ROCK: Any tips or advice to teens and young adults that I know for sure wants to please God and their parents. So what do think are the steps in doing it?

Teresa: Every teen deep down wants to please their parents. I’ll give you a few tips that I believe teens need to be intentional about that are non-negotiable when it comes to relationships with God and their parents.

The first tip is trust. If you break your parents trust, it’ll take time to rebuild, so don’t expect your parents to just hand over the car keys or allow you to go out after you’ve gotten caught breaking the rules. Many times teens feel the need to sneak around behind their parents back.  This behavior only results in a guilty conscience that will cause all kinds of emotional and physical attitudes to flare up between you, your parents, your friends, including your relationship with God.  The best thing to do is talk with your parents about how your feeling, before there’s a mountain of tension in your relationship.

The second tip is to obey your parents.  Many times teens refuse to listen and will talk back or flat out rebel because they don’t agree with their parents rules. It’s important for the teen to understand that your parents are there to empower you through your teen years to help prepare you now, so that you will make wise choices for your future.

My last tip is to honor your parents. I know that this could be difficult for some teens that have been neglected and hurt by their parents.  I was mistreated growing up, and my mom made me feel as though I was destroying the family when I chose to get Christian counseling. But when she got older, I honored her by lovingly caring for her needs. It’s important to honor your parents by the choices you make with your life. The things you choose to do are a reflection of your Heavenly Father.

These simple steps are what God desires from you too.  He wants your relationship to be built on trust, as you depend on Him to get you through the turbulent times of your teenage years.  However, that depends on you being obedient to His Word, and putting it into action in your life.  And most of all God wants you to honor Him by representing Him and His Kingdom.

ROCK: Teresa it’s such a pleasure interviewing you. I learned a lot from you. Now, Teresa what is Power of Modesty? Please tell us about it? Invite them to check you website or Facebook page.

Power of Modesty was founded in 2004 and it was created to be a safe environment where teen girls can find the love, understanding, support, accountability and guidance that they’re seeking through relationships, and to give them the message of freedom and grace that we can only receive through Jesus Christ, allowing transformation to be a process and a journey so they can make a positive influence on our culture.

I would love to have your readers’ blog me and join the Rebellion Newsletter on the P.O.M. website at http://www.powerofmodesty.com





Basta Advice ni Kuya: ROCK interviews Kuya Kevin Sanders

19 06 2010

Love, sex and relationships. These three grabs Pinoys interest. You don’t believe me? Well check out tons of Mexican and Korean telenovelas out there. Or your neighborhood sari-sari store pocketbooks for rent. Or try to tune in the radio to hear Joe D’ Mangos wannabes. Filipinos love talking about these topics.

ROCK Ministry recently got a hold with Kuya Kevin Sanders, a campus minister, author and host of the radio show “Basta Love Life” and asked some questions about his blog, books, radio and campus ministry.

ROCK Ministry: How did all this things happen? Did you plan all this? When did you start being a kuya?

Kuya Kevin: I became a Christian when I was very young.  A few years later (my teenage years) I felt that God was calling me to serve Him.  It didn’t make much sense to me at the time because I’m more of an introvert (shy type).  But God has continued to confirm this decision.

To make a long story short, I got interested in missions when I was in college.  I told God I would be willing to go if He would make a way.  He eventually did, and I ended up here.  One of the reasons I chose Manila is I really wanted to work with college students.  There are hundreds of thousands of them here, so I have plenty of work to do.  This is my dream job!

ROCK Ministry:  There are lots of people especially in the media that has this love advice segments or columns. Dr. Love copycats are like mushroom here. So tell us what makes your advice different from those gazillions out there who wants to take a stab on someone’s relationship problem?

Kuya Kevin: The show was started in part as a response to some of the shallow, worldly advice that seems so prevalent on some shows.  Erwin (my co-host) got the idea while on a late-night bus ride.  He heard this radio “counselor” telling a caller that same-sex relationships are OK as long as you are in love (definitely not what the Bible teaches).  We started talking about doing our own show–a show based on biblical principles.

I think what sets us apart is the biblical approach.  We stick to the Word and try to make it very practical and relevant.

We are also careful to avoid legalism.  The Bible gives us some clear guidelines (such as saving sex for marriage), but I’m afraid some Christian teachers and authors go a little overboard.  It makes me think of Paul’s words: “Do not go beyond what is written” (1st Conrinthians 6:4).

ROCK Ministry:    One question that rises is: you are American, so how can you give advice to Pinoy considering the culture background?

Kuya Kevin: Well, part of the answer is this: many of the issues I deal with are common among youth/singles all around the world.  Sometimes I find myself personally relating to questions I’m asked–things I’ve experienced myself when I was a student in the States.

But culture does play a role.  I had already lived in the Philippines for a few years before I started doing purity seminars–I didn’t start this as soon as I stepped off the plane.  In other words, I had a pretty decent understanding of Filipino culture by the time this aspect of ministry developed.

ROCK Ministry: Wow. So what can you say about Pinoys and how they handle their love life?

Kuya Kevin: I think Filipinos tend to take courtship very seriously.  The process is a little more formal than what we do in the States.  We Westerners, for example, only use the term “propose” to refer to a marriage proposal.  We don’t make a formal proposal for courtship.

I hate to admit this, but the Filipinos’ biggest problem is they are starting to act like Americans–having premarital sex, having children outside of wedlock, cohabitation (living together outside of marriage), etc.  The traditional Filipino values more closely match the biblical teaching on love, sex, and marriage.

RM: What do you think makes good advice?

KK: First and foremost, good advice is based on the Bible.  Beyond that I think keeping things as simple and as practical as possible is the way to go.

RM: In your experience as a campus minister, what are the challenges you face daily as you minister to students? Do you have an unforgettable story you can share with us?

KK: The ministry I do is kind of unique in that I spend a great deal of time outside the church.  Most of my ministry happens in schools, with students that may not have any spiritual background.  The greatest challenge is reaching out and being patient with the students’ responses–even those who are not interested in the gospel.

I’m not sure that I have one favorite story–there are so many.  Celebrating victories is important, so I make sure to reflect on every life I see changed by the power of the gospel.

RM:   I’m also a campus minister and I learned a lot from listening to students when they pour their hearts out. It’s not just to connect to their generation but to share what I experienced. How about you? What is the most important lesson you have learned while these college kids express how they feel?

KK: The most important thing I learn is whatever is going on in that particular student’s life.  It is a great honor to have someone share his or her life with you.  I’ve learned that just being willing to listen goes a long way in doing ministry.

RM:  Who do you seek for encouragement and advice?

KK: My parents have been a source of support and encouragement for me.  They’ve always told me to do whatever it is God is calling me to do.

I have some great friends, and each of them encourage me in different ways.  Some of them may just hang out with me for coffee and a movie.  I have a friend in the States who has known me since college.  He’s the one I usually email to talk about issues in my personal life–I can pretty much tell him anything.

I’ve also been blessed with some great mentors over the years.  I still keep in touch with most of them.

RM:  Lets get to your books, you wrote two of them. Can you tell us about the books? How did you get the idea to put out a book?

KK: It all started with the blog (KuyaKevin.com).  I was looking for a way to connect with students I met in seminars–a way to keep sharing my thoughts with them once the seminar was over and they go back home.  I started blogging as a way to share advice.

Students were responding to my blog articles, so I kept writing.  I contacted Church Strengthening Ministry (CSM, my publisher) after a year or so of writing–it seemed publishing was the next logical step.

That’s how Basta LoveLife came into being.

I’ll give you a little more background on Basta LoveLife.  I noticed two things when looking at relationship books in the Philippines: 1. Most of the books here were simply imported from the States.  2.  It seemed many of the locally authored books were written by women.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but I figured it was time for something written from the masculine perspective.

This first book is basically a collection of my thoughts about love, sex and relationships–from a biblical perspective, of course.

The second book, Learning the Hard Way, also started on my blog.  I was seeing a lot of sad stories in my email inbox–testimonies of those who were making terrible mistakes and paying the price. “What if stories like these were used to warn others?”  I asked myself.

I started a “Learning the Hard Way” section on my blog, and it was a big hit.  It seemed like it would make a good book, so I approached my publisher (CSM) about it.  The end result was book number 2.  Erwin designed the cover and artwork for it.

RM: Those are things that a Christian Pinoy looks for. You know Kevin “Basta Love Life” book is very Pinoy. What are some reaction of people who read that book?

KK: It’s funny you mention that.  One of the greatest honors I’ve received is hearing Filipinos tell me they can relate to what I’ve written.  It puts a smile on my face because I known I somehow managed to reach my target audience.

RM: Your radio show/podcast is great. You and Kuya Erwin make a good tandem. So tell us how do you prepare for the radio show? Have you already made your response to the questions that you received? How do you pick the questions you will discuss in the show?
KK: Thanks–I’m glad you like the show.  Erwin and I jokingly call ourselves the Philippines’ most unprofessional broadcasters.  Don’t get me wrong–we are very concerned with quality.  But neither of us really come from a broadcasting background, and both of us have full-time ministries off the air.

Here’s how we usually arrange the show:  I choose the topics and questions, and Erwin is responsible for the music and production.  You’ve heard the show, so you know he also gives his own insights during counseling segments section.  This arrangement works well because Erwin is the musician/artist.

Or different cultural backgrounds are also a big asset.  Erwin is a Filipino.  He grew up in Manila, moved to the States as a teenager, and moved back to the Philippines a few years back.   I’m an American who moved here about eight years ago.  I think it gives us a pretty good balance in terms of cultural perspectives.

RM: You have a blog, books, radio podcast and you minister to students. I think many are curious; do you still have time for your own love life?

KK: Well, it can be challenging to balance full-time ministry and a social life.  But the biggest challenge for me has been finding the right person, not finding the time.  I can always make time for the right person.

I’ll add something here–something I find a little amusing.  People have asked me how I can write a book on love when I’m not married.  Here’s my answer: my books are not about married life.

I think it is great to hear from those who marry young and had relatively few romantic troubles.  But what about the rest of us?  I think we need to hear from those who, like me, have experienced rejection, breakups, blind dates, and all the other trials of single life.  Basta LoveLife, for example, has a chapter or two on breakups.  I included this because I noticed this kind of thing was mysteriously absent in some Christian books–as if Christians never experience broken hearts.  Believers need to know God is with them in the midst of their most trying moments.

RM:  In closing, please give a message to those who follow you in Twitter, Facebook, read your blog and books and listen to your podcast. Most of them really benefited with your advices for sure.

KK: I would probably refer back to the “two commandments”: be pure and be wise.  Keep yourself sexually pure and use biblical wisdom in your relationship choices.  Do this and you’ll avoid most of the disasters.

Bro Kevin thanks for giving your time for this interview and God bless as you minister to students.