Remembering Va. Tech, Holding onto Faith

Students at Virginia Tech will be remembering on Wednesday the 32 lives lost in a tragic shooting one year ago. But the Hokies aren't thrilled over the revived media attention that has come their way.

"Here come the [news] trucks again," is the feeling at the Blacksburg, Va., campus, according to the Rev. William H. King, who serves as a campus pastor at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church, according to ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) News Service.

Last April 16, the nation witnessed the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Seung-Hui Cho, a senior English major at Virginia Tech, killed 32 students and faculty in two shooting attacks before taking his own life.

After the tragedy, many students were through with the massacre and "didn't want to hear another word about it," said the Rev. Joanna Stallings, also a campus pastor at Luther Memorial.

The pastors and ministry leaders on campus had gone straight into ministering and offering services of comfort and healing. While many asked how God could let the tragic shootings happen or doubted God's presence, the campus pastors did not question God or their Christian faith.

"I would never say that God did this to Virginia Tech," said King, according to ELCA News Service.

Matt Rogers, a leader of New Life Christian Fellowship at Virginia Tech, said he didn't struggle with his faith and instead went into "automatic ministry mode" following the attacks.

"I knew God was good. My question was how to experience Him as good when life isn't. It wasn't hard being a pastor," Rogers told Religion News Service. "The only thing that was difficult was going from being a pastor in a normal setting to being surrounded by the media and having to respond with answers on the moment. It wasn't that I was doubting my faith. But how do I experience it rather than it just being in my head?"

Realizing that sometimes a person is just not going to have answers to "why" questions, Rogers decided to author the book When Answers Aren't Enough: Experiencing God as Good When Life Isn't.

"We're created for something more than just answers. We're created to experience God," he said, according to RNS.

Many have experienced healing this past year, Rogers said, but still, some are feeling they have to go through the pain of the tragedy again as the media spotlight hits campus this week.

"Is the media going to be back? Is it going to be more low-key? We just don't really know," Rogers said as he described the current campus mood as "apprehensive."

Virginia Tech students and faculty will observe a day of remembrance on Wednesday, paying tribute to those lost in the shooting through various events and memorials throughout the day. A candlelight vigil at the university memorial site is scheduled for that evening.