Approaching the Anniversary of Columbine Shootings
Heading back to school can be a challenging time for everyone. Whether you are a parent, teacher, student, coach or caretaker, everyone has their own set of difficulties as the school year starts. From activities and homework to making new friends, there is so much to navigate that it can be daunting. Over the last decade, it has become even more stressful to go to school with our news headlines filled with school shootings. The twentieth anniversary of the Columbine shooting will be in April 2019. It was the school shooting that rocked the nation. Two students showed up to Columbine High School on April 20th, 1999, armed with guns and pipe bombs. They murdered twelve students and one teacher before taking their own lives. The first victim was Rachel Joy Scott targeted for her unwavering faith in Jesus Christ. In 2016, we interviewed Rachel Scott’s mom, Beth Nimmo and talked with her about how she made sense of the tragedy and how we can end this senseless violence.
Nimmo reflects on how she made sense of the tragedy at Columbine and losing her daughter.
“It was a senseless act of violence, it really was, and there’s no justification for what happened that day. These boys [the shooters] were unhappy, hateful, discouraged, and even bullied, but there’s nothing that would ever justify the behavior they exhibited that day. The thing that probably helped me the most was [later] when we found Rachel’s writings, I knew there was a purpose, and that God allowed Rachel to be in that mix. Rachel knew she was going to die young, she knew she wasn’t going to live to be very old; she wrote about it, and sensed that God prepared her for that. I don’t believe that she knew how, when, or why, but she definitely considered it. Without those [journals], I honestly don’t know how I would have felt about it. I know some of the Columbine families didn’t have that sense. It was a gift for us that she had documented her life and documented her beliefs, because it gave us a platform to walk out on. A lot of Columbine families just didn’t have that so there was no place for them to put a lot of those feelings.”
Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
though lofty, he sees them from afar.Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life.You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes;
with your right hand you save me. The Lord will vindicate me;
your love, Lord, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.
Nimmo shares how she feels like parents and society can put an end to this senseless violence.
“I think the best influence we can have in our society and in our world is to be light in the darkness, and that’s just by having a real relationship with the Lord. Let me share with you something that Rachel wrote and I think it says it better than anything that I could say. Like you said, you can be killed in a church, in a school, in a mall, driving down the highway, in your home, there’s really no safe place. Rachel wrote, “Create in me the church, so that wherever I go, I will find sanctuary. ”The only sanctuary we have is in the Lord and one of the things I want to impress on kids today is without a relationship with the Lord, there is no safe place. The enemy can get to you anywhere, any way, but if you want peace, and if you want to feel the love and protection of the Lord, you have to have that relationship with Him. That’s what creates peace that passes understanding, and that’s what creates sanctuary when you’re being threatened. Rachel came to that point in her own life where she could face whatever she had to face, and she could still have sanctuary and still have peace. I think even that day, when she was crying, and she was bleeding, and she was hurt, and I’m sure scared, but I don’t think that took away her confidence in the Lord. I know it didn’t because of how she answered the boys.”
Be a light. Whether it is in the classroom, office or your neighborhood, be a light to those God has brought into your life. God has placed people all around us that need to experience His love and grace and hear about his message. He has chosen us to be a part of reaching those people. Ask God if there are areas in your life that take away from your witness for Him. Pray and ask God to help you turn from those things. It can be helpful to have a friend or small group member hold you accountable.
Reach out. Make it a point this week to reach out to someone that you don’t know. Take time to get to know them. Invite them to sit with you at lunch or grab coffee together. Ask them questions about their life in an effort to get to know them better. You can even introduce them to some of your friends. Pray and ask God to show you someone in your life that you can be a friend to. Invite them to church, your small group or do an activity together.
Be a part of what God is doing on school campuses. Pray for your youth pastor and youth ministry leaders at your child’s school or the school in your town. Ask them how you can support what they are doing. They might need food for their next outreach or a place to meet. They might need your help explaining to other parents what they do.
To read our entire interview with Beth Nimmo, click here