You name it, he was called it. Fat boy. Four eyes. Pizza face. Always the last one picked by team captains in junior- and high-school sports because they didn’t think the chubby kid was fast or athletic enough to play. He was bullied, tormented and beaten as a Pentecostal preacher’s kid. By today’s measurements, he fit the profile for kids who make an attempt at suicide.
Nearly one-quarter of tenth graders who reported being bullied also reported having made a suicide attempt in the past 12 months, according to a Washington State Healthy Youth Survey published June 18, 2019 by verywellfamily.com
Among 15- to 24-year-old teens and young adults, suicide is one of the leading causes of death, reports Suicide Awareness Voices for Education. Additionally, 16 percent of students consider suicide; thirteen percent create a plan, and eight percent act to end their lives.
Despite having Godly, loving parents, the boy with southern manners who said “yes, ma’am and no sir” to authorities lost all respect for his life. “I got to the point in my life where I felt so helpless that I wanted to end it all,” says David Besch, remembering vividly feelings of pain, hopelessness and rejection while holding a cocked .22 pistol to his head as a young man.
In a flash, Besch’s mind turned to his parents – Spirit-filled pastors whose grief over their son’s suicide would equal the depression that haunted him. They had witnessed signs of their son’s pleas for help from school-yard bullies. “I remember crying one night for fear of the next day after threats from a bully, and my dad finding me, asking ‘What’s wrong?’
“When he found out – there’s a spiritual side to this – my dad immediately went to work on my behalf. I remember him telling the principal in front of me, ‘You need to be sure there’s not going to be retaliation for talking to you about this,’” Besch recalls.
Retaliation and fear are reasons people do not admit they are bullied.
Thankfully, despite periodic episodes of bullying in high school, thoughts of suicide vanished as Besch grew five- to six-inches as a senior. This happened while traveling and playing the bass guitar with the Besch Family Gospel Singers, a southern gospel-style group that included his mom, two sisters and a brother, while their father preached in revivals, conferences and youth camps where hundreds were saved.
After high school, Besch worked out religiously in the gym and walked onto the Evangel College football team in Springfield, Missouri after never playing a down of football in junior- or senior-high school. As a defensive starter his sophomore year, he played nose guard and tackle at 262 pounds and lettered three years. At age 20, he had a girlfriend for the first time.
Graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Evangel, Besch married Steffani, who he met at the Assembly of God college. They moved to Colorado, where he continued ministry, pursued a career, played semi-professional football and practiced natural body building. “As a young, chubby boy, I was always intrigued with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno – especially Lou – because he was deaf, used to get bullied, and was made fun of,” says Besch.
At 179 pounds, Besch entered and placed in a Mr. Colorado natural body-building competition, and later another contest. “It was shortly after – I was still in really good shape – that I went to my 20-year class reunion in 2003, and nobody knew who I was,” he says.
Today, Besch is still physically fit, works out, and eats well. Earning a master’s degree in business administration, Besch manages a bank and ministers across the country with Steffani through speaking invitations, on television and radio, and through writing. They raised three boys – all Spirit-filled young adults working on marriage, career, ministry or college education – and share powerful testimonies of victory over bullying and the supernatural power of prayer. For Steffani, drowning, dying, going to heaven and back as a teenage girl is a miraculous story she shares as a speaker, while writing a book about her victory over death.
View Besch’s powerful preaching here: https://vimeo.com/graceplace/download/277472794/641d3ac9a9
Unfortunately, Besch knows from personal experience that bullying reaches beyond schoolyards into workplaces, where he’s confronted it head on and, as a biblical counselor with Steffani, in marriages, churches, families and neighborhoods.
In offices and pulpits, bullies act like the devil, who steals joy through spreading shame and feelings of self-worthlessness, kills spirits through false accusations, and destroys minds with distortions. Jesus, on the other hand, offers abundant life. (John 10:10).
“I had a bully in my office – a boss who was just trouble. He was humiliating to people including myself,” says Besch, who shares keys to overcoming obstacles – including bullies – teaching people how to enjoy life with principles from a book he authored, “From Bullied to Blessed.”
It contains over 100 Bible verses, a documented miracle, and a layman’s view of quantum physics with spiritual application. In his messages and in the book, Besch addresses bullying awareness, intervention and prevention. And, he says, forgiveness is a key to living a blessed life.
“There’s no bully, group of bullies or rejection out there that should drive us to that point (of suicide), but it happens,” Besch writes in chapter three, titled ‘What’s Your True Value?’ He quotes Matthew 6:26 in which the Lord Jesus asks, “Are you not much more valuable than they (sparrows)?”
Yet, for many people, bullying and rejection in schools, workplaces, relationships and on social media (cyberbullies) exact tolls, leading some to believe the lie that there’s nothing redemptive in their pain. “If I could have seen His plans, I would never even put that gun to my head,” says Besch.
Others turn feelings of rejection, hopelessness, depression and anxiety into revenge on innocent people. “When you look at school shootings, most of them – probably 90 percent of them – were committed by guys who were bullied,” Besch says.
According to US. government statistics, a small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. “In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied,” reports stopbullying.gov, a government website.
Besch likes to say he’s not a victim of bullying but a victor through Christ Jesus, and he acknowledges his experiences aren’t as traumatizing as others people have endured.
His pastor agrees Besch is anything but a victim. “‘Bullied To Blessed’ is an invitation to each of us to choose the empowered, overcoming mind of Christ, rather than a victim-hood mentality in all areas of our lives,” says Jonathan Wiggins, pastor at Rez. Church, where the Besch’s have been in ministry for over two decades.
Some forms of bullying and accompanying pain Besch doesn’t pretend to understand.
“There are people who’ve been through worse than what I’ve been through – people who’ve been molested, or suffered as a result of racial discrimination,” a topic along with a chapter on worship Besch may include in a future edition of the book.
After speaking at a church in Texas, a woman in her 60s talked to David and Steffani after a worship service about a terrible bully in the home: her husband. She was the victim of abuse and desperately in need of help to survive. The Besch’s prayed for her insisting that, beyond their care, the woman needed to stand up for herself by reporting the abuse to the Veteran’s Administration, a needed but fearful step toward her personal safety.
In Colorado, Besch entered into a bullying situation that was, well, close to home spiritually as well as physically. Gangs threatened physical harm to a 16-year-old boy already a victim of low self-esteem, a fatherless home, and verbal abuse for his weight – one of the reasons Besch was bullied.
As mentor, Besch encouraged the young man with the Word of God and an affirmation of a bright future. He also insisted on reporting incidents of bullying to school officials during two years of mentoring the young man. The two also prayed together for protection, one time as gang members entered a restaurant and sat at the table next to them.
“I could see the pain in his eyes – holding back the tears – he just let it all out,” Besch says.
Bullies come in many forms including cancer for which doctors recommend only chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Five years ago, that bully became too familiar with the Besch family when his mother was diagnosed with incurable cancer on a hospital bed in Texas. She told her son it wasn’t her time. “I flew to Texas, prayed and rebuked the demonic spirit of cancer, and three days later, it was gone completely,” says Besch, who prayed in an unknown tongue and in English.
“That’s something I do,” says Besch. “I think there’s a secret that I can’t even explain but, when I’ve been in a situation sometimes where there’s a bully or a conflict, I pray in the Spirit. It’s like the warring angels are just summoned, and they fight on your behalf.”
Bullies in the pulpit are real, too. “I think there are ministers who are bullies,” says Besch, who calls himself a strong believer in faith. “I think there are televangelists who are abusing the elderly by manipulating them to get their money,” he says.
Inspiration for Besch’s book, speaking ministry and mentoring comes from Christian authors including best-sellers Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers, T.D. Jakes and Dr. Caroline Leaf. Osteen, in particular, inspired Besch – who has read every one of the Lakewood Church pastor’s books – to write about his journey. On Osteen’s XM Radio program, Besch shared briefly about overcoming and writing “From Bullied to Blessed.” “I like that title,” Osteen told Besch, agreeing that life can be like a bully if the focus is on its negative aspects.
“You know the book is really about overcoming obstacles in our lives,” Besch says. “You know it’s about daily affirmations. I’m a total believer in daily affirmations – not the name-it-and-claim-it thing – but daily affirmations that declare you can be successful, you can be healthy, you can have peace, joy and contentment – not worry, fear and anxiety,” Besch says.
He tells audiences his take-home message is people living in righteousness, peace and joy. “That’s the story of who I am in Christ,” says Besch.
When he realized he was a child of God, more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus, and a product of his thought life, Besch used these and other biblical truths to “reprogram” his mind. “I do that everyday. I remove toxic thoughts out of my mind,” he says.
On those occasions when he gets down or discouraged, Besch turns to his Godly wife, who picks him up; likewise, when Steffani is down, he lifts her up. This year, they celebrate 31 years together. For at least 26 years of married life, every day in the Besch home begins with prayer, Bible reading and affirming each other with words of blessing, something Steffani says the Lord told her to do as David worked to pay their small home mortgage, working himself as mortgage banker early in his career.
“She started calling me blessed. So we pray together, then tell each other we’re blessed, I love you, you have favor, and have a great day. That’s how I leave the house every day. And when you hear that enough you start believing it.
“(For) couples who pray together, statistics say it’s one out of 1,500 who get a divorce, versus one of two among those who don’t pray daily. We take prayer very seriously. I prayed with her today,” Besch says.
They love their young adult sons and daughters-in-law, but there are times when the Besch’s like to be by themselves. “When I look at my life – my boys – and I forget about my check book, retirement, or anything like that, I feel like the wealthiest man in the world.
“I know some of the biggest, wealthiest, most influential people in Colorado – in Denver – people who have millions in net worth. They don’t have what I have. They’re either divorced, aren’t in love, have kids that are having problems or issues of some kind,” he says.
At one point in his career, Besch was deprived of sleep, working late-night jobs, then going to an office during the day with an infrequent nap in between. He experienced severe panic attacks, waking up in the middle of the night with terrorizing thoughts he had committed murder, or was on the verge of it. “At that time, I could see how somebody who has anxiety and panic would want to, literally, take their life.” As he had done in his youth, Besch turned to his dad in a 3 a.m. phone call to Texas seeking prayer from the pastor he knew best.
“Maybe that’s what I experienced as a kid, wondering what would happen the next day,” Besch says. The Besch’s goals in telling stories of overcoming obstacles – and in Steffani’s case death by drowning – is healing and restoration for people who need God’s supernatural power in their lives. “You know I don’t think my story’s that much different than a lot of people. I just think I want to offer people hope like Joel Osteen,” Besch says.
He wants his positive affirmations, words and thinking lifestyle to influence others because of the fruit in his personal life, marriage and ministry. “It’s scriptural, you know, there’s a lot of New Age authors and speakers out there that are talking about all this stuff.
“Most New Age practitioners use biblical principles, but they don’t give credit to God or the Bible,” Besch says. “You know, positive thoughts, if you think positive thoughts, if you speak positive and your actions are positive, then you’re going to live a blessed life.”
Trained in fine arts, real estate and business administration, Besch doesn’t shy away from talking about quantum physics, relying on the Bible as his textbook. He calls believers powerhouses with miraculous, supernatural dynamite on the inside, quoting from the Book of Joel, Proverbs and Hebrews to illustrate his points.
“I use the scripture that we’re wonderfully and fearfully made” to reinforce the idea that nobody should withstand bullying. “I don’t claim to be a physicist or anything, but I know that we have an incredible universe that we’re part of. When you look at the science part of it, I don’t know how you can think this is just chance,” he says.
For those who don’t have faith like his, Besch feels sorrows over life’s hurts and disappointments.
“The Word says that in the last days men’s hearts will fail them for fear of what’s coming on the earth. And, so, I think that’s a lot of what we’re seeing. There’s so much of it – stress and pressure – for whatever reasons. People like Robin Williams and some of these actors who commit suicide. Deep down inside there’s something suppressed – a root of pain and hurt,” says Besch, recalling memories of his own buried pain over bullying.
While Besch speaks to believers, primarily, he’s praying for open doors to public schools where he can share life-changing principles with young people willing to seek him on territory other than secular campuses.
“I think what I’d say to kids in public-school settings is, ‘You know, you don’t have to be afraid, find a person (in whom you can confide), maybe a school counselor or teacher, if there isn’t a parent or a pastor. Maybe there’s a friend or a minister – somebody you can go to – in a leap of faith, making yourself vulnerable.’
“I have made myself so vulnerable, telling people I was the fat kid who got picked on.
“Going through some of the things I’ve gone through, I look back now to see how God has used that to make me who I am – strong in the Lord and equipped to do spiritual warfare,” Besch says.
Information about getting the Besch’s to speak at churches, youth groups, men’s and women’s groups and conferences is on their website, www.beschministries.com.