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3 slain high school girls called heroes of the faith

PADUCAH, Ky. (BP)–Quoting from the psalm that says the death of God’s saints is precious in his sight, Dawson McAllister said three girls killed by gunfire at a Kentucky high school are happy to be in heaven.
“Folks, the girls wouldn’t want to come back,” McAllister, a nationally known youth evangelist, said of Jessica James, 17, Kayce Steger, 15, and Nicole Hadley, 14, during a “Celebration of Life” rally Dec. 15 at Bible Baptist Heartland Worship Center, which hosted the victims’ joint funeral service on Dec. 5. Hadley was a member of the independent Baptist church.
The three girls were killed after classmate Michael Carneal, 14, sprayed gunfire at a student prayer meeting in the lobby of Heath High School in West Paducah the morning of Dec. 1.
“When these three girls died, Jesus stepped forward and welcomed them into heaven,” McAllister said, stirring hearty applause among an estimated 1,500 people in attendance. “Revelation 2:10 says to be faithful to the point of death, ‘and I will give you a crown of life.’
“While they didn’t (realize) they were laying down their life for Christ, just being there and taking a stand was enough,” McAllister said, calling the girls “great heroes of the faith.”
In his message, McAllister — whose Nashville, Tenn.,- based radio show airs on hundreds of stations in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada — also paid tribute to the girls’ parents. Along with family members, they occupied the church’s center front section.
“I’m absolutely astounded by these families,” McAllister said. “To allow the funeral to be aired on 232 stations worldwide? They did that for the cause of Christ. In heaven people from Africa, India, Asia and Europe will come to them and say, ‘Thank you, you put Christ first and yourselves second.’
“To be at this rally two weeks later is incredible,” McAllister said of the families. “They did it because of their love for their daughters and their love for you,” he told the rally.
Asking the families to stand, he called the event “one of the most moving moments of my life,” as Christian singer Al Denson, who had accompanied McAllister to the rally, broke into a refrain: “How I thank you, Jesus I thank you, I gratefully thank you.”
“This is real Christianity,” McAllister said when Denson finished singing. “This is Christianity which says I believe in God and I believe he’s at work here. You’re looking at it tonight.”
After a standing ovation for the families, McAllister added, “Satan tried to scare students from across the nation from praying. The demons lost that battle. We will stand until Jesus returns.” His final remark prompted another wave of applause.
The veteran youth evangelist then addressed the question of why the shootings happened, asking where God was at 7:43 a.m. on Dec. 1. “Maybe it was for you,” he said to the audience, as a picture of God’s work.
To those who question whether the Lord would use that kind of graphic demonstration, McAllister compared it to the strong visual aid 2,000 years ago when Christ hung on the cross.
“I am here to tell you God was in the same place when his Son died, in control, on the throne,” McAllister said. “He loves us so much he gives us free choices. This isn’t God’s fault. He didn’t do it.
“Two weeks ago Mike made a wrong choice. His life will never be the same. When we make choices, they affect others. We don’t live to ourselves and we don’t die to ourselves. Sometimes we make disastrous choices that lead to mayhem.”
Some have questioned whether the boy accused of pulling the trigger was demon-possessed or driven by Satan, McAllister recounted. While that is impossible to say, he said the youth was shaped by the pain and hurt around him.
Noting the news reports that Carneal had been the object of ridicule because of his small stature, he said, “That’s pain in a sin-sick world.”
Such catastrophes bring tears to God’s eyes, he said, referring to Christ weeping over the death of Lazarus. Likewise, he said, the Lord wept along with the families of the murder victims.
If that is true, he said, some would ask why God didn’t move Mike’s arms or tell Ben Strong (the student credited with disarming Carneal) to direct a friend to intervene before the shootings.
“God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts,” McAllister answered. “Our lifetime and what happened at Heath High, as painful as it is, is basically a flicker in a flame on the candle.
“When we get to heaven and see all the plans laid out, we will say, ‘Thank you, God, for all you allowed to happen.’ God has his reasons and when I can’t trust his head, I’ll trust his heart.”
The evangelist ended by extending an invitation to those who didn’t know Christ to walk forward and accept him as their Savior. More than 75 people, mostly teenagers, responded.
Mickey Brown, youth pastor at Heartland, said 22 of them accepted Christ. The remainder registered other decisions, such as rededicating their lives to him, pledging to take a stand for the Lord or promising to start a prayer group at their school, he said.

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  • Ken Walker