I just heard the tragic news about the school shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. It broke my heart to hear of so many dying in such a horrific attack.
There’s something especially sad about elementary school children being senselessly slaughtered. As a father to two elementary school-aged children, I can’t imagine the pain that the parents of these precious little souls must be going through right now.
My wife is an elementary school teacher in Jefferson County in the state of Colorado. This is the same county where the Columbine High School shootings took place in 1999. This shooting rocked my world and was the primary impetus for me resigning my post as a pastor to reach out to teenagers full-time.
A few years ago, a shooting erupted on the same campus where my children go to school. And, as someone who works with teenagers from all across the country, I have heard way too many stories from young people who’ve been affected by school violence in one way or another. Because of my wife’s job, my proximity to Columbine High School and the young people I’ve talked to, school shootings are something I’m consistently aware of.
What’s really weird for me is that yesterday, as I walked into my wife’s school to drop off her car keys, the thought entered my mind of how easy it would be for some crazed gunman just to walk in and start shooting. I wondered how safe my wife really was. I wondered how safe the kids at her school really were. School districts generally don’t have enough money to provide the level of security to prevent such tragic events from unfolding in their schools.
So how should we as Christians react to these horrific events?
We mourn. There is a time to mourn, and this is it. We mourn for these children. We mourn for their parents. We mourn for this school and the surviving children and teachers who forever will be traumatized by these terrible events.
We pray. We pray for God to act on behalf of this Connecticut school, its teachers, administrators, children and parents. We ask for him to comfort them in their grief. We pray for the elementary, middle schools and high schools in our own community. We pray for their safety and salvation.
We support our local schools. It is time for churches to stop demonizing public schools and start reaching out to them. Let’s provide adults to support teachers, to help them grade papers, read with children and be available to serve. It may not prevent school shootings, but the more adults there are in a school, the better the chance that kids can be protected or taken to a safe place in an emergency situation.
Finally, we reach out. This nation needs the gospel now more than ever. We need to reach everyone with the hope of Jesus Christ.
Who knows how much violence has been averted because a potential killer or school shooter was led to Christ and had their soul transformed by the power of God. I know that, in my own family, the extreme violence that once characterized many of my family members was replaced with the love of God when someone reached them with the gospel message.
We must get the gospel out. We must reach elementary children and their teachers. We must reach our neighbors and co-workers. We must reach friends and strangers. Because only the gospel can transform hate into love and a potential shooter into a child of God.