We have declared war on suicide, and already we have witnessed many great victories. A few months ago, in a newsletter, I told how God promped me to preach about suicide in every crusade we conduct.
When God first prompted me to speak out on the subject of suicide, I was incredulous. I argued, "How can I preach on such a morbid subject in city-wide crusades? Only a small percentage of the audience would relate to such a message! People might think I was making too much of the problem."
But I obeyed the Lord. About five months ago, I preached on "Suicide" for the first time - in Spokane, Washington. I have been preaching about it in every crusade since, and the results have been both tragic and miraculous. Tragic, because I have had at least 35 on any given night confess they were on the brink of suicide. In Reno, Nevada, 72 people confessed they were thinking of suicide. In nearly every service, from 15 to 35 people admit they have attempted suicide at least once.
Is it just a bunch of phony confessions from teen-agers looking for sympathy? Never! Not when they roll up a sleeve and show you scars from razor wounds. They reach into their pockets and purses and hand me their vials of sleeping pills. Others sob out detailed confessions about how they had it all planned out. Girls use sleeping pills mostly. Boys use guns and knives. Many commit suicide in a speeding car - purposely driven out of control.
One ten-year-old girl, last week, really broke my heart. I broke down and wept in front of a large audience when she looked up at me and said, "Sure - I know what you mean by suicide! I've been thinking about it all week. Dad's an alcoholic; he beats me up. Mom runs around - she's never home. She hates me! Nobody loves me. It's easy to kill yourself when you got nothing to lose." Hundreds who heard that confession wept with me.
In a recent crusade, a very overweight teen-age girl stood and blurted out, "I'll tell you why I've tried to kill myself - twice! Look at me! I weigh over 200 pounds, and I'm only 15 years old. The kids in school call me a freak. They laugh at me. I have no friends. They don't know it, but inside me there is a girl like everybody else, who needs love. I don't want to live like this. I'd rather be dead than be a sideshow for people to laugh at."
How my heart went out to that poor girl. We meet so many overweight kids who hate themselves. Thank God, this particular girl has been turned around and, hopefully, is sticking to the diet our follow-up people shared with her.
In response to my last newsletter about suicide, some very shocking replies were received in my office. Here are ust a few::
Each night, after preaching about suicide, I return to my motel room with mixed emotions. I can never erase from my mind the haunting faces and tragic confessions of so many young people who almost took their lives. I see them, in my mind, lying dead from a self-inflicted wound or overdose of pills - and I break out in a cold sweat. I shudder at the thought that it's now payday for all the past ten years of permissiveness, divorce, immorality and spiritual emptiness. Now the bill has come due. Consequently, there is a whole generation of lonely, mixed-up kids who scoff at death - and who despair of life. they are not in a majority - at all! But, their numbers are growing. And any true Christian who can't weep over these tragedies is not really aware of what is happening in the world of youth.
But my heart also leaps for joy becuase of all those who are being plucked out of Satan's grip! Jesus is not only saving souls - he is saving bodies! Young bodies once self-condemned to suicide and death are now completely healed and turned around.
They come forward, boldly. they follow us backstage to the "miracle afterglow" service - and we share with them the simple steps on how to touch Jesus with childlike faith. To see their troubled frowns turn into smiles of victory and inner peace is worth the whole world to me. What a joy to have them stand up and tell everybody, "Jesus lifted by burden. The thoughts of suicide are all gone! I will never alain allow self-pity to destroy me! I'm free!"
Letters of thanksgiving come into our office daily. They are testimonies of miraculous changes in their lives. They tell about how Jesus took away their sense of failure - how He filled their lives with love - how new-found friends were discovered - how the Holy Spirit is helping them to graciously endure a hopeless home life - how Jesus gave them a renewed sense of self-importance - and how grateful they are that I obeyed God and preached a message on suicide that put the fear of the Lord into their hearts.