When they asked me to join their group, I felt outnumbered. Then I took the matter to the Lord.

On Monday morning I went to school, where I am one of only five Church members among 1,200 students. A group of boys approached me and invited me to be a member of their group. I was outnumbered. They had body piercings and were taller and bigger than most kids. They bullied those who didn’t join them.

I’m also bigger than most kids, and I considered joining the group because I am shy. I thought that being part of a group would make up for my shyness. I asked them, “Can I think it over first?” They said yes.

I asked my parents for their opinion. They said I should pray and read the scriptures. Before I went to sleep, I read the scriptures and For the Strength of Youth. It says, “Choose friends who share your values so you can strengthen and encourage each other in living high standards” ([2001], 12). I also prayed for help: “Are they the right friends for me?”

The next morning during class, I opened my wallet-size For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. I read it again and knew what I had to answer. When they asked me, “So now will you join our group?” I said, without a doubt, “No.”

They asked me why not, and I simply said I didn’t want to get body piercings or to use my strength to hurt others. I said I wanted to be nice to everybody by following Jesus Christ. They looked at me as if to say, “You are wasting an opportunity to have popular friends.”

Today I have a group of friends who are different from that gang. My friends are good students, look clean, and behave well. Now I know that if I seek our Heavenly Father’s help, He will help me.

[illustration] Illustrated by Roger Motzkus

Paolo Martin N. Macariola is a member of the Tangub Ward, Bacolod Philippines South Stake.