26 April, 1999
By Patrick Goodenough CNS Jerusalem Bureau Chief
(CNS) – More than 70,000 U.S. teens attending a weekend gathering at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan prayed for the pupils of Columbine High School, and in particular remembered the girl whose confession of faith in the face of death has inspired young Christians in Denver and across America.
Cassie Bernall, the 17-year-old who was shot after telling one of two teen-age gunmen she believed in God, is due to be buried Monday.
According to the Denver Post one of the perpetrators of last Tuesday’s armed assault had taunted Bernall: “Do you believe in God?” When she replied that she did, “he pulled the trigger,” said an eyewitness.
The paper said her faith “made her a martyr” and a hero in the eyes of her young friends at the church youth group she attended. Forty members of the youth group were at Columbine last Tuesday. All but Bernall survived.
Religion Today said Bernall was “known for carrying her Bible to school every day and wearing a ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ bracelet.”
CNN talkshow host Larry King spoke shortly after the shooting to a friend of Bernall’s, Mickie Cain.
According to reports, gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold also targeted athletes and minority students, while other victims appeared to have been chosen randomly.
Another pupil known to be a committed Christian, Rachael Scott, 17, was also shot dead in the library.
Her Assemblies of God pastor, Wallace Hickey, said Scott led a weekly prayer and Bible study group of fellow teens for the past year and a half, the denomination’s news service reported.
Scott was described as “a remarkable, committed Christian girl who had a passion for God and for people. She was fun-loving and gifted in drama and public speaking.”
The Texas-based Youth Mania ministry hosted a weekend “Acquire the Fire” rally in Pontiac, Michigan at the weekend. Although it was planned before last Tuesday’s Colorado school massacre, the organizers said in a statement, the event took on added poignancy as 73,000 participants declared their “cure for the moral virus that has spawned such violence – faith in Christ.”
More than 400 attendees from Colorado stood to their feet while those surrounding them prayed for them and their state.
The teens also signed messages which will be incorporated into a huge card to be send to the school. A collection was taken to buy a Bible for every pupil at Columbine.
Teen Mania president Ron Luce told the gathering the school shootings were “a wake-up call for our country” and urged the youths to “start a revolution of righteousness, love and forgiveness.”
“Every school has kids who are loners, who are outcasts,” he said. “This weekend is about generational change. I encourage you to express your faith by reaching out to people who are lonely or different. If you really want to change the world, love those kids.”
Earlier, Luce told a press conference that while “the predominant perception is that today’s teens are a generation that won’t take responsibility,” those attending the rally were “raising the standard for themselves and their peers. Our hope is that these young people will go back to their homes, schools and communities as ambassadors to take the message of God’s love.”