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Conversation with Barry Palser

Rachel Scott: Eternal impact of a young life

Barry Palser, senior associate pastor of Orchard Road Christian Center (Assemblies of God) in Greenwood Village, Colorado, recently visited with Evangel staff writer Kirk Noonan about the spiritual impact of the school shootings in Littleton in April. Palser was one of three pastors who officiated at Rachel Scott's funeral, broadcast worldwide by CNN and the Fox network.

EVANGEL: Tell us about the youth group in your church-the one Rachel Scott was part of.

PALSER: Our youth group is passionate — the kids are really into evangelism and discipleship. We go after unsaved kids; and when they're saved, we get them into discipleship groups called Breakaways. One of our youth pastors, Lori Johnson, was raised in this church and is totally sold out for God. She's a graduate of Columbine High School.

Now the kids who were lukewarm in their spiritual experience are saying, "You know what? I'm making my mind up right now I'm going to live for Christ. I'll die for Christ."

They are the heroes in all that is happening — these young people and their youth pastors.

EVANGEL: So, you're seeing people commit or recommit their lives to Christ.

PALSER: Clement Park has become a memorial. There are cards, signs and flowers-thousands of them. We send our kids there every day to witness and win people for Jesus Christ. Their feeling is that if Rachel would give her life and shed her blood for Jesus Christ, who cares what others may say.

The presence and anointing of God were in Rachel's funeral. Now we're hearing reports of people around the country whose eyes were glued to the television, weeping openly. A church in Delaware called and said that night they had a memorial service for our children. Their church of 750 was packed; 150 people came forward to receive Christ.

EVANGEL: You've been on the scene from the beginning. Put these events in some perspective for our readers.

PALSER: History shows that when Christians give their lives for Jesus, there is a harvest of souls because it shakes the Christians out of their lukewarmness. When you're serious with God, sacrifice is not an issue.

We see these deaths as martyrdom. Eyewitnesses said Rachel received four gunshot wounds. Before the fatal shot, the gunman asked if she believed in God. Rachel answered yes and the gunman said, "Then go be with Him."

We believe we have a window of opportunity and we should do anything we can to build up the body of Christ. We have sown seeds of godlessness in our children and in our nation; now we are reaping it. Pastor Bruce Porter said government took prayer out of school, but the kids put it back in school on Tuesday, April 20.

A news reporter interviewed a student who said, "When the bullets started flying, I hit the floor and started praying and speaking in tongues."

Another student said the gunmen asked her if she believed in God and she said, "Yes, I do. That's what my parents taught me" — she was quoted in the Rocky Mountain News — and they shot her six times but she lived.

These kids are so bold for Christ.

EVANGEL: Is this a wake-up call for Christians?

PALSER: I think it certainly is. If a tragedy of this magnitude cannot awaken us, we must be in bad shape. I have read secular articles that have said that our nation could very well experience a spiritual awakening. If media outside the church is saying this, then how much more should Christians proclaim it. It is time for churches and congregations to focus on the harvest. Now people are even more open to receive the gospel. They are confused, scared and looking for answers. The church of Jesus Christ has the answer.


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