Superintendant Scott Beatty who was born and raised in nearby Massillon, spoke to Fox 8 TV saying, “I think it goes around one word: Hope. I would tell our kids there is hope, there is hope.”
I cannot imagine how I would react to this news if I were a parent of the latest victim; or, if I were any parent, teacher, or administrator of this Stark County, Ohio school district. But as a resident of nearby Wayne County, my own reaction is one of grief and concern for those affected by these deaths. How tragic that six students who had walked the “halls of learning” in Perry Local Schools had reached the point at which they could find no reason to live another day. At the same time, while I commend superintendent Beatty for offering “Hope” to his students, I am curious as to what he believes is the object of this Hope. In my experience, hope without a reliable object or basis for possessing it, is unfounded, unreliable, and unsatisfying.
Thankfully, Perry Township residents are beginning to realize that, with suicides continuing to occur, something more is needed than simply encouraging students and parents to call suicide awareness counselors, helpful as that might be. A phone call this morning to two friends in North Canton, Ohio provided both disturbing and encouraging news.
|What my Google search revealed--key words: Perry, God, religion, church|
The Bible has been clear in its call for the moral and spiritual disciplines for thousands of years.
Proverbs 29: 18 states:
Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,
But happy is he who keeps the law.
Hosea 4: 6 claims:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:
because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee…
seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God,
I will also forget thy children.
It is not enough to offer Hope. The Scriptures make clear that there is no hope unless we turn to our Creator and submit to His plan for living. In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul professes that he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because it is the power of God for salvation to all who believe….(Romans 1:16). But sadly, Paul continues, explaining how humans throughout the ages have rejected the truth of God, exchanging it for a lie, and suppressing the truth. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1: 22).
My previous article in Oikonomia, entitled Resolutions for 2018: Pursuing God --On Purpose, emphasizes the fundamental need of every person to know their purpose for living. Our schools may do well in teaching the three-R’s along with computers, science, and technology. But our students are facing many additional challenges outside the classroom, such as learning who they are as developing individuals and finding social acceptance and meaningful relationships. All the while, individual development in mind, body, and spirit, and self-awareness are challenged by social media, poor family structure, access to drugs, and an ongoing deterioration of morality in our culture—an unbiblical morality that no longer regards the ancient foundations supporting biblical marriage and gender distinctions.
|Good suggestions are meaningless without a moral foundation.|
But there is also good news for the Perry community. A network of people of faith has been forming to assist students and parents who are willing to meet with them. Rocky Perkson, one of my North Canton friend's former students, has announced on his Facebook page a “Community Come Together” meeting on Monday, January 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm at
Canton Baptist Temple
515 Whipple Ave NW
Canton OH 44708
Enter through Door G please. Opposite side of Whipple Ave
The FREE event is open to all and the speaker is Christopher Milo.
While it is true according to Proverbs 29: 18 that Where there is no vision, the people perish, it is also true that happy is he that keeps the law. The psalmist David, in Psalm 19: 7-11, expands upon the “happiness” of the law-keeper who turns to God’s Word to find wisdom, joy, forgiveness, and warning:
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
What the young people and families of northeast Ohio and our nation as a whole need is more exposure to Christ-followers—people who have found Hope in the Eternal God and have responded in faith to the call of His Son Jesus. Jesus laid down the path of a true Christian with these words:
If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. – Luke 9: 23-24
God so loved the world of His creation that He sent His Son to give us the gift of everlasting life (John 3: 16). Christ came to replace our fear and despair with Love and Hope. But surprisingly, this faith transaction requires a “death”—death to self and sin as we are individually buried with Christ so we can rise to new life in which God’s loving Spirit enables us to yield control of our lives to Jesus Christ. This “death” to self and resurrection to New Life is symbolized by believer’s baptism.
If you are a Christ-follower, a true Christian by faith in the atoning work of Christ on the cross, and His death and resurrection, you may want to become more knowledgeable of teen and even pre-teen suicide in your community and efforts to prevent it. For example, you may want to locate a church or community ministry that provides support and spiritual teaching and encouragement for adolescents. Many communities have so-called “Breakout” programs for adolescents to attend during or after school hours. Why not Google “Breakout” to find the nearest program in your area?
If you are not a Christ-follower, perhaps you would like to learn more about the Eternal Life of Hope that Christ offers freely in response to your faith in Him. Check out the website for “Steps to Peace with God” which outlines how you can believe and respond to God’s love, how your sin separates you from God, what Jesus has done to address your separation, and what you can do by faith to receive God’s righteousness (right standing with a Holy God). If you have additional questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you. Just post a “Comment” below or e-mail me at email@example.com