Columbine High School shootings
When two disturbed
high school students in Littleton, Colo., hatched a devilish plan
to kill students and faculty at Columbine High School, 17-year-old
Rachel Scott, a hopeful missionary candidate, was one of 13 victims
in their sights. This April 1999 tragedy — worse even than
shootings in Paducah, Ky.; Jonesboro, Ark.; and Springfield, Ore.
— had some bright spots. Two of them were Rachel Scott’s
life and the impact of her death. This story was published in
the June 13, 1999, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
casket was adorned with flowers and messages handwritten in felt-tip
pens. The funeral for this 17-year-old girl gripped a nation and
allowed millions to share the grief that engulfed the Littleton
community following the shooting.
“Lord, today we look to You
for strength,” prayed one pastor at the outset of the service, “for
in our humanness we do not have the ability to handle this tragedy.”
An estimated 3,000 people gathered
for Rachel’s funeral at Trinity Christian Center in Littleton,
less than a mile from Columbine High School; many more watched
the television broadcast which aired in its entirety on CNN and
the Fox Network. In huddled groups, Rachel’s classmates
gathered around her casket. One by one they broke from the clutches
of their friends to pen their final messages.
that you stood up for Christ, and I’ll see you in heaven,
wrote one person.
Honey, you are
everything a mother could ask the Lord for in a daughter. I love
you so much, wrote Rachel’s mother. Then with tear-streaked
faces Rachel’s parents said goodbye to their daughter.
Barry Palser, senior associate
pastor of Orchard Road Christian Center (Assemblies of God), told the mourners
that Rachel’s death was not in vain, and that she had talked about graduating
early to become a missionary. “Like Samson, in your death you have conquered
more than in your life here on earth,” Palser said. “Rachel, you
have graduated early. My prayer is that we will live our lives as big for
Christ as you have.”
One after another people stepped
to the microphone to celebrate the girl they had known.
“She had two dreams,”
said Lori Johnson, a leader in Rachel’s youth group. “She wanted
to make an impact for God, and she wanted to live in His presence all the
time. It’s amazing to me that God has fulfilled both.”
“I was Rachel’s Missionettes
teacher,” said Glenda Childs. “It was such an honor to have her
in class. She shined for God at all times.”
Many of the speakers and those
in attendance wept. Several mentioned that Rachel’s middle name was
“Joy” — a fitting description of her personality, they said.
Bruce Porter, pastor of Celebration
Christian Fellowship, challenged the young people to “declare a cultural
revolution of compassion and mercy and love, and forsake violence.”
“The torch has fallen,”
he said. “Who will pick up the torch?”
Hundreds of young people responded
by standing with their arms upraised. After the sermon a woman performed a
mime to “Watch the Lamb,” a song by Ray Boltz. Rachel had mimed
to the song in the Columbine school talent show. Barry Palser closed in prayer.
As the mourners sang “Amazing Grace,” Rachel’s mother rose
to her feet and raised her hands toward heaven.
“The memorial service was
sad, but it was so motivating,” says Heather Lightbody who
attended the service. “Being there made me want to be more
than I was. It showed what Christianity really meant.”
— Kirk Noonan