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The Columbine Diaries: Old Wounds ... New Passions

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By Lane Palmer, Christian Post Guest Columnist
July 8, 2006|9:53 am

I suppose the phrase ''it seemed like yesterday'' can be viewed as an overused cliché, but in this case it is absolutely accurate.

I’m talking about the April 20th, 1999 tragedy at Columbine High School, where 12 students and one teacher were killed by two students who later took their lives. The reason it still seems like yesterday is because of my closeness to the situation.

I was a youth pastor in Littleton with a youth group made up primarily of Columbine students. In fact, for a time the Bernall family attended our church and Cassie attended some of our meetings. I had made an appointment to meet a student on the Columbine campus for lunch on April 20th, but that morning I woke up feeling very sick and decided to stay home. At 11:30 I got a phone call from one of my interns who was sobbing and urging me to turn on the television.

At first the images struck me as a fire at the school, but within seconds the cold hard reality of what was really going on sunk in to my conscious mind.

The unthinkable was happening. If you were old enough to remember that day, you know what I’m talking about. A quiet suburban neighborhood was transformed into a war zone, except instead of soldiers being shot, there were innocent teens going through hell on earth.

Over the next several months I met with each of my students who were there to let them pour out their anger and grief, and somehow try to answer the unanswerable question of why God would allow this to happen.

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Now seven years later the old wounds are reopened with the release of over 900 pages of documents from the killers. Inside you’ll find what you probably expected…angst, hate, vitriolic diatribes, and even a glimpse into the thinking patterns of a psychopath and a depressive.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t excited about the release of these diaries, I don’t enjoy reliving the feelings of that day. Yet as I have processed things the past few days, I was given an insight that hadn’t occurred to me before.

Perhaps sometimes when old wounds are opened, new passion is born. And that is the case with me today. I work with a ministry that is trying to reach every teen in America with the life changing message of the gospel, and we believe with all our hearts that the message of Christ is the answer to violence in the schools.

One of saddest entries in these diaries is from one of the killers who hoped to find peace in the afterlife. The tragedy of that is that the peace he sought was available to him in this life, and perhaps if he would have found it, 15 families would still have their loved ones. Our hope and prayer is that God will take the calamity and heartbreak of Columbine and use it to reach thousands, even millions of anger ridden students who may simply be looking for peace.

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Lane Palmer is the Youth Ministries Specialist for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with youth leaders and students, equipping them to be effective in sharing the gospel. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries, please visit www.dare2share.org. Find out how Dare 2 Share Ministries and Focus on the Family® are working together to capture the hearts of this generation of teenagers, visit www.capturetheirhearts.com. Send feedback to lane@dare2share.org.

 

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