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Purity 101

The Fake Death That Nearly Became A Real Suicide

By Olivia McLeod

      Sighing deeply, I watched a flock of geese fly overhead, their loud honk-honking echoing over the valley. I wiped at the fresh droplets of perspiration on my forehead and continued the task at hand: garbage patrol. My activities marked the end of a fun week of summer camp; or at least it had been fun until the bus that my church youth group should have been currently driving home in had broken down. It was being fixed in a shop a few hours away.
     We would be leaving fairly soon to pick it up, but in the meantime, our group had volunteered to help by cleaning up the camp. My friend, Laney, was helping me do a few odd jobs here and there and, quite frankly, we were bored to no extent. When our tasks were finally finished, we set off to find the rest of the group.
     We found our friends spread out at the paddleboat dock, not bored like us, but teary. Even the boys' eyes glistened with unshed tears! "Ok, these guys don't cry," I thought, "something really strange must be going on here."
     "What's the matter with them?" I asked Laney. She just shrugged in return. So we both went to Austin, one of the teens standing by, and asked him what was happening. But we weren't prepared for the story he proceeded to tell us.
     While we girls had been helping clean, the boys from our church had gone to their cabin to hang out. They decided to make a horror movie that had a dead man hanging in the bathroom. Devon, (the teen in charge at that time) decided that he would be that dead man. The boys took some rope and tied it to a pole over the toilet. Then, Devon climbed onto the toilet, and the guys tied the dangling rope loosely around his neck.
     Devon waited there as the other boys went outside to film the opening scene. As he waited for them to come in and discover his "dead" body, Devon tried to make the scene even more realistic. Tightening the rope around his neck, he hung his head down and slouched forward. Devon's pose was realistic, a little too realistic. His air supply blocked by the tight rope, Devon momentarily blacked out and fell with his full weight onto the improvised noose.
     Outside the bathroom, the boys had just finished acting out one of the parts and were heading back when they heard a thump from the other side of the bathroom door. "What was that?" they wondered.

 

     "Guys, help me!"
     The boys rushed through the door to see Devon on the floor, half of the broken rope still choking his throat. They removed it as quickly as they could, revealing a bleeding, red mark encircling his neck.
     "'If that rope wouldn't have snapped, then I wouldn't have been playing the dead man, I would have been the dead man.' Devon told us. 'That rope was a really tough rope; only God could have broken that.'" As Austin finished telling us the story, tears stung my eyes at the thought that we'd nearly lost a friend that day. I was struck by the realization that I'd been wallowing in self-pity over having to pick up Coke cans at the very moment that Devon could have died, ending his own life and changing all our lives forever.
     After Austin finished the story, everyone decided to go into the chapel and thank God for sparing Devon's life. We also started to apologize to God for all the sinful things that we'd been doing before that week. The other boys apologized to Devon for nearly killing him, but Devon didn't blame them. He said that since he was in charge, he could have told them not to do the dead man scene, but instead he went along with them, so it was his own fault.
     At last it was time to go home, and everyone attempted to forget what had happened and just be normal. What we couldn't deny, though, is that our lives had been changed in some way. A few people were making phone calls and telling their parents through tears how sorry they were for back talking and disobeying. Some were surrendering to God's call on their life that they'd been resisting for some time.
     As a group, we would always remember what had happened at teen camp and how merciful and powerful God was. Devon claims that God had used that incident as a wake-up call for our teen group, telling us to get busy for Him because something could happen to us tomorrow and, just like that, we'd be gone.
     I decided that from that moment on I would serve God as much as I could--nothing else really matters to me. I'm not saying that I'm not allowed to enjoy things here on earth, just that I cannot let anything be more important to me than God. If there is anything at all that is keeping me from Him, then I need to ask Him for forgiveness. I need Him. He's what really matters in life!                                                        -Olivia McLeod

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