Sometimes missionary work begins at home. Jesus called His people to preach love and compassion to everyone, and sometimes, our neighbors and the members of our local community are suffering and need to know that Jesus loves them.
Late last year, four local teens committed suicide in the span of just a few weeks in the small town of Anadarko, Oklahoma. Another teenager attempted suicide shortly thereafter. The heartbreak rocked the small town. Everyone was shocked and in mourning.
Although none of the youth were members of Christ Gospel Church, Rev. Anthony Williamson of CGC Anadarko was heartbroken. He told us that he fell on his face in prayer and cried out to God. He asked the Lord what he could do, because something had to change; something had to happen to stop this from happening again. He remembered the Bible verse Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” He wrote this Bible verse on a large piece of cardboard and held it out in front of the school as the young people were leaving school. He then also began speaking to the young people, letting them know that God loves them.
Several parents, moved by what Williamson was saying, joined him that day, saying other positive things to the young people as they left school. Within two days, there were 30 people holding signs (both CGC members and people from other denominations), giving the teens much needed positive affirmation. Students began joining the demonstrations as well.
Williamson noted that since he took his stand, there hasn’t been a suicide or suicide attempt in his community. “It’s important for our kids to know that there is a God that loves them.” He’s also pleased to note that the students have formed a prayer and support group as well inside the town’s high school. Williamson has been the pastor in Anadarko for less than a year, but he’s already made a significant impact on his community.
It’s important for young people to know that someone loves and cares for them. Adolescence is a difficult time. And if you’re a young person who is experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, please don’t keep quiet. Please don’t be afraid to tell your parents or your teachers or your pastor. They want to be there to help and support you through your struggles.
Please remember the community of Anadarko, Oklahoma in your prayers.