Faith Turned a Bullied Kid into a Brave Victor

Unforgettable tale of a mom, her son, the musician who saw them through a nightmare — and God's loving power

A few years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to open for Mötley Crüe with my solo band. Before performing my song, “Breathe Out,” I spoke about how I came to write a song about bullying. I was moved by a story in the news in which a teenager took his own life because he couldn’t live through the torture he was going through at the hand of some school bullies. This isn’t an isolated story — it’s more of an epidemic.

Gina King was in the audience that night. Relating to the story in my song, she felt moved to reach out to me on Facebook. She told me the heart-wrenching story of her son, Brian, and said she couldn’t find my song online to share with him, but she did find my song, “Time to Shine.”

They listened to it, and together they cried — then talked about how one day it would be Brian’s “Time to Shine.”

“God put an angel in my path.”

I was moved by her story and offered to Skype with them. I had been bullied when I was a kid, but I always had my music to get lost in. It also wasn’t as severe as what Brian endured at the hands of a bunch of bullies.

We talked on Skype for a few hours. I met this awesome, smart, big-hearted, and handsome 14-year-old and his amazing mom. We shared stories and some laughs. God used me as a conduit to speak strength into Brian.

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Ever since, I have stayed in touch with them. Gina King sends me updates and every year I become more and more amazed by Brian. He overcame it all, became a super achiever, and maintained his big heart. If he would have let the bullying win, he would not be here today. I am so glad he is here with us today! We all hope this can help someone before it’s too late.

Here are questions I posed to each of them — and their honest and from-the-heart answers.

Gina King and her son, Brian, who together pushed past years of bullying — with God’s help.

Question: Brian, how old were you when you were first bullied?
Answer (Brian): I was about six.

Q: Gina, what was your reaction when Brian first told you about the bullying?
A (Gina): I was shocked. Then anger, pure anger, set it. How dare someone treat my child like that! How dare the school not do something to stop it! Then came confusion. Why did someone treat my child like that? Why didn’t the school do something to stop it?

Q: What were some actions you took to prevent the bullying?
A (Gina): I always told Brian to just walk away and ignore it. Brian has always had a big heart and wore it on his sleeve. I didn’t want him to become a heartless human being. I talked to the school, over and over and over. Not much changed … for years.

Related: The Piano Guys: ‘Anything Is Possible with God’

Q: Brian, did you get depressed or even suicidal from being bullied?
A (Brian): Yes, I did become suicidal, but I don’t think I had the ability to actually carry it through … I told both of my parents, the school principal, the superintendent, and the school guidance counselors, but the school administration was unable to stop it. Nobody was truly [able] to help me within the school. There were just those who tried to make me feel better afterward.

Q: Gina, did you notice a change in his personality during the bullying?
A (Gina): Brian would cry more often for sure. He was angry and frustrated. Some days he appeared more beaten down than others. But what didn’t change was his big heart. He was always willing to help another person. I’m thankful for that.

Q: Was Brian’s school proactive in trying to stop the bullying?
A (Gina): They “acted” like they were proactive. In reality, they weren’t or it would have stopped at some point through the DECADE it was happening. (Yes, it’s still a very touchy subject, even though it’s no longer happening to him.)

Related: Reaching Out in Faith to Refugees Stranded in Limbo

Q: What kind of talks did you have with Brian?
A (Gina): We talked a lot about everything. Why kids do such things. Why it’s wrong to do. How to handle the situation with dignity and not through anger. To ask God for help and protection. To pray for those kids that are bullies, that something in their world changes so they didn’t feel they had to act out like that. To “fight back” with brains and not with brawn.

Q: Brian, did you pray about the situation?
A (Brian): Yes, I did pray, about three to four times a week depending on the severity of the bullying.

Q: Gina, did you pray about the situation?
A (Gina): Every single day! Sometimes every single hour.

Q: Brian, what was the turning point for you in terms of when the bullying eased up or stopped?
A (Brian): There were two turning points for me — think of it like a NASCAR track. The first was when my mother called the father of the main bully, and the father forced him to call me and apologize. The second was when I was on the bus and a kid kept jabbing me in the stomach and calling me “Fatty.” Before he got off the bus, he tried to do it again and I decided to stand up for myself. I caught him in a headlock and landed a few punches. While violence isn’t supposed to be the answer, it showed him he could get hurt if he kept doing that. He stopped.

Related: North Carolina’s Justin Jackson ‘Plays to Glorify God’

Q: Gina, what was the first sign for you that things were getting better and Brian was going to be OK?
A (Gina): God put an angel in my path. This angel took the time to talk to Brian and help build his self esteem — to tell him he is better than the bullies, that he shouldn’t have to tolerate what was happening to him, and that it’s not OK, ever. That it was his “Time to Shine.” Thank you, Jane, for being that angel.

Then we realized that no matter how many meetings I had with the school administration, it wasn’t going to change, and that it went from name calling and a little shoving here and there to something more physical. I finally had enough. I told Brian, “It’s not OK to hit first, but I’m fine with you hitting back.” I refused for him to be a victim anymore.

“I always knew God was with my son in all of this.”

Is violence the answer? Of course not, but they had to see him as a teenaged boy and not that little kid who cried when they poked fun at him. All it took was once. Did he get suspended? Yup, for three days he was kicked out of school for fighting back. I told the administrators I was fine with it and would continue to be fine with it until it was stopped completely.

Q: Did you see God’s hand in the turnaround in Brian’s life?
A (Gina): I always knew God was with him in all of this. If He wasn’t, things would have been much worse, right? My son would have changed completely and become something he wasn’t. If God wasn’t with him, he might not be here at all. God’s hand was upon him throughout … And from this experience, Brian learned to be more of a protector of other kids going through the same thing.

Q: Brian, did you ever figure out why the bully/bullies targeted you?
A (Brian): The original bully targeted me because his father was extremely abusive to him. He needed an easy target to make himself feel like he had power over something.

Related: Power of the Youngest Saint

Q: Since the bullying stopped, what have you accomplished in school and in your life?
A (Brian): I have been accepted into the National Honor Society, joined the varsity football team, and joined the student council. I have one AP [advanced placement] class and plan on attending more. I joined a club called Legacy Now, which works to improve the community. I plan on going to medical school and becoming a forensic pathologist.

Q: Gina, do you feel your faith was tested?
A (Gina): My faith never wavered. It has grown. I learned we really do need to lean on God and our faith to get through things like this. No parent should ever have to see their child suffer in any way, shape or form. But through faith and God, you can get through it and turn it into a positive for the future.

Q: Brian, what would you tell other kids who are being bullied and who might be depressed or suicidal?
A (Brian): If you are being bullied for your physical appearance, remember that your mind is the most powerful weapon at your disposal. If you’re being bullied for not being as smart as others or are falling behind, remember that your school will have some kind of tutoring program to help you. Most bullies don’t have as strong a brain as other people — so when you are the CEO of a business or are the head of a law firm, they will most likely come groveling to you for a job.

Jane Reigns (aka Jane Train) is a professional singer, songwriter, actress, journalist and evangelist based in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She has toured and recorded with major artists, entertained U.S. troops worldwide (including at bases in Kosovo and Guantanamo Bay), and appeared in film and TV productions. In November 2016 she founded The Gathering Ministry to bring the gospel outside the walls of religious sanctuaries. This interview originally appeared on the author’s personal blog, and has been edited for length and clarity. 

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