Evan Bates has a rearview mirror perspective on the future. He’s looked back numerous times during his 21 years of life…always saying goodbye to friends he’ll never see again.
Those goodbyes, coupled with the challenges of being the product of a biracial marriage and being an extra-bright homeschooled kid, have positioned him to understand lots of emotional blows and lows.
He turned to writing.
At seven, he tried writing songs. At eight and nine, he’d progressed to short stories. At 13, he wrote a story that was published four years later in Young Disciple Magazine in a four-part series. The common theme throughout his work has been the loneliness of losing friends and moving to a new beginning…joined with growth, disappointment, and forgiveness. Yet, he always found a positive spin on each of life’s challenges as his family moved eight times during his childhood to follow their professional endeavors.
“God gave me new experiences so I could learn from them and help others.”
His mother incorporated writing into his homeschool curriculum so he learned to use it as a way to express his thoughts. Three years ago, he started writing a book. The suicidal tragedy of one of his close friends compelled him to complete his first book Cicada Song, an 11-chapter young adult novel from his own experiences with suggested strengths for living in a cruel world.
“I was grieving and needed perspective to finish the book.”
Bates compares his recently completed book to a fusion of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Stephen Chbosky’s Perks of Being a Wallflower. He also has dabbles of influence from his friend and inspiration, June Strong, most commonly known for her books Project Sunlight and Song of Eve.
Here’s an excerpt from his book:
“A lot of people think that forgiveness removes the blame from someone who does wrong, that it ends the potential for justice. But forgiveness isn’t pretending evil never happened. It is refusing to let that evil dictate your happiness or capacity to love. It’s the key to a clean heart, a restart.”
“The Good Book says, ‘You have heard the law that says love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.’1 If my Jesus can water your lawn as much as mine, who am I to brew my hate and keep a grudge? God’s my judge, and as I can see, He’s done His job.”
In Cicada Song, Bates references watching his mom being discriminated against in the deep south when she was just trying to use a public restroom. Italian American and Eritrean – that’s the kite-shaped country near Ethiopia – Bates’ mom frequently had assumptions made against her, as well as disapproval of a biracial marriage.
“Racism has been around a long time,” he said. “You’ve got to understand the fear of racism and the misunderstanding of racism. The real secret to life is to adopt the culture of a new home without the negative aspects of that culture.”
A bright young man, he tackles forgiveness like a champ and even weaves some quotes from Martin Luther King into his manuscripts.
Inspired to write after praying, he listens to music while sipping either peach or blueberry herbal tea.
“That prepares me to take a theme and turn it into art.”
In addition to writing, Bates has a special God-calling to work with those who have attempted suicide. He’s considered both nursing and pastoral work. Currently, in his senior year as a theology student at Weimar Institute, he plans to work closely with those who are struggling with depression.
Bates wants to focus on those who have attempted suicide, more specifically, young people.
“I think we can gain our voice back, a millennial voice to the Adventist message to the world. Young people began the work and will finish the work.”
While taking Bible study methods, New and Old Testament, and Revelation Prophecy ministries this semester, Bates is also trying to secure $2000 to pay his portion of the printing costs to WestBow Press, a Christian self-publishing company for books with morals, inspirational themes, and family values. WestBow, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan, has already accepted Bates’ manuscript with full layout and design service.
Once published, Cicada Song will be available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, and through Christian and secular book distributors.
The advancement office at Weimar Institute is trying to help Bates secure funding for publishing Cicada Song as they appreciate his passion for writing material that positively targets young people. For information on sponsoring Bates, email [email protected]rg.