Have you heard of Jonah Mowry?

Recently a video has gone “viral” online.  It is of Jonah Mowry, an 8th grade student who simply sits in front of the screen shares his message by flipping index cards with pre-written messages on them.  How does something so plain go viral?  Because of Jonah’s message and the emotion he shows as he reveals it.  Jonah “comes out” as a homosexual (though he doesn’t fully spell it out in the video), shares that he has been bullied, cut himself, done things he’s ashamed of, and attempted suicide.  It ends with a hopeful note that Jonah is “not going anywhere” because he’s “stronger than that” and he has “a million reasons to be here.”  Watch the video here:

To me, the most important thing we need to realize from this video is not about homosexuality or bullying or cutting or suicide.  Those are extremely important, but I see that the pain Jonah shares in this video is similar to a pain shared by many other teens who haven’t been bullied and who aren’t gay.  They have day to day struggles that weigh them down and make them feel alone and hopeless.  How do we respond to that?

It’s no surprise that as our society continues to drift away from its Christian heritage that people are losing their sense of identity and in the process losing hope.  We have an incredible hope to share with people!  That is the hope of the gospel.  The Apostle Peter says this:  “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:15).  Are you sharing hope with people?  We have a God who loves us.  He doesn’t ignore our sin or sweep it under the rug; what He does is much more powerful.  He makes it clear that sin is very costly, and then let’s us know He paid the price for it so that we can be fully accepted by Him.  Wouldn’t Jonah benefit from this truth?

Some have accused Jonah of lying. That may be true, but I don’t know that it matters in this case.  Walt Mueller says that it is not a big deal whether Jonah’s story is “real or not in this case,” because “the story is all-too-real in all-too-many real cases. Jonah speaks for a growing percentage of our population.”  (Read the rest of Walt’s blog here).

What are YOU doing to share the hope of the gospel with people?  This time of year you have an even easier opportunity to do it!

Cyberbullying

One of the alarming trends in our digital era is cyberbullying.  What is cyberbullying?  According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, it can be defined as “when someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person online or while using cell phones or other electronic devices.”[1] In their research, 20% of teens had experienced cyberbullying.  Interestingly enough, this trend is more common among adolescent girls.  The chart below shows some basic statistics on the issue.

What can you do?  It might be a good idea to talk with your youth about cyberbullying.  They may be victims of it.  They also may have perpetrated it in some way.  It is not too much of a stretch for youth to compartmentalize this type of behavior ? since they aren?t doing the harassment to a person?s face, it can be easy to explain away their actions as harmless fun.  Most likely, they have at least seen this type of behavior, perhaps on comment boards online.

We are called to a standard of holiness in all of our behavior.1 Peter 1:15 states, ?But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ?Be holy, because I am holy.?? Philippians 2:3-4 says, ?Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.?

What other verses mention the need for behavior that builds up rather than tears down others?

What can God do through a youth who not only refuses to cyberbully but also commits to act against it?  Youth could build others up online and even speak out against negative posts.  Encourage them to show the light of Christ in their actions always.


[1] Hinduja, S. and Patchin, J. W. ?Cyberbullying research.? Cyberbullying Research Center (www.cyberbullying.us).  (Accessed 3/25/10).

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