You name it, he was called it. Fat boy. Four eyes. Pizza face. Always the last one picked by team captains in junior- and high-school sports because they didn’t think the chubby kid was fast or athletic enough to play. He was bullied, tormented and beaten as a Pentecostal preacher’s kid. By today’s measurements, he fit the profile for kids who make an attempt at suicide.
Nearly one-quarter of tenth graders who reported being bullied also reported having made a suicide attempt in the past 12 months, according to a Washington State Healthy Youth Survey published June 18, 2019 by verywellfamily.com
Among 15- to 24-year-old teens and young adults, suicide is one of the leading causes of death, reports Suicide Awareness Voices for Education. Additionally, 16 percent of students consider suicide; thirteen percent create a plan, and eight percent act to end their lives.
Despite having Godly, loving parents, the boy with southern manners who said “yes, ma’am and no sir” to authorities lost all respect for his life. “I got to the point in my life where I felt so helpless that I wanted to end it all,” says David Besch, remembering vividly feelings of pain, hopelessness and rejection while holding a cocked .22 pistol to his head as a young man.
In a flash, Besch’s mind turned to his parents – Spirit-filled pastors whose grief over their son’s suicide would equal the depression that haunted him. They had witnessed signs of their son’s pleas for help from school-yard bullies. “I remember crying one night for fear of the next day after threats from a bully, and my dad finding me, asking ‘What’s wrong?’
“When he found out – there’s a spiritual side to this – my dad immediately went to work on my behalf. I remember him telling the principal in front of me, ‘You need to be sure there’s not going to be retaliation for talking to you about this,’” Besch recalls.
Retaliation and fear are reasons people do not admit they are bullied.
Thankfully, despite periodic episodes of bullying in high school, thoughts of suicide vanished as Besch grew five- to six-inches as a senior. This happened while traveling and playing the bass guitar with the Besch Family Gospel Singers, a southern gospel-style group that included his mom, two sisters and a brother, while their father preached in revivals, conferences and youth camps where hundreds were saved.
After high school, Besch worked out religiously in the gym and walked onto the Evangel College football team in Springfield, Missouri after never playing a down of football in junior- or senior-high school. As a defensive starter his sophomore year, he played nose guard and tackle at 262 pounds and lettered three years. At age 20, he had a girlfriend for the first time.
Graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Evangel, Besch married Steffani, who he met at the Assembly of God college. They moved to Colorado, where he continued ministry, pursued a career, played semi-professional football and practiced natural body building. “As a young, chubby boy, I was always intrigued with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno – especially Lou – because he was deaf, used to get bullied, and was made fun of,” says Besch.
At 179 pounds, Besch entered and placed in a Mr. Colorado natural body-building competition, and later another contest. “It was shortly after – I was still in really good shape – that I went to my 20-year class reunion in 2003, and nobody knew who I was,” he says.
Today, Besch is still physically fit, works out, and eats well. Earning a master’s degree in business administration, Besch manages a bank and ministers across the country with Steffani through speaking invitations, on television and radio, and through writing. They raised three boys – all Spirit-filled young adults working on marriage, career, ministry or college education – and share powerful testimonies of victory over bullying and the supernatural power of prayer. For Steffani, drowning, dying, going to heaven and back as a teenage girl is a miraculous story she shares as a speaker, while writing a book about her victory over death.
View Besch’s powerful preaching here: https://vimeo.com/graceplace/download/277472794/641d3ac9a9
Unfortunately, Besch knows from personal experience that bullying reaches beyond schoolyards into workplaces, where he’s confronted it head on and, as a biblical counselor with Steffani, in marriages, churches, families and neighborhoods.
In offices and pulpits, bullies act like the devil, who steals joy through spreading shame and feelings of self-worthlessness, kills spirits through false accusations, and destroys minds with distortions. Jesus, on the other hand, offers abundant life. (John 10:10).
“I had a bully in my office – a boss who was just trouble. He was humiliating to people including myself,” says Besch, who shares keys to overcoming obstacles – including bullies – teaching people how to enjoy life with principles from a book he authored, “From Bullied to Blessed.”
It contains over 100 Bible verses, a documented miracle, and a layman’s view of quantum physics with spiritual application. In his messages and in the book, Besch addresses bullying awareness, intervention and prevention. And, he says, forgiveness is a key to living a blessed life.
“There’s no bully, group of bullies or rejection out there that should drive us to that point (of suicide), but it happens,” Besch writes in chapter three, titled ‘What’s Your True Value?’ He quotes Matthew 6:26 in which the Lord Jesus asks, “Are you not much more valuable than they (sparrows)?”
Yet, for many people, bullying and rejection in schools, workplaces, relationships and on social media (cyberbullies) exact tolls, leading some to believe the lie that there’s nothing redemptive in their pain. “If I could have seen His plans, I would never even put that gun to my head,” says Besch.
Others turn feelings of rejection, hopelessness, depression and anxiety into revenge on innocent people. “When you look at school shootings, most of them – probably 90 percent of them – were committed by guys who were bullied,” Besch says.
According to US. government statistics, a small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. “In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied,” reports stopbullying.gov, a government website.
Besch likes to say he’s not a victim of bullying but a victor through Christ Jesus, and he acknowledges his experiences aren’t as traumatizing as others people have endured.
His pastor agrees Besch is anything but a victim. “‘Bullied To Blessed’ is an invitation to each of us to choose the empowered, overcoming mind of Christ, rather than a victim-hood mentality in all areas of our lives,” says Jonathan Wiggins, pastor at Rez. Church, where the Besch’s have been in ministry for over two decades.
Some forms of bullying and accompanying pain Besch doesn’t pretend to understand.
“There are people who’ve been through worse than what I’ve been through – people who’ve been molested, or suffered as a result of racial discrimination,” a topic along with a chapter on worship Besch may include in a future edition of the book.
After speaking at a church in Texas, a woman in her 60s talked to David and Steffani after a worship service about a terrible bully in the home: her husband. She was the victim of abuse and desperately in need of help to survive. The Besch’s prayed for her insisting that, beyond their care, the woman needed to stand up for herself by reporting the abuse to the Veteran’s Administration, a needed but fearful step toward her personal safety.
In Colorado, Besch entered into a bullying situation that was, well, close to home spiritually as well as physically. Gangs threatened physical harm to a 16-year-old boy already a victim of low self-esteem, a fatherless home, and verbal abuse for his weight – one of the reasons Besch was bullied.
As mentor, Besch encouraged the young man with the Word of God and an affirmation of a bright future. He also insisted on reporting incidents of bullying to school officials during two years of mentoring the young man. The two also prayed together for protection, one time as gang members entered a restaurant and sat at the table next to them.
“I could see the pain in his eyes – holding back the tears – he just let it all out,” Besch says.
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SOURCE: Assist News, Steve Rees