By LINDA M. LINONIS
Mary Duke believes the upcoming “Help for the Hurting” family conference “will start a conversation” that will help lead to healing.
The executive director of Teen Straight Talk, 1393 Youngstown-Kingsville Road SE, said the faith-based ministry is partnering with local pastors to engage families.
She said she thinks all families have experienced hurt of some kind. “We don’t choose to be dysfunctional,” she said of the family unit. “We function in our dysfunction.”
Duke said the conference set for Friday and Saturday in Warren is a “community event” that will “reach out to families with love and support.” She said the conference will address “hurt in the family, church, community and parenting.”
Duke founded Teen Straight Talk in 1989 with the mission “to equip children with truth, unaltered by the ever-changing morals of our society. The values they learn will provide them with an unchanging grid of truth.” The organization is dedicated to “educating children, teens and adults regarding the importance of abstinence as a lifestyle choice,” according to its website, www.teenstraighttalk.com.
The ministry focuses on helping participants appreciate personal worth, the importance of decision-making and being accountable for one’s actions.
“The family is so fragmented,” Duke said. “We’ve gotten away from the family ... gotten off base.”
Duke emphasized that elements of “being more involved with family members” and “supporting one another” are key to getting over the hurt, no matter what caused it. “But only God can heal a broken heart. He is the answer. ... We don’t have the answer,” she said. “God’s truth is the point of reference.”
She cited 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Duke said families must turn to God, their creator, “to teach them to love.”
Duke added that pastors involved in the conference care about the future of families. “They will be available to help people talk and connect,” she said.