- (Photo: AP / Sam Dean, The Roanoke Times)
- (Photo: AP / Chuck Burton)
- (Photo: AP / Chuck Burton)
Christians from all around the United States have begun preparations to aid those students and people involved in the Virginia Tech shooting massacre which claimed 33 lives yesterday.
Religious organizations, campus ministries, churches, and other Christian programs have already sent workers and chaplains to counsel with affected persons as well as emphasize the importance of prayer to bring healing to the college grounds.
"My heart is heavy with the tragic news of the deadliest school shooting incident in American history and our prayers are with the dozens of victims and their families during this horrible time, said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), in a statement. The BGEA has offered the resources of our Rapid Response Team, which sends chaplains trained in crisis counseling, to assist the Blacksburg community in the days ahead as we have done in many situations since 9/11 in New York City.
The tragedy began about 7:15 a.m. EDT at West Ambler Johnston, a coed dormitory, where two people were killed. Police were still investigating around 9:15 a.m., when a gunman wielding two handguns and carrying multiple clips of ammunition stormed Norris Hall, a classroom building a half-mile away on the other side of the 2,600-acre campus. In the end, 33 people, including the gunman, were pronounced dead.
Although authorities identified the classroom shooter as 23-year-old Seung-Hui Cho, a senior English major from South Korea, and said it was reasonable to assume that Cho was the shooter in both attacks, the link was not yet definitive.
"There's no evidence of any accomplice at either event, but we're exploring the possibility," said Col. Steve Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police, according to The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, Christian workers inside of the university are doing their best to address the situation. They have organized campus-wide prayer meetings to pray for comfort on the campus as well as give strength as people having to cope with the tragedy.
InterVarsity staff are trained to help students face lifes issues and find their hope in the promises of Jesus Christ, explained Alec Hill, president of InterVarsity, a major campus ministry, in a statement. Our staff members (on campus) ask for your prayers as they and their students deal with the impact of this tragedy.
Several of the campus ministries have agreed to meet together at 12 noon on Tuesday to pray for the crisis. Other students from around the United States have also taken suit and will be meeting together at the same time to support in a nationwide prayer time.
They encourage everyone to take time off at noon to give a short prayer to strengthen the campus.
Church denominations from around the globe have shown their willingness to help impacted people for as long as they are needed. They are now standing by and have opened their arms to any that are in need of repair.
"At this time we anticipate that there will be long-term spiritual and emotional needs on campus, as well as throughout the state and the entire country as more is learned about the full extent of this tragedy," said the Rev. Kevin A. Massey, the assistant director of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of American (ELCA) Domestic Disaster Response, in a statement.
Despite the horrible incident, Christian leaders have expressed their desire for people to unite over this. They hope that it could bring more people to Jesus, who they say is the only true healer.
Having traveled to disaster and war areas around the world, I am often asked why God would allow such acts of destruction or violence upon innocent people, added Graham, and while I can't know the whole mind of God I do know two things. First, God created us. Second, God loves us and desires that all would come to Him.
My prayer in this time of tragedy is that it will pull us together as a nation and focus our attention on those families who have suffered great loss and turn our eyes to the Prince of all peace, Jesus Christ."