Seventeen-year-old Rachel Joy Scott was the first murder victim of the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999. In all, 12 students and one teacher were murdered, 21 students injured and three others hurt trying to escape. The perpetrators took their own lives following the carnage.
The event took place nearly 14 years ago. However, in our church last Tuesday evening, it all became up close and personal again as Rachel’s aunt, Debbie Phillips, cofounder of Life Choices, shared both the terrible realities and triumphant results of the death of her niece Rachel.
First, the terrible realities. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were filled with vengeance, bitterness, anger and rejection as they entered the school on Hitler’s birthday. They came with guns and explosives planning to kill as many people as they could.
One of the grudges they were bearing was against Christians, and their treatment of Rachel made that very clear. They shot her twice in the legs and once in the upper body. As she tried to crawl away they roughly jerked her up by the hair, and asked, “Do you still believe in God?” Rachel, unwavering in her faith replied, “You know I do.” Enraged with her answer they shouted, “Then go be with Him” and shot her fatally in the head.
What good could possibly come of such a terrible event? I think one of Rachel’s quotes answers that question for us. This remarkable young lady once said, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”
Debbie related that thousands of people, through the retelling of Rachel’s story, have learned forgiveness, found new hope and life in Jesus Christ as Rachel had. Another ministry called Rachel’s Challenge reports that 18,814,241 lives have been touched and changed through events that they have conducted.
Apart from the obvious, that Rachel found great comfort and courage in her relationship with Christ, there are other biblical realities to consider. There is Romans 8:28 that says, “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God …”
Please recognize that it doesn’t say that everything is good. There was nothing good about the Columbine massacre. Yet good can come out of it … and has.
Another biblical reality is found in Revelation 14:13. The passage states, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord … they will rest from their labour and their deeds will follow them.”
Unquestionably, this is true of Rachel’s life and death. Will it be true of ours?
Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.