(Photo: AP Images / Chris Schneider, Pool)
Even though the Colorado shooter may have killed their two daughters, devout Christians David and Marie Works said Thursday morning their faith has helped them to forgive the gunman and find peace in knowing that Stephanie and Rachel Works are in heaven.
Appearing in an exclusive interview on ABCs Good Morning America, David Works said the family was leaving New Life Church in Colorado Springs for burgers and shakes when he heard a pop and saw the gunman, Matthew Murray, making his way to the parking lot armed with an assault rifle.
I screamed at everybody to get down, that there's a shooter out there, recalled the teenage sisters father.
Upon seeing his 16-year-old daughter Rachel fall to the pavement, Works said he tried to rush to her side but was stopped short by the gunman.
"I saw him again point the gun and, uh felt my belly rip, and fell to the pavement, not having gotten to Rachel all the way, described Works in recounting the horror of their Dec. 14 encounter.
His wife, Marie, meanwhile, was trying to help the couple's 18-year-old daughter Stephanie.
"I saw lots of blood coming out of her nose, said Marie. And I thought, she's been hit in the head, that and then I started to look for a pulse and I couldn't find a pulse. And I was fairly sure that she was gone.
When asked by ABC reporter Dan Harris if they could ever forgive the gunman, Marie attributed the power of forgiveness to her faith.
"I knew she was in heaven. I knew she was dead, you know. I didn't have I wasn't sad at that point because I knew she was in a good place. And I have no reason to hate the guy," said the mother.
"I think if my girls didn't know God, and I didn't know where they were going after they died, and had that assurance, I know I probably couldn't [forgive].
David also reconciled his grief with his faith as he spoke words of conviction and trust in God.
"About 22 years ago I gave my life to God and that meant everything. I just didn't know it was this much," he said, breaking into tears.
"But that's OK, Works added with a reassured sigh. Because I gave my life to God, that meant everything.
Just two days ago, David had stood in front of 2,500 congregants at his daughters memorial service and quoted the Biblical passage from Psalms 23.
"Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me," he read Wednesday.
Throughout the service, family and friends had spoken of the girls' strong faith and passion as missionaries. Rachel and Stephanie, who were homeschooled by Marie, spent their summers and vacations on missionary trips around the world.
Rachel, who is survived by her twin sister Laurie and her 10-year-old sister Grace, was known as the bubbly one who loved keeping journals and watching "Lord of the Rings" movies.
Addressing attendants of the service, Laurie read from Philippians 4:6-7 the last entry in Rachels journal.
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything, said Laurie, reciting the verse. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. This peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Family and friends remembered Stephanie as the "wild one" who loved to dance during church services.
"When I heard the news that happened here, a picture came to me, and in my mind's eye I could see Stephanie dancing with Jesus and she was very very joyful," Connie Schertel, Stephanie's best friend said.
It was reckless abandon, commented Marie on her daughters dancing during the ABC show.
Although the Colorado church was the site of tragedy for the family, ABC confirmed that they will continue with plans, which they made prior to the shooting, to move from Denver to Colorado Springs in order to be closer to and more active at New Life.
It makes sense, said Good Morning Americas Chris Cuomo. Their faith is what's carrying them through this and they want to be close to where they strengthen it.
Senior Pastor Brady Boyd, who presided over Wednesday's funeral, said that a memorial will most likely be built outside the World Prayer Center in honor and remembrance of Stephanie and Rachel.