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Fighting Racism

by Ryan L. Gibbons

Millions of happy people screamed and cheered, “Obama! Obama!” as our new African American president stepped onto the inaugural podium on January the 20th, 2009. Wait a moment! On that day, it seemed, we were turning a brand new page in history. Sadly, America and the world are still not free from the crippling prejudice called racism that began with sin and slavery.

One time when I felt the unpleasant sting of prejudice went like this. About three years ago, on the west coast of the U.S.A., I was at a gym where teams were picked for Dodge Ball. I felt uncomfortable being the last one chosen, automatically leaving only a little chubby girl behind for the other team. Looking around, I tried to figure out why. I was physically bigger than some of the children (slim boys and girls), equal to most in strength, and even played better than a few of them. I was different in only one way - the only brown person in my group. I thought that was very unfair, but I said nothing until today. We eventually got along well after a few months of more time together. Still, some individuals, groups, and even the justice system seem to show bias against people because of their skin colour or nationality. That is like not accepting a valuable gift because you don’t like the wrapping.

Now in 2009 we must all try our best not to base our friendships, or the decisions we make, on the wrong things. We must try not to hate or shun people because of the color of their skin, or how they look. God made different races because He loves variety. Do you?

Have you ever been treated wrongly because you are different in the way you look or sound? Do you know anybody in your church, school, or grade who is having a hard time making friends because of his/her race? Try to include a variety of people in your life; choose helpful friends with good, strong characters; and encourage your loved ones to do the same! Then tell us how it works out for you. Share your thoughts.


Say No (Part 2)

by Ryan L. Gibbons - January 2009

Can you believe that seventeen people died in automobile accidents on Bermuda’s roads during 2008? I also heard on the news that as much as 70% of those car/bike accidents were due to alcohol. This means that each one of those fatalities, mostly of young people, was absolutely preventable.

I learned that alcohol causes people to have accidents because it numbs the senses. It causes imbalance, and slows down the drinker’s reflexes or response time, leading to more accidents. Also, binge drinking (drinking spree of a lot of alcohol in a short time) may sound like fun, but may be fatal.

It is true that a ‘legal’ substance like alcohol can kill you and hurt many other people in your life. So the next time you are tempted to take “just one” (or another) sip of beer, wine, wine coolers, rum, liquor or spirits, STOP and seek help from a trusted adult. Remember that a cool habit will never ruin your life; and that drug or alcohol abuse is never cool no matter how old you are!

Alcohol, remember, will lower your grades, spoil your relationships, ruin your health, and separate your family. Best of all, Remember that God will help you do, “all things through Christ,” if you ask him. Don’t throw your life away by becoming an alcoholic. Say, “No” to the first/next drink.

If you have a story about how someone helps you stay strong and not abuse drugs or alcohol, then your friends here want to hear it. By sharing you will help someone else to stay sober. Sharing will help you have a great new year too!

Say No (Part 1)

by Ryan L. Gibbons - November 30, 2008

They lower your grades, spoil your relationships, ruin your health, and separate your family. I have seen young people, not much older than myself, throw their lives away by abusing drugs. This handsome smart guy that I know is out of school, and cannot live at home anymore. He is now an addict, all because he started using drugs. Many like him are now on the street, at the mental hospital, or in jail.

People say, “It makes you feel good;” or, “It’s harmless.”
They say things like, “Just a little bit;” or, “A little won’t hurt.”
Don’t fall for it. It is always dangerous, and a little might get you addicted for life.

When you think about drugs, most times you think of cocaine, cannabis, heroin, and other illegal substances. Lots of drug users, especially youth, get high the easy way. They buy it from their local supermarket, pharmacy, or take it from their kitchen cupboards. You may not believe me, but it is true that some people abuse other ‘legal’ substances like pain relievers, cleaning agents, nail polish, paint removers, alcohol, tobacco (will discuss next time), and over-the-counter prescription drugs. This is dangerous. Cleaning agents, nail polish, and paint removers are poisonous. Over-the-counter drugs and medication can kill you if you overdose. A cool habit will never ruin your life. Drug abuse is not cool!

Have you ever experimented with drugs? Do you know anybody that has damaged their life with drugs? Do you have friends or family members pressuring you to try ‘just once?’

You don’t need it. Don’t start. Don’t let drugs ruin your life. Say, “No,” and walk away when drugs raise their ugly heads in your company. If you are using or are involved in the drug trade I would advise and encourage you to quit and get help! God will help you if you ask him. He says in his word that you can do, “all things through Christ . . .” This is serious. This involves YOUR life!!! 

Giving Thanks

by Alisha Raynor - November 30, 2008

It’s the end of November now, and as you know, it's Thanksgiving month. When the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock on November 9, 1620, they hardly knew how to survive in the new land. Seeing that they landed in the winter, these passengers would have it the hard way. Luckily, the Native Americans helped the pilgrims to survive by teaching them how to fish, trap animals for food and clothing, and farm. In return, the pilgrims invited the Native Americans to a great feast to give thanks to God and their new friends.

During Thanksgiving month and every other month of the year, we should also try to help others in need. Help a person who is less fortunate then you by letting them know that someone cares for them, by providing for them. Assist an older neighbour in household chores that they can’t do by themselves. Spend time with a lonely person. Make friends with someone who you normally wouldn’t hang out with. Me, I help out teachers before school starts so they can set up their classes quicker or use my musical talents to reach out to whoever needs an uplifting.

All of these tips will help you to become a better person, and make God proud. Be a Native American this upcoming Christmas month. It’s a time when someone needs just one person to cheer them up.

Make Me! 

by Ryan Gibbons - October 2008

There are bullies everywhere. They are at your job, your school, and even at your church. One of my first experiences with a bully happened in Long Island, NY, while I visited my mom's family during the summer of 2006. This is how it unfolded.

I was at lunch after church service, and I had just gotten my dessert, when a huge guy about my age (or probably even younger) came over and actually commanded me to get him some more cake. Naive and fearless, I looked at him and said, "Get your own cake." At that point he demanded again, more forcefully than before. "No." I emphasized. "Who do you think you are? He said laughingly. "I think I am Ryan." I heard myself say boldly, while looking right into his face. The next thing I knew I was hanging like wallpaper by the collar. He threatened me to never tell. Then he let me go.

Of course, after leaving the lonely corridor, I went straight to tell my mom. She was very disturbed. We went directly to the boy's grandparents where we found out that there were other problems in the bully's life that made him a real victim. I forgave him; and he now avoids eye contact when I am around.

I was better prepared the next time a bully thought I looked like a good target. "Make me!" I shouted, stepping towards him, when another young man - this time in Bermuda - tried to stop me from walking past a certain point in a parking lot. He turned hesitantly and walked silently away from me.

One of the most important things about dealing with bullies is going to an adult as soon as possible and sharing what happened. It is not a good idea to try to deal with bullies by yourself or even with your friends; as then you will be helping no one - not yourself or the bully. Most times the problem is with the bully and not with the 'victim' who usually has more self-confidence. Sadly, bullies feel the need to intimidate, scare, or hurt people in order to feel good about themselves, or to think that they're in charge.
Although some parts of my story may make you laugh, it is important to remember that bullying is not a laughing matter. Have you ever been bullied? Did you forgive and forget? Are you being seriously bullied now? Do you know anybody who is? Do you think being bullied affects your life and how you feel about yourself? It helps to share.

Break the Chain

By Alisha Raynor; 13 years old

Most pre-teens and teens have email addresses. I do too, but I try to use it wisely. There is one email that annoys a lot of people and causes trouble. Not junk mail, chain mail. This email is almost always a waste of time. Why? Well, from research, chain mail takes up unwanted space on your computer. They can carry viruses and other people can see your information. It is also can seem life threatening to others.

A Sample Chain Mail: Renee was in love with a guy named Rick. Rick went out with her and she believed that he loved her. But Rick loved another girl, and when Renee found out, she got depressed. Eventually, she became so depressed that she hung herself. Send this message to at least 15 people or Renee’s ghost will come and kill you because she wants everyone to know what happened to her.

Vicki got this email, and she thought it was just another dumb chain mail message and deleted it. That night, when she was asleep, Renee’s ghost came and strangled Vicki to death. If you want to live, send this mail to 15 people, or end up like Vicki.

OK, let’s straighten out that sample chain mail. If this happened before the message was sent, how would the first sender know if that happened to anyone because they were just being smart? Obviously that was just made up, because how would Vicki know what would happen if she didn’t send that message? Just because a girl died doesn’t mean that she needs everyone to know what happened to her. She can’t send messages if she died, so why would that be real?

God doesn’t want us to fall for stupid things like chain mail. Basically, what these messages are saying is that if you don’t do this, you’ll suffer the “consequences”. In Matthew 26:41 NIV, it says: "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." In Luke 22:40 NIV, the verse says to pray that you will not fall into temptation. These verses mean that you shouldn’t send around worthless emails. I got a really scary message recently, and I deleted it. The message told me that if I didn’t send the message, I would see something horrible that night and die from it. I know that it is possible, by the forces of evil, but I prayed and sang to God until I finally fell asleep. I’m still alive today, so what is there to worry about?

Wait Up!

by Ryan Gibbons - September 2008

Hi. I’m Ryan, and I am 13 years old. I live with my family on the beautiful island of Bermuda.
About a year ago my sister Lindsay arranged to pet-sit our cousin’s hamster while she was away on holiday. For Lindsay, a budding veterinarian, this was a chance to spend even more time with another pet that she had grown to love. She took great care of Precious – placing her in just the right spot in her bedroom, timing feedings and cage cleaning as instructions said, and giving the tiny ball of fluff lots of love and attention. Then it happened. Malisa, her cousin and close friend was back home. Eager to see her tiny friend again, she showed up at our house a day earlier than Lindsay expected, and promptly took the little fellow home. Lindsay was sooo sad at ‘loosing' the rodent. She cried and cried, not because she wanted to keep Precious. She cried and cried, because she thought she had just one more day of time to slowly say goodbye. She was taken by surprise, making cousin Malisa - and me - sad too.

Do you find that sad things happening faster than you can deal with them? For example, Is there much more violence among 13-19 year olds than when our parents were growing up? It certainly seems that way to me based on the stories told, and based on the tragic death of a brilliant young man whose family I actually know.

Up to very recently I wouldn’t even bat an eye when I heard about violence on the radio, TV, or internet. It all seemed light-years away. The disturbing thing about the violence is that we are getting much too accustomed to teens attacking other teens. Most, if not all of you, will agree with me that God our protector and friend cringes as He sees young men and women annihilate each other.

What do your family and friends think about this situation? Why do you think these heart-wrenching things happen?
Do the cool thing. Take some time to share your feelings and views with our readers here and around the world; and see you next time.

Meat Or No Meat: What Does The Bible Say?
Part 1
Recently, I completed this interesting investiture assignment. It was right before leaving for the Pathfinder Courage to Stand Camporee, 2009 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I would like to share with you what I discovered about why many people may choose to eat only foods that come from plants.
Although God gave permission for humans to eat meat, the Bible shows that those were not the 1st instructions given to man about the food he should eat. In this report I will try to answer the burning question, “What does the Bible really say about vegetarianism vs. meat eating?”
In the beginning (Genesis 1: 29& 30 NIV), when his creation was very good, God gave the original diet to Adam, Eve, and to all creeping things. The diet was, 
“Every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth.” They were given, “every tree that has fruit with seed in it.” To them it was to be for ‘meat’.
Opinions may be different, but just as a manufacturer recommends gasoline for a car or diesel for a truck to run best, so God gives humans the specific fuel for the best growth, health, and strength. He Adam and Eve, and gives every green herb to every thing that creeps upon the earth. So even the animals were vegetarian. Believe it or not, they didn’t even eat vegetables! The Bible says that our first parents ate fruits nuts, and grains.
Then, in the Bible, we read about the first time God gave permission for people to eat meat. Did God change His mind? Read next time to find out more, including learning how to find tasty recipes that you can prepare for your family and friends.
© By Ryan L. Gibbons
For Southampton, Bermuda SDA Webpage; August 26, 2009

Meat Or No Meat: What Does The Bible Say?
Part 2
Yes. As we said last time, God gave “Every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth.” Then he gave permission for people to eat meat. Did God change His mind?
No. What changed then? In Genesis chaps. 7 & 8, the Bible tells the story of food after the flood. It was an emergency situation because most of the vegetation was destroyed by the flood.
Just like the manufacturer who gives a manual with his car, God, in the Bible, also gave some rules and restrictions to the eating of meat. In Leviticus chapter eleven, God helps Moses to separate clean meats from unclean meats. Leviticus 7:22-27 talks about how blood and fat in meat were not to be eaten; and Leviticus 11: 39-40 tells how people were to avoid touching carcasses. Daniel 1: 8, 12-15 also mentions Daniel and his friends in the best of health, “fairer and fatter,” because they chose plant food and water - instead of the king’s meat and wine.
[Up to Genesis chapter 5, the Bible describes giant vegetarians before the flood living for hundreds of years. Adam lived to 930years, and Methuselah, 969years.
On the other hand, after the flood, 900-year life-spans became 500, then 120years while people continued to eat meat even when vegetation was sufficient food for everyone. Smaller men lived (live today) shorter lives.]
So, according to the Bible, we were all vegetarians in the beginning. Then came necessity and God giving emergency meat for food. Bible experts have charts to show humans growing smaller and smaller, and living shorter and shorter lives after meat eating started. Prophecy says that in the last days people will return to the original diet. It looks like vegetarianism is the Bible’s idea of the best diet for man where possible.
Do you know any vegetarians? Have you tried vegetarian cuisine? Have you seen ‘veggie’ cookbooks on store shelves or on the ‘coffee’ table at someone’s house? Listen for announcements on Vegetarian Cooking classes at a church or community center near you. Tell us about the new fun and tasty recipes that you read and try. See you next time, when I will share one of my favorite recipes with you.
 © By Ryan L. Gibbons
For Southampton, Bermuda SDA Webpage; August 26, 2009      
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