Every 11.5 Minutes – Suicide: Dealing with the Darkness

Every 11.5 Minutes Suicide: Dealing with the Darkness

Several recent, high-profile tragedies have thrust an extremely painful subject into the forefront of the national consciousness.

In the United States, someone commits suicide every 11.5 minutes. And for every successful suicide attempt, there are 25 unsuccessful attempts. About 6,000 people commit suicide every year in the United Kingdom, but as bad as that is, there are more than 50 countries that have a higher suicide rate than Great Britain.

There are a lot of people hurting, a lot of people living without hope — and more than likely some of them are living within your sphere of influence. Most everyone has been affected by suicide, and it happens to people both in and out of the church.

Suicide is no respecter of age, race, gender, or social standing.

If you struggle with suicidal thoughts, or if you feel like your life is hopeless or that you don’t mean anything to anyone, you can know there are people who do care, and there are people who will help. And if you feel you need help, please ask for help. Speak to a physician. A teacher. A parent. A counselor. A pastor or other person with spiritual wisdom and experience.

I’d love to tell you faith in God takes away the kind of anguish that leads to suicide, but even people of faith can struggle. Mental illness and emotional struggles are real. So how do we approach this from a Biblical perspective?  

Remember this: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10. That’s God saying He’s there for you.  

In life, it isn’t that we want the struggles taken away entirely. We want strength to get through our challenges, our dark times. God promises you that. Don’t cave in to that impulse to think you’re not worth anything or that you don’t matter. There’s a very real spiritual battle going on that everyone is caught in the midst of, a battle in which the devil wants people to lose hope in God.  

A friend of mine, a man I’ll call Phil, felt like he simply couldn’t go on. He had made plans to end his life and was driving to the place where he intended to do so. For some reason, Phil stopped to fill his vehicle with gas. While he was pumping gas into his truck, a man he barely knew saw him and called his name. When Phil responded, the man asked him what he was doing the coming Tuesday night. “Well, I don’t have anything planned,” Phil replied.  

“I’d like to invite you to a Bible study at my house,” the man continued. “I’d just love it if you could make it.”

Phil thought a moment. “Sure,” he said. “I’ll be there. Why not?”

Phil attended the study and went back again and again. He surrendered His life to Jesus and went on to dedicate many years of his life to being a youth leader in his church. Phil often preaches in his local church.

Depression, loneliness, despair, deep pain, and feelings of worthlessness can push a person into some dark places. But regardless of the circumstances in your life, there is hope, because God offers hope and a future. An eternal future.

Don’t lose hope. If dark thoughts crowd your mind, or if you know someone battling with depression, seek help. And lean on God.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline (United States): 1-800-273-8255

The Guatemala Volcano Tragedy: A First-Hand Account

The Guatemala Volcano Tragedy: A First-Hand Account

We stood on what was essentially a glacier of sand, ash, and rock. It had snaked its way relentlessly down from the 12,500 feet summit of Volcan de Fuego, the Volcano of Fire, in southern Guatemala. Fuego has been erupting more or less constantly — and harmlessly — for the better part of the last twenty years. Apart from a false alarm in 2012 when 33,000 people evacuated, Fuego hasn’t done much more in recent times than beat its chest and belch smoke into the air.

As we stood in its shadow, the giant was still emitting smoke, but gently rather than a roar. But three weeks ago, before our It Is Written team arrived, Fuego roared. The desolation on which we stood was deceptive. There was no way we could know that we were standing where a town once stood.

The volcanic debris was piled up so high that heavy equipment operators were digging through thirty feet of piled up ash and dust to reach the road and clear it for use. We stood level with what once was the second-floor level of several houses. Virtually all buildings were completely buried. People had been trying since the initial eruption on June 3 to dig out buried family members.

While official figures state that two hundred people are still missing, one man told us he is certain at least 1,500 are still unaccounted for. Another told us that he has lost at least seventy family members in the tragedy. As one person told our team, “In many cases entire families have been killed. They’ve simply disappeared. There’s nobody looking for them, no one to report them as missing.”

As we filmed in what was once the village of San Miguel Los Lotes, a family waited for earth-moving equipment to arrive. The bodies of the man’s brother and his family are buried in the first-floor area of their home. Only the second story rises up out of the ash and debris. Why did the family not flee? “They couldn’t,” their relatives told us. “They had a disabled daughter and weren’t able to get her out. So they stayed.”

In spite of very clear warnings, many others chose to remain when they could have fled. “Some believed that if they locked the door of their home and shut themselves inside, they would be safe,” Rosa Chacón told us. Rosa volunteers for a government agency that issues emergency warnings when Fuego threatens. “I urged so many people to leave, to get to safety. They wouldn’t listen.”

Just a few yards from us in San Miguel Los Lotes a church once stood. Now it is entirely covered by the remnants of Fuego. The worshipers in the church were aware the volcano was threatening, and they received warnings to evacuate. Instead of heeding the warnings, they chose to remain in the church and pray that God would protect them. The entire congregation perished in the volcano.

As dust stirred by the heavy equipment was whipped through the area by gusting winds, a small crowd stood by as a yellow Cat digger removed bucket after bucket of volcanic debris. A body found while we were in the area lay covered by a pink sheet. The digger was stabilizing the area so the remains could be recovered. From there the digger would go the nearby home of the family with the disabled daughter to recover bodies there. The destitute families are covering the cost of hiring the digger and its operator as the government rescue and recovery mission has already ended.

As we were preparing to leave the area, a young man — maybe 18 years old — spotted someone holding several charred pages from a Bible. And with those pages — which included Luke 21 and the story of the widow’s mite — was part of a small sheet of pink paper. There were large letters on the page, written in pencil. While it was impossible to read the entire message, it was clearly part of what was once a card given to mark a special occasion.

The young man recognized it as soon as he saw it. “Please, may I see that paper you are holding,” he said to the missionary holding the page. “Yes, that’s it!” he said, clearly having found something very special.

He was now holding the remnants of a Mother’s Day card he had made for his mother years before. But while he had found what was left of the card, he had not yet found his mother. She was buried in the river of debris that had engulfed the family home. She was somewhere nearby, ten feet or so beneath where we stood. The young man wiped away tears.

Thank you for supporting It Is Written mission projects around the world. Please pray for our team in Guatemala and support It Is Written mission projects at itiswritten.com/give.

It Is Written Wins Six Telly Awards

It Is Written Wins Six Telly Awards: 39th Annual Silver Winner, 39th Annual Bronze Winner

It Is Written is pleased to announce that its production team has won six Telly Awards. The Telly Awards honors excellence in video on all screens and received over 12,000 entries this year from all over the country and the world. It Is Written’s “A Lamp Unto My Feet” won a silver award in the General Biography category, competing against others like NBC Sports Group, CBS Sports, Telemundo, and In Touch Ministries. “Effective Prayer” won two bronze awards for General Religious/Spiritual and General Education. Another General Religious/Spiritual bronze award was given to “The Holy City.” “Rome and the Reformation” received a bronze award for General History. Escrito Está, It Is Written’s Spanish-speaking ministry, won a bronze award for “Desmond Doss: El héroe de Okinawa” (“Desmond Doss: The Hero of Okinawa”) in the General Religious/Spiritual category.

“I continue to be so proud of our entire team,” said Speaker/Director John Bradshaw. “This recognition shows not only that our It Is Written team is working at an extremely high standard, but that there’s a genuine commitment to excellence in ministry. Good work means successful ministry. Our staff, and those who make this ministry possible — our Partners and supporters — can know that we’re working as effectively as possible to reach souls for God.”

Watch the award-winning programs:

It Is Written and Local Church Partner to Aid Guatemala Volcano Victims

It Is Written and Local Church Partner to Aid Guatemala Volcano Victims

It Is Written and Escrito Está are partnering with a local Spanish-American church in Collegedale, Tennessee to help the victims of the volcano eruption in Guatemala. On June 3, Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupted, killing nearly 100 and leaving almost 200 missing. The country’s government estimates that 1.7 million people were affected. Displaced families need medical attention, clothing, and help rebuilding their lives.

From June 21 to early July, 40 volunteers including It Is Written staff members and local church members will conduct a mission trip in Antigua Guatemala, a city within a few miles of the volcano. The mission group will offer health services, clothing, and provide financial support for rebuilding infrastructure in the devastated areas. They will hold medical clinics in both Antigua Guatemala and Escuintla, where most of the shelters are. The group plans to purchase tents to provide temporary housing for those who lost their homes or became displaced by the volcano. The mission group will also be reaching out to specifically help children impacted by the disaster.

We are currently gathering supplies. Please help us meet this urgent need by donating now and selecting “Humanitarian Projects.” Right now, your gift will go directly to help the people of Guatemala. Thank you for your support.

Donate now

For Such a Time as This

God at Work in Rome

On May 19, the It Is Written evangelistic series in Rome, Italy ended on a high note: 27 baptisms and many more people preparing for baptism! This is the result of much work and prayer. These numbers really are phenomenal when you consider that this evangelistic series was just one mile from St. Peter’s Basilica.

Mariarosa Cavalieri, the local evangelism coordinator for this project, received her evangelism training at SALT, It Is Written’s evangelism training school. Returning home to Italy, she worked tirelessly for more than a year with the pastors and members of the four churches in Rome that were participating in this evangelistic outreach.

Mariarosa

Behind the numbers are inspiring stories of people God had long ago prepared for such a time as this.

Marco had been drifting through life when he made contact with church members. They invited him to study the Bible, and as he did, Marco felt God calling him to surrender his life to Him and accept Jesus as His Savior. But life in Rome is filled with the distractions of a busy, bustling city, and Marco’s background in the Catholic church had left him feeling jaded towards religion. When Marco heard the message of the Bible, his heart was stirred. He met with the local church pastor and declared that he was ready to commit his life fully to Jesus. Marco was baptized on the final day of the evangelistic series.

When the Leone family attended It Is Written meetings in Rome eight years ago, the tires of their car were slashed. Refusing to be discouraged, they persevered in their faith, and during this It Is Written series they had reason to rejoice when their nineteen-year-old son, Giorgio, was baptized.

Three years ago in Moldova, Magdalena was diagnosed with a rare and potentially deadly disease. In order to receive the best medical care possible, Magdalena moved to Italy. While under treatment, she became acquainted with a Christian family and started taking Bible studies.This past January, after one year of intensive treatment, she was declared disease-free. Then in May, the family invited her to the It Is Written evangelistic series. At the end of Pastor John Bradshaw’s meetings, she was baptized. This has truly been a great year for Magdalena.

Jacob and Trust fled to Italy from Nigeria two years ago. They crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Africa to Italy crammed into a small boat. They described their experience from Nigeria as “horrific,” witnessing the beating and deaths of many people along the way. They arrived in Italy to a new life without fear and with the hope of a bright future and made friends with Christian believers who invited them to attend the It Is Written meetings. On May 19, both Jacob and Trust were baptized. Jacob is now considering becoming a pastor!

Julia grew up in the church in Brazil, but she drifted away from faith in God. Although she forgot about God, God never forgot Julia. Around the same time she started recognizing God’s voice, she connected with Sara, another Brazilian living in Rome. Sara was a member of one of the churches participating in the It Is Written evangelism project and invited Julia to attend. Julia attended with her atheist husband and was deeply affected by the moving of the Holy Spirit. Julia is now preparing for baptism!

For a time such as this God brought It Is Written to Rome so that Marco, Giorgio, Magdalena, Jacob, Trust, Julia, and many others could be blessed by the refreshing word of God. Even though our meetings are now over, the work is far from done. Mariarosa, the pastors, and the church members in Rome are committed to keeping the momentum going. They are so thankful for the “push” they have received in a place where evangelism is very difficult. As Mariarosa said, “God has brought us closer to one another and has motivated us to serve Him more.”

The best is yet to come in Rome and beyond.

Names have been changed.

People Are Watching

God at Work in Rome

Rosa, who lives across the street from a church in Rome, had noticed that the people going to that church were a little different. Good different. The members and their children were courteous and always respectful of their neighbors. And there was also something special about the way they interacted with one another. “Nice people,” she thought. And so for years, Rosa watched with an ever-growing desire to connect with the people of that church. What they had, she desired. And one day, it happened. She was standing in front of her apartment building talking to a neighbor when a church member politely approached them and gave them an invitation to a special series of meetings: “The Future Is a Beautiful Story” with Pastor John Bradshaw. 

The audience listens intently as Pastor John Bradshaw and his translator present the evening message.

Unlike most people who simply throw away handbills, Rosa excitedly returned to her apartment clutching the invitation. She finally had connected with one of the people at the church, and they had invited her to one of their programs! With great anticipation, she decided to go, and she was not disappointed. John Bradshaw that night preached on the glorious return of Jesus. Wow! Rosa had never heard anything like this before. Her heart was filled with joy.

Rosa is not the only one whose life is being transformed by what she is hearing. Burnt-out church members, young adults, and silver-haired elders are among the many who, on a nightly basis, are being refreshed by the powerful Word of God. One of the attendees is a gentleman who drives 120 miles one way to hear the messages. Someone told him he could watch it all online and didn’t have to drive. He responded, “It’s not the same thing as being there in person.”

Each night a book is given to an audience member.

Please pray for all of these precious people attending our meetings. They are hearing wonderful truths and its turning their world upside down or, actually, right side up. Many of them are gearing up for baptism next weekend. Also remember that there are people in your own community, just like Rosa, who are watching and waiting for an invitation to hear the good news of God’s love for them.

God at Work in Rome

God at Work in Rome

Amelia’s life was spiraling out of control because of repeated bad decisions. She’d been away from God for over 20 years. A few weeks ago, she woke up in the middle of the night with a deep impression that God was calling her. Moved that God still had an interest in her, Amelia told her Christian sister about the nighttime encounter. That’s when her sister invited her to a series of Bible presentations at her church entitled, “Il Futuro É Una Storia Belissima” (The Future Is a Beautiful Story) with Pastor John Bradshaw. The first presentation particularly touched her heart as Pastor John talked about his own journey and how he found peace and joy in God. Amelia later confided to her sister that it was so fortunate that this Bible series is happening just after her nighttime encounter with God.

Fortunate? We don’t think so. It’s by divine appointment that Pastor John is presently in Rome, Italy, and that Amelia, like many others, is attending this eye-opening two-week series. Every night so far, the church has been full of people from all walks of life and different cultures with one thing in common: a desire to genuinely know God’s will for their lives.

Pastor John Bradshaw and his translator, Gianfranco Irrera, present at the church on weekends.

An enthusiastic audience enjoys John’s messages.

Home meetings are off to a great start!

Of course where good things are happening, the devil has to show up and attempt to disrupt it all. He almost succeeded on opening night. Before the meeting started, all the technology (video and audio) worked seamlessly. Everything had been tested multiple times. However, when the meeting started the video projector ceased to function. The tech guys did all the stuff tech guys do but to no avail. Thank God there was a second video projector in the building that was quickly connected and the program forged ahead. Bad luck? No. The enemy of God at work. But where God is present, the devil will never prevail.

Instead of doing the meetings at the church during the week, we are doing them in people’s homes across the city. Why? After a long day’s work it’s more convenient for people to go to a place near their home. Last night we were at the home of Carlo and Lucia. We weren’t sure what to expect. To our astounding surprise, over 60 people squeezed into an apartment to hear Pastor John teach (the photo doesn’t show the people behind John and in the other room). People in Rome are hungry for the Word of God.

Please keep our meetings in your prayers.  And please remember Amelia and all the guests searching and seeking a better life in Christ. Our meetings run every night until May 19.

No Card, No Problem

Revelation Today: A New Day Is Dawning — Updates From Kansas City

We are on the homestretch of our Revelation Today series in Kansas City. The Holy Spirit has used Pastor John Bradshaw powerfully to speak to the hearts of people. In inspired verbal strokes, he has painted a clear picture of the imminent return of Jesus. As a result, Steve, like many others, is making life-changing decisions.

Elizabeth, Steve’s wife, is so excited about her husband’s spiritual progress. Six months ago, she would never have imagined witnessing this kind of miracle unfold before her eyes. He simply wasn’t interested in attending a series of meetings like this before. During the weekend meetings, he sits right next to her near the front. He cannot attend during the week because of the distance of his work from Kansas City but he watches the meetings via live stream at his home. He has not missed one presentation.

The other night I was glancing at the decision cards and noticed that Steve had made a decision for baptism. I was so happy that I went looking for him to congratulate him. No Steve. However, I found Elizabeth and asked her where Steve was. “Oh,” she said, “he’s not here.” “He’s not here?” I responded. “Then how did he fill out this card?” That’s when I noticed that twinkle in Elizabeth’s eyes. With the biggest smile I have ever seen, she explained that he texted her the responses he wanted on the card and on his behalf she turned the card in. He wasn’t about to let distance prevent him from letting Jesus know what his decision was. No card, no problem.

This is just one of the many amazing stories unfolding in Kansas City. Decisions are being made and people are being baptized. And this coming Saturday, it will be Steve’s turn.

Man baptized at Revelation Today in Kansas City

Decisions are being made for baptism. Soon many more people will be baptized, including Steve.

Woman baptized at Revelation Today in Kansas City

Some names have been changed.

The Big Picture

Revelation Today: A New Day Is Dawning — Updates From Kansas City

Our Revelation Today meetings in Kansas City are well underway, and God’s word continues to impact the lives of those who attend. For over a year, Bible workers have been preparing the area through one-on-one Bible studies, prayer meetings, and smaller evangelism campaigns. The stories from the meetings are pouring in, and we wanted to share a few of them with you.

After one of the meetings Abigail was talking with her friend Evelyn. Evelyn shared that her picture of religion was a constant message of, “You don’t measure up.” The two discussed that the true gospel message is a message about Jesus and acceptance. Evelyn had always had a hard time studying the Bible–it never made sense or she didn’t get anything from it. But Abigail reminded her that she needed to only look for one thing, the big picture: “That’s what John does,” Abigail said, referring to Pastor Bradshaw’s evening meetings. “Each night he shares with us a Bible principle: trust God; God is for us; Jesus is with you. When you have the big picture,” she continued, “hang that picture in your mind so that it helps you every day of your life.” Evelyn mulled this over and then said, “John is hanging a lot of pictures in my mind this week!” She then shared how her mother had come to similar meetings in the past and would come home all excited. “I didn’t understand why she was so fired up. Now, I get it.”

Stephanie and her friend Olivia have been studying the Bible together for about a year. Every time they got together to study, and even when Olivia started going to church, she invited a neighbor, family member, or friend to join her. They almost always declined but she kept asking. During the weeks leading up to the start of the Revelation Today meetings in Kansas City, scheduling conflicts prevented Stephanie and Olivia from studying together like they usually did, and Stephanie was having a hard time reaching Olivia: “I began calling Olivia a week before the meetings started to remind her about them. She didn’t answer, so I left a message. I called opening night to invite her again but I had to leave another message. I texted her two more nights to let her know what the topics were for each meeting. Again, no response.

“On the fifth day of the meetings, Friday, I texted her and asked her if she was getting any of my messages, because it was unlike her to not respond back. A few minutes later she called me and explained that she had dropped her phone in water and it hadn’t been working. I told her about that evening’s Revelation Today topic, The Second Coming of Jesus, and gave her the location and time. Olivia said she was really interested in going but she had just gotten off work and looked terrible. I asked her where she was and she gave me the location. It wasn’t far from the convention center where the meetings were being held! ‘Get here, lady! I said, ‘This is a come-as-you-are-to-get-what-you-need’ kind of event, so come as you are to get what you need!’ Olivia responded, ‘All right, I’ll go.’ I greeted Oliva with a big hug, and we listened to the meetings together. Afterwards, she told me that she really needed to hear the message that Pastor Bradshaw shared: ‘I needed hope restored in my heart.’ I told her we that we all need more Jesus!  

“Olivia planned to come back the next night. And she did––but she didn’t come alone. Yes, after all the times that Olivia had invited people to our Bible studies and church, with no luck, she was finally able to bring a friend to one of the meetings! Both women enjoyed the presentation, and they look forward to the rest of the meetings.”

God is moving in Kansas City! Let’s keep praying for these meetings as they continue through the end of April.

Some names have been changed.

Off Script

Revelation Today: A New Day Is Dawning — Updates From Kansas City

Jane, a young professional, was invited to It Is Written’s opening night of Revelation Today in Kansas City on March 30. She came in very late because her GPS sent her around in circles for over an hour. She arrived so late that Pastor John Bradshaw was already two-thirds of the way through his presentation. A few moments after she settled in her chair, John said, “I wasn’t going to share this but I feel impressed to do so tonight.” He went on to share about a time he got lost and needed help navigating his way on a highway. “Remember I can see the big picture,” his wife, who was looking at the map on her phone, said to him when he called her for help. Pastor Bradshaw reminded the audience that God sees the whole picture and all we need to do is trust Him no matter what. As Jane left the meeting, she ran into the person who had invited her and told her with a smile that that story was exactly what she needed to hear that day. “I’m coming back tomorrow and I will be on time,” she added.

Jane is just one of the hundreds who are being tremendously blessed by Pastor Bradshaw’s timely messages. We have just completed four meetings and the presence of God is palpable. Whether it’s the main message or Scott Michael Bennett’s messages in songs, people are powerfully drawn to Jesus. After last night’s presentation on the final judgment, one of our attendees excitedly reported that she had never heard this message with such a Christ-centered emphasis. Pastor John repeated several times, “Jesus is our judge and appears before God FOR US.” For us: what a reassuring thought.

Jane heard it all because, as promised, she returned the next night and hasn’t missed a single presentation. Please keep Jane, everyone who is attending, and the It Is Written Revelation Today team in your prayers.

Names have been changed.