Friday morning (September 17, 1999) I was reading the
paper and noticed Darrell Scott (father of Rachel Scott, a student who
was killed at Columbine High School) was coming to speak Sunday afternoon
at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville.
I really wanted to go hear what Mr. Scott had to say but was a little
apprehensive about announcing anything to my youth group about the event
since it was going to be held at a Baptist church. I had a feeling someone
would get offended if I promoted it. So, instead of any announcement
in the main worship assembly, at the end of my Sunday school class I
made mention of the event, told my high school kids I'd be going and
invited anyone to ride with me who wanted to go.
I expected to take two or three kids in my truck. Instead I ended up
having to fire up the White House Church of Christ van as 11 of us made
the short trek to Two Rivers.
I wish I could have recorded the looks on the faces of everyone we passed
in the parking lot at Two Rivers as our van, with all its Church of
Christ lettering, motored to a resting place. Shock. Disbelief. Happiness.
I'd be a rich man if I had a dime for every person I saw mouthing the
words, "Church of Christ???" as we passed.
I guess we broke traditional protocol, but we had a face-to-face meeting
with God we would never have had if we hadn't.
The service was unbelievable. Just five short months after the April
20 tragedy, Mr. Scott shared the "untold" stories from Columbine, the
stories the liberal media may never tell, the stories he has dedicated
every waking moment of the rest of his life to sharing. He talked at
length about the 12 students, including his daughter Rachel, who left
this world on April 20.
Of the 12 students who died, eight professed to be Christians.
As Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris (the two gunmen) came down the hill
behind the school to begin their assault, their first target was Mark
Taylor. At the very moment bullets pierced Mark's body, he was witnessing
to two of his friends about his relationship with Jesus Christ.
They next turned their guns on Rachel. Three weeks earlier Rachel had
witnessed to Dylan and Eric and warned them about the violent video
games to which they seemed to be addicted. Their first shot hit Rachel
in the leg. A second plowed through her backpack into her midsection,
knocking her to the ground. One of the gunmen walked over to where Rachel
lay face down, still alive. He pulled her up by the hair of her head
and asked, "Do you still believe in God?"
"You know that I do," Rachel managed to reply.
Immediately after her reply a bullet entered her temple.
Mr. Scott shared the story of John Tomlin, another victim. John had
been on mission trips to Mexico and was hungry to do more. During each
school day he decided to do something small in hopes it might cause
someone to think about spiritual things. He left his Bible open in the
dash of his truck.
At 4 a.m. one morning after the tragedy, Mr. Scott looked around as
he was beginning an interview with NBC's Maria Shriver and noticed a
circle of people around John's truck, talking about the Bible in the
Mr. Scott spoke of his son, Craig, who escaped death after looking down
the barrel of a gun. He escaped because his friend crouched next to
him in the library, Isaiah Shoels, was black and a more desirable target
for the two gunmen who hurled numerous racial slurs and putdowns in
his direction before killing him execution-style.
Cassie Bernall's story has received more national attention. She too
answered the gunmen's question of "Do you believe in God?" in the affirmative,
taking a bullet after her response. A national "She Said Yes" campaign
has resulted from the statements she and Rachel made, looking down the
barrel of a gun.
Rachel's funeral was broadcast in its entirety on CNN. Millions of viewers
tuned in, making it the highest-rated broadcast in network history.
With millions of eyes tuned to the broadcast, Bruce Porter brought the
message, asking "Who will take the torch?" referring to the torch Rachel,
Cassie, John, Mark and others had dropped.
At that very moment a young man in Texas had a gun to his head, ready
to take his own life. As he listened to Porter's plea and thoughts that
followed, he lowered the gun from his head, began to cry and prayed
Not long ago he ran 1,000 miles from Little Rock, Arkansas to Washington,
D.C. with a torch in his hand.
Needless to say, by the end of the service I had been on an emotional
roller coaster. My shirt had a hefty salt deposit in it from the tears
I had shed, but I left the service encouraged, excited and ready to
share the "untold" stories with anyone I could.
We all climbed back in our van and headed back to White House. We were
going to be just in time for Sunday night services. I kept thinking
on the way back how much I would have loved to share with the congregation
that night just a tiny bit of what we had experienced at Two Rivers
that afternoon. I was a bit discouraged because I didn't know how long
it would be before I was in the pulpit again and had a chance to share.
As I walked in the door, two minutes before services were to begin,
one of our elders pulled me aside and asked, "Has anyone said anything
to you about speaking tonight?"
"No," I said.
"Well Keith (our preacher) has a bad toothache. He's not going to be
able to speak. I guess we'll just have a song service...."
"Please let me speak," I butted in. "Something happened to me this afternoon
I've got to share."
"Okay, you're on," he said.
During the opening moments of the service I prayed fervently that God
would use my words to help someone realize their need for Jesus.
As I began to share some of the stories previously mentioned in this
email, I felt a peace and strength I have never felt before. It was
not me talking up there. Even though I had zero preparation for this
"sermon" my words seemed to flow like never before. Everything was coming
together. In sports terms, I was "in the zone."
I pleaded with the young people who had never committed their lives
to Jesus to do so. I told them they didn't have to know everything at
first. That's what being born again is all about. Starting new. I encouraged
those who had given their lives to Jesus before and didn't have him
at the center of their lives to make it right.
As I stepped down from the pulpit with the words of "Just As I Am" resonating
from the walls, I knew something special was about to happen.
A teenager came forward, then an 8-year old boy, then a mother, another
teenager, and another, and on and on...
Three came to commit their lives to Jesus for the first time and be
baptized. Several others came to recommit their lives to Jesus. They
came largely because of the stories associated with 12 young people
from a tiny town in Colorado.
It only occurred to me about an hour later as I sat in Subway eating
a sandwich there was something special about the number of people who
had responded at church that night.
There were 12.
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his
friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call
you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business.
Instead I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from
my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose
you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then
the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command
Love each other." - John 15:13-17