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The Dream – Hope for the Bullied
 

A Baptist minister explains why he wrote a Christian novel for children about bullying   



The DreamMy book, The Dream, was inspired by personal experience: I too had a recurring dream in which I was being pursued by… I knew not what. Just like Oliver Carrick’s, my dream had a successful conclusion – I had an encounter with the living God. My journey to faith, healing and restoration was very different from that of the Carrick family but, like them, I had to learn to trust and allow faith to build in my life.

The Dream focuses on Oliver Carrick – an insecure 13-year-old boy from a broken, dysfunctional family. He is not only severely bullied at school, but at home his stepdad bullies and abuses him and will not allow any love to be shown to him by his mum. Eventually, following another dream, he runs away from home in the desperate hope of meeting someone he has encountered in his dream, someone who does care and who will help him. In the course of the story he meets up with Jess, a slightly older girl, and they team up to pursue their quest – they have to find the house both have dreamed about. That house, they believe, holds the secret of their future happiness.

Although it is not immediately obvious, it is a Christian novel and in the final chapters its message is one of hope and healing through the love of Almighty God in Jesus Christ. My hope is that in reading the book, adults and children alike will discover that no matter what their problems are – how deep, painful and far-reaching – God knows, God sees and God cares. Many today may be totally unaware of God, but that does not mean that He is unaware of them or their circumstances. For many, the only thing they lack is the trigger, the means, the love that will open up the way for them to discover the love, care and compassion that God has for them.

This is where the Church comes in: just as Jesus reached out to all in need, so we are called to be ministers of His grace and His compassion. Any mention of God’s love to someone who is being abused may cause him or her to ask, ‘Where was God when I needed Him?’ We the Church are the trigger – we are those whom God has sent to those who are hurting, and so, with love and gentleness, we are directed to channel God’s healing power, breaking down barriers in the process.

It is not enough for the Church of Almighty God to believe that God knows, God sees and God cares: as James says, “Do not merely listen to the word … Do what it says” (James 1:22). God always intended that His Church should be proactive, just as Jesus was, recognising that we live in a desperately broken and dysfunctional world. Jesus’ words were clear: “Heal the sick…” (Matthew 10:8). Sickness is not only physical; it can also be psychological and emotional. Bullying has always been with us and, as seen in the book, can devastate lives.

These days, however, it has taken on a new and pernicious aspect: cyberbullying, via mobile phones, for instance, means children cannot escape even at home. We the Church must be increasingly aware of the terrible consequences that can arise from this form of abuse and be on the lookout for those who might be displaying a change in their personality: maybe they have suddenly become sullen, angry, withdrawn or perhaps are abusing themselves. Such changes do not automatically indicate that they are being bullied; teenagers do display mood swings for a variety of reasons, and peer pressure has a lot to answer for.

However, being aware and gently caring for them and their families is essential. Time and effort may well open up opportunities to minister to them – to love them, care for them and address their needs. Maybe we need to have trained counsellors available who can draw alongside those who are desperately hurting inside. Building bridges with our communities (neighbours, etc.) is essential if we are going to help where help is needed. We must be there, be available and be non-judgemental – a necessity if we are going to win people’s trust.

My passion for writing began many years back in secondary school; our English teacher encouraged us to read and then to use what we’d learned to improve our own writing skills. However, it was not till many years later, when I was married with a family, that writing took on a new and vital aspect. My children loved bedtime stories, but they did not just want me to read to them, they wanted me to tell my own stories – dad stories. I obliged, and from there I began to write out the stories I had told. The Dream is my first Christian novel for children, and it is my hope that this book will, for some who are bullied, begin to address their needs and enable them to grasp that there is hope and there is someone who cares. For others, perhaps the book will alert them to the damage and distress that bullying can cause and maybe encourage them to become catalysts for change. Anything that helps to change the bullying culture can only be good.

What will come next? A good question; I can only say I will write what I feel inspired to write – I await that inspiration.
 
 
The Dream by David J Bailey is published by Instant Apostle (ISBN 978-1-909728-77-6, RRP £6.99) and is available from bookshops and online retailers.

David J Bailey is married to Gillian, with three children and six grandchildren. After a career in engineering and later as a Baptist minister, he retired in 2005. Writing has always been his passion

 

Baptist Times, 07/04/2018
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