Did You Know?

Eighteen men and no women have been

executed in the United States in 2017.

October

The birthday camping trip came as a surprise!  All were looking forward to the weekend, even the birthday girl who only had a day to prepare!  A few days at a National Park, full of camping, hiking, unexpected rainstorms, cookouts, and, of course, s’mores!  The car trip was filled with talk of what they were going to eat and the trails they wanted to hike.  Several specific trails were picked; some for the views they offered and others for the hiking challenge they offered.  One afternoon road trip later, the group arrived at the campsite after dark, setting up the tent using flashlights before burrowing into sleeping bags intent on a good night’s sleep before a day full of adventure.  The excitement was somewhat tampered the following morning: some of the hiking trails were closed to allow park rangers to search for a missing hiker, including one of the planned trails.  No worries, there were several other trails.  Word came later that day.  The hiker, who had been missing for a week was found.  She was dead.  She had committed suicide.

 

Information later showed that she was a local woman, known for running those trails as training for trail races and to keep in shape for her job.  Shortly before she killed herself, a picture had been shared on a popular social media site, a picture she did not want shared with the world.  Under the picture were hundreds of disparaging comments, most criticizing her appearance.  Many of those comments came from co-workers.  She was bullied, resulting in her death.

 

She was not the first person to commit suicide due to bullying and, sadly, she will not be the last.  Over 42,000 individuals commit suicide every year.  It is the third leading cause of death among young people.  And, for every person that successfully kills themselves, 100 others attempt and fail.  Due to the nature of suicide, it is impossible to determine how many suicides are related to bullying.

 

We often think of bullying as the school yard bully.  Anti-bullying campaigns are focused at school age children, with adults being trained how to respond if a child reports bullying to them or what to do if they witness a bullying incident between children.   But it also needs to be recognized that bullying does not end at graduation.  Sadly, it follows us into adulthood and the workplace.  And, even more sad, the older we become, the crueler we become.  Bullying can take many forms, not limited to gossip, exclusion, cruel, crude, unflattering, and/or unwanted jokes made at others expense, and criminal acts such as abuse and harassment.

 

The word “bully” never appears in the Bible, but that does not mean the topic is not addressed.  Solomon advises, “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”  Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, reiterates Solomon’s advice, Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  (Ephesians 4:29, ESV)  Jesus commands His followers to Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44, ESV).  Just as children are taught in school, we are not to stoop to the level of the bully and retaliate.  We are to pray for them, show the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).

 

We are also not to stand by and watch others being bullied - it is the same as bullying.  Inaction to others being bullied is bullying!  We are to“Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hands of the wicked,”(Psalm 82:4, ESV).  But, you may thinking, will that not lead to me being bullied?!  Perhaps, but we must be willing to make sacrifices to follow the Lord.

  

It may be a tired statement, but it is true: we cannot control the actions of others, only how we respond.  So how do you respond?  October is Bullying Prevention Month.  Set aside at least one day this month to focus your daily Bible study on what the Bible has to say about bullying and our reactions.  Spend some time in prayer each day this month praying for strength for those who are being bullied.  Pray for strength for yourself to not stand idly by.  Pray for awareness and compassion for the bullies.

The 14th World Day Against the Death Penalty occurs on October 10, 2016.  This day is a time to educate and raise awareness about various issues surrounding the death penalty.  Each year, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty focuses on a specific topic about which to raise awareness.  This year, the focus is on the use of the death penalty for terrorism charges.

 

No one can argue that in the past several years, the world has drastically changed.  Terrorism and terrorist acts have become a much more frequent occurrence, including nations once thought to be safe from such actions.  In response to these terrorist actions, some nations have expanded the death penalty laws, or are considering introducing the death penalty, for terrorist acts.  Other nations, who had not performed executions in years, have resumed carrying out the death penalty in an effort to curb terrorist activities.  Throughout the world, there are 65 countries and territories that currently retain capital punishment for terrorism charges, including the United States.

  

On this World Day Against the Death Penalty, we, at The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries, ask that you remember all those on death row throughout the world.  Please pray that if they are innocent of the crimes for which they have been convicted and sentenced to death, that their innocence will be proven prior to their execution.  Please also pray that all may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if they have not already.

October 10, 2015, is the 13th World Day Against the Death Penalty.  The goal of World Day Against the Death Penalty is to raise awareness about the death penalty and advocate against the death penalty.  Each year, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty focuses on a different location or topic about which to raise awareness.  This year, they are focusing on raising awareness about nations who use the death penalty to punish drug offenders.

 

According to the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, there are 33 countries and territories worldwide who continue to use executions for drug related crimes, 12 of which have mandatory death sentences for drug related crimes.  Of those 33 countries and territories, 13 carried out executed for drug crimes within the past five years.  Perhaps most famously, 31-year-old Andrew Chan and 34-year-old Myuran Sukumaran, both Australians, were executed earlier this year in Indonesia for smuggling drugs in 2005.  They were the convicted ring leaders of the group known as the Bali 9, and the only members to have their death sentences upheld and carried out.

  

On this World Day Against the Death Penalty, we, at The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries, ask that you remember all the individuals on death row in your prayers.  Please pray that if they are not guilty of the crime(s) for which they have been convicted, their innocence will be revealed.  Please pray that all who are on death row may come to find peace through personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if they have not already.

October 10, 2014, is the 12th World Day Against the Death Penalty.  The goal of World Day Against the Death Penalty is to raise awareness about the death penalty and advocate against the death penalty.  Each year, the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty focuses on a different location or topic about which to raise awareness.  This year, they are focusing on mental health issues among inmates on death row.

 

The mental health of inmates on death row is an ongoing legal battle.  International human rights standards, along with US laws, forbid the execution of inmates with mental illness or intellectual disabilities.  How those two terms are legally defined is subject for debate.

  

On this World Day Against the Death Penalty, we, at The Forgiveness Foundation, ask that you remember all the individuals on death row in your prayers.  Please pray that if they are not guilty of the crime(s) for which they have been convicted, their innocence will be revealed.  Please pray that all who are on death row may come to find peace through personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if they have not already.

Mark arrived home from a hard day at work.  His wife berated him for forgetting to take out the trash before he left that morning.  She told him he would not be eating until he fixed the leaky pipe.  An hour later, Mark realized the problem was not one he could solve.  His wife called him “useless” and “pathetic.”   All evening she continued to criticize him.  She began swearing at him when he went to make himself dinner and relax before going to bed.  Mark is a victim of domestic abuse.

 

Jenny cracked open her door and peered out.  She had heard her parents screaming and cursing at each other.  Her father reached over and slapped her mother, knocking her down.  He picked her up and pushed her up against a wall, continuing to yell.  Her mother fought back, escaping his grasp.  Jenny wished she did not have to hear the yelling every night and see the fights.  Jenny is a victim of domestic abuse.

 

Katie and her husband both work hard.  When they get home, he cooks dinner and cleans the kitchen, while she works at laundry and vacuuming.  They enjoy a meal together and watch their favorite television show together, laughing at the ridiculous situations the characters get themselves into.  Katie is tired and has an early morning.  She wants to go straight to sleep.  Her husband has other plans.  He ignores her protests.  Katie is victim of domestic abuse.

 

Eric is in third grade, struggling with multiplication, just as he struggled with addition and subtraction for the past two years.  He does not understand his homework, but does not want to ask for help.  His mother, who used to help him died, and his father’s girlfriend laughs at his questions, calling him “dummy” and “slow,”  asking him how he can be so stupid.  Eric is a victim of domestic abuse.

 

October is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month.*  Domestic violence is a topic that has recently been brought into the spot light by accusations against star athletes like NFL players Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, and Ray McDonald, and professional soccer player Hope Solo.  

 

Although the issue has received recent attention, domestic violence is not a recent problem.  As illustrated above, it takes many forms, from the often identified physical violence, to the lesser thought of emotional and psychological abuse.  Domestic violence can also include sexual and verbal abuse.  There are over 1.3 million reported cases of domestic violence each year, however it is estimated that the true number of domestic abuse cases is significantly higher as most, especially male victims, are never reported.

 

For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (1 Corinthians 7:4, ESV)

 

God’s plan for a relationship between a man and woman is one of harmony.  Eve was created to help Adam.  Their relationship was one of unity, never fearing the actions of the other.  Sin has corrupted this relationship.  Instead of unity and mutual respect, the relationship is one of fear.  We must work hard to show our children, and the world, the relationship God designed.  Children who are abused or witness abuse are far more likely to enter an abusive relationship.

 

Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit.]  (Colossians 3:21 AMP)

 

Paul warns against being hard on children, yet he is not speaking out against discipline.  Discipline is necessary to teach children and is done out of love.
  Abuse is done out of anger, frustration, and the desire to gain control and manipulate.  We are all children of God.  We can turn to His examples throughout the Bible when disciplining our children.

 

We, at The Forgiveness Foundation Christian Ministries, encourage anyone who is being domestically abused, or knowns of someone being abused, to contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1−800−799−7233.  You can also visit their website at http://www.thehotline.org. 

 

*Domestic violence and domestic abuse are two terms used to legally describe what are essentially the same crimes.  The term used depends on the state and some states assign certain crimes to a certain term.  For the purpose of this article, the two terms are used interchangeably.

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