When All Hell Breaks Loose

They cold-heartedly slaughtered 12 teenagers and one teacher before turning their guns on themselves in the library.

Many more were injured that day. All the students were traumatized by this horrific event.

It shocked the community. It shocked the nation. It shocked the world.

It shocked me.

For one, I had met a lot of the teenagers at that school. Seeing the news footage of teenagers running out of the school, falling out of windows bloody and injured, and crying into television cameras—these weren’t teenagers in some strange city far away. They were kids in my own backyard, some of whom had been at Dare 2 Share events.

The next few months were a blur.

But God began to do something in my heart. He began to fully break it for the next generation.

I couldn’t get a few things out of my mind.

I couldn’t stop wondering how the power of the Gospel could have changed everything in the lives of the two shooters if they’d been reached.

I couldn’t stop thinking about other middle schools and high schools across the nation that had potential school shooters who needed the Gospel to transform them.

I couldn’t stop wondering what a full-time focus on mobilizing teenagers to be on-campus missionaries could do for the Kingdom of God.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the theme of our upcoming conference tour: “When all hell breaks loose…STRIKE BACK!”

It was time to strike back against the forces of darkness.

It was time to mobilize an army of Christian teenagers on every campus to reach out with the hope of Jesus to their friends and to students who were broken and bullied.

It was time to energize the Church to mobilize youth to Gospelize their schools.

So, on July 4, 1999, I resigned from the church I’d helped to plant to focus full-time on mobilizing teenagers for the Gospel.

STRIKING BACK

By God’s grace, Dare 2 Share has been blessed to train millions of teenagers across the United States and around the world to share the Gospel on their campuses and in their spheres of influence through our free curriculum, training platforms, Gospel-sharing app, and mobilization events.

We won’t stop until every teen, everywhere—all 1 billion of them—hears the Gospel from a friend.

Every summer we “strike back” at a summer event called Lead THE Cause. We gather hundreds of student leaders and youth leaders from across the United States and several key youth leaders from around the world in Denver for next-level prayer, leadership, and evangelism training.

On the first full day of training at Lead THE Cause, I tell the story of the Columbine High School massacre. We show 25-year-old news footage from that day. We show pictures of the victims. No longer is it an old story teens heard about from their parents or online. It becomes real to these students.

Then we get everyone on buses and go down to Columbine High School. We break up into large groups and have four different prayer stations. One group walks around the school, praying for revival at Columbine High School and interceding for their own schools. Another group spends time at Clement Park, praising God for his faithfulness in the midst of the mess. Another group goes into the school and writes a letter of confession to God, admitting how they’ve failed to reach out to the hurting and hopeless on their campuses back home.

Students spend 20 minutes at each station, until each group has experienced three of the four stations individually. Finally, we gather back together to take an eight-minute walk from the school to the Columbine High School memorial.

Before we head out, I stand on a bench with a 6-foot-tall wooden cross. It was one of the “Columbine crosses” that were erected in honor of each victim after the school shooting. The man who built them eventually took them down and delivered one to Dare 2 Share because he’d read in The Denver Post about how the Columbine High School shooting had impacted me so deeply.

I tell the story of the Columbine cross and, how ultimately, it pointed to not just the victims but also to Jesus Christ, who died in our place and for our sins 2,000 years ago. I also challenge them to pick up their cross, die to themselves, and follow Jesus back into their schools when they get back home. I challenge them to fully yield themselves to God and strike back against the forces of darkness at their schools through prayer, love for others, and the ultimate act of love: evangelism.

I then recruit four teenagers to carry the cross and lead the way to the memorial. It’s deeply moving to see almost 500 teenagers and their leaders walk in silence toward this powerful site.

Once there, the four teenagers carrying the cross bring it to the top of the hill that oversees Columbine High School on one side and the Rocky Mountain range on the other. The hundreds of other teenagers file into the Columbine memorial to read the stories of the victims, taken from the journals of these students and interviews from their parents and others.

Once teenagers have wandered the giant circular memorial and read the quotes, many of which are God-centric, they make their way up the walkway to the top of the hill where the Columbine cross has been set. All around the base of the cross are posterboards and Sharpies that teenagers use to write down their commitment to strike back against the forces of darkness at their schools.

By the time we’ve filed back onto the buses, these teenagers have been deeply impacted. And it’s only day one of the event.