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Tim Ribberink Bullied to Death

Tim Ribberink, a 20 year old man from the village of Tilligte, The Netherlands, committed suicide last week after enduring years of bullying. Evidence indicates that Tim’s sexual orientation played a part in his bullying. Henk and Martina Knol, owners of the ice cream shop that employed Tim, said, “The girls used to ask him if he was gay but he’d make a joke of it. If he was gay, he didn’t want anyone to know about it.” However, there seemed to be no recognition of the bullying by Tim’s teachers. A former teacher from Windesheim hbo college said, “He was doing well here. He fitted in and his parents thought so as well.”

Pastor Marinus van de Berg presiding at Tim’s funeral.

Tim’s parents decided to publish his suicide note to increase awareness of bullying. The note said,

“Dear Mum and Dad, All my life I have been ridiculed, abused, bullied and excluded. You guys are fantastic. I hope you’re not angry. Until we meet again.”

My question is “Why?” Why are we often not aware of the bullying? Why do we allow bullying to happen? Why are we not more accepting of people who don’t look like us, act like us, or make different life choices than us?

Jesus stood up for people like Tim. When people gathered to stone a woman caught in adultery, he said, “let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (John 8:7). Jesus is our role model. To be like him, we must—unapologetically and unabashedly—be advocates for people like Tim.

Who is Tim in your life?

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