On the Liberty University campus is a large rock boulder that is known as the Spirit Rock, on which students frequently paint messages. This week, the rock is painted in Virginia Tech orange and maroon and bears the inscription: “Today we are ALL Hokies.” It is a sentiment that people throughout the state have embraced.
All across the campus this week, a spirit of prayer has been evident, as our students and staff have issued heartfelt pleas to heaven for those who are left behind in the aftermath of the astonishing Virginia Tech slayings.
I have seen many students standing around the Spirit Rock, holding hands in prayer this week. Their hearts have been touched by the carnage of young people their age that held similar hopes and dreams that have now been pointlessly crushed.
In the aftermath of this local tragedy, our students have felt a bond to the college students on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus, which is only about 90 miles from the Liberty campus. Several Liberty students attended a candle light vigil on the Tech campus earlier this week.
Thursday evening, we held a special prayer service at Thomas Road Baptist Church, with a host of Virginia Tech alumni attending. Our special guest at this service was Misty Bernall, whose daughter Cassie was gunned down in the Columbine High School slayings eight years ago. Her perspective on this type of situation is unique.
“On Monday, I relived that agony,” said Misty. “I know your pain. I don’t know all of it, but I understand so much of it. It is a difficult time for you, as it was a difficult time for us.”
She spoke of the long healing process that has encompassed her life over the past eight years as she dealt with the death of her daughter.
Said Misty, “Eight years is a long road. The road of grief is very long. But we have found such hope in Christ. I don’t know what we would have done without our faith in the Lord.”
Her words were comforting at a time when many hearts cried out for encouragement in the wake of the evil that snuffed out 32 lives.
This Sunday, April 22, Thomas Road Baptist Church will continue ministering to the hurting. Our church has invited the public to attend a Special Memorial and Prayer Service in Support of Virginia Tech and the Families of the Victims. Misty Bernal will speak. The special service is at 5:30 p.m.
We want to honor the victims in Monday’s brutal slayings and to pray for the families of the young people who were killed. It is our responsibility as Christians to offer our heartfelt prayers and our support.
Immediately following this special service at 6 p.m., Wintley Phipps, known as the “Soloist to the Presidents,” will conduct a memorial concert. Mr. Phipps is a world-renowned vocal artist whose powerful singing is sure to touch hearts and help to mend hurting souls. I can think of no one better to lead this service than Wintley. (The service will conclude at 7:15 p.m.)
Finally, during times like these when unexpected tragedy strikes, I tend to refer to I Peter 5:7, which tells that we worship a God who is wholly concerned about us. It reminds us that we can “cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”