“I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (The Message).
Benon, a fourth grader from Uganda, believed he was ugly and his mother hated him. He tried to end his life on three separate occasions. Benon’s parents separated, and more responsibility fell upon his shoulders, including fetching water. “The more my mom asked me to do, the more convinced I became that she hated me. I was angry and filled with hate. I could see no good in me.”
Clearly despair overwhelmed Benon. But God had His eye on His young son, and brought scripture his way that began to mend his thinking. The breakthrough happened in a class he attends that uses the Children-at-Risk curriculum. It was there he heard,
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know full well. Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
I learned that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God,” said Benon. “How can I believe I am worthless if I am created in God’s image? This verse gave me a reason to live. God loves me, and I’ll never forget I am special to Him.
Suicide is all too prevalent in countries where poverty is deeply ingrained, and families barely able to survive in normal conditions are devastated by a failing crop or drought. Children in David C Cook J127 Clubs in India, and those using our Life on Life curriculum around the world, are all too familiar with this level of hopelessness.
We do not shy away from the topic in the J127 curriculum. In a lesson on pain and death, we help children understand adults who have chosen to take their lives, and more importantly to help them know this is never a decision God wants them to act upon. We speak of warning signs and suggest ways they seek help post haste. And we use a role-play exercise involving Moses and Elijah and the personal turmoil they faced—and how they overcame.
Benon’s story is far from over, but he’s chosen life. Please pray for him and children like him, that they would choose life over death. And lift up our efforts to reach these children.
Update: In 2018, David C Cook transferred oversight of the J127 clubs to an in-country partner which continues to shepherd and grow this program. By supporting David C Cook’s Life on Life curriculum, you will be helping support this program as well.