Hear real stories of people from around our community. We hope you are encouraged and will continue taking steps towards joining the 1024 Movement. (Some of the names and details may have been changed to protect the identities of the people involved.)
Devon grew up in a loving Christian family. In middle school, Devon said he wasn’t one of the popular kids, and was a bit nerdy (his description of himself). He liked reading and mostly stayed to himself. Sadly, three other boys decided they didn’t like Devon and started doing some mean, cruel things to Devon at school. It started by calling him names. “Hey nerd boy, don’t you have anything better to do than read those stupid books? Are you gay? Why don’t you man up and play sports like us!” Devon tried to stay away from them at school, but pretty soon, they started following him home. Then the bullying got worse. When no one was looking, they would sneak up and push him into the rose bushes in the neighbors yard. They would laugh and run away.
Devon was scared to tell his parents or teachers, because he thought the bullying might get worse. He started getting stomach aches every morning and begged to stay home from school. At first, his parents thought he was sick and let him stay home. Eventually, his doctor said it would be good to gently push Devon back into school so he didn’t let anxiety keep him home. No one knew the real reason that Devon wanted to stay home. His parents kept asking, but Devon didn’t feel safe telling them even though he knew they loved him. He didn’t want to be labeled a “snitch” and had visions of those boys beating him up if he told. So, he stayed quiet.
When Devon moved to high school, the bullying stopped. But those voices in his head didn’t stop. He kept hearing those mean, cruel things the boys said to him. Pretty soon, he believed them. He began thinking to himself, “They’re right. I’m a nerd. I’m a looser and weak. I’ll never be successful in life.” In 9th grade, Devon got very depressed. To numb the pain, Devon started looking at porn on the internet. At first, it made him feel good and distracted from these inner tormenting thoughts. But the more he looked, the more addicted he became to porn, and then the self hatred began. These negative, cruel, self loathing kinds of messages started becoming so loud in Devon’s head that one day that he didn’t want to live. He kept thinking to himself, “things are hopeless. I hate myself. No one sees me. This pain will go on for the rest of my life and I can’t take it anymore.”
That’s when Devon made a plan to end his life. He lived near the train tracks and planned to jump in front of a train the next day. That night, Devon took a shower and an extraordinary thing happened. Devon reports it this way: “I was thinking about this plan to jump in front of the train, and I heard a loud voice say to me, “Devon I love you. You are not alone and I can stop this pain. For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and give you a future and a hope.” Devon told me that he began crying uncontrollably, and that as the water poured over him, he felt God’s presence and peace flooding into his body. The next day, Devon went with a friend to a church youth group. The youth pastors could see Devon was in pain, and they reached out to him with love and friendship. Instead of listening to those shaming voices that had been tearing him down for years, Devon began to hear the loving voice of God through his pastors and new friends.
After a year, Devon got up the courage to tell them his beautiful story. Now, Devon is courageously telling his story to you.