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Columbine family shares pain, triumph with teens at Centennial Olympic Park

ATLANTA (BP)–Hefting a plain wooden cross almost twice his size, 14-year-old Mike Scott stepped in double time to keep up with the other 12 positioned across the front of the stage in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.
Silence hung in the air as thousands of teens slipped to their knees — some lying prostrate on the ground — to pray for their souls, the souls of their leaders and their country.
Scott is the brother of 17-year-old Rachel Joy Scott, one of the 13 students slain April 20 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. He stood with the other 12 persons holding crosses bearing each of the students’ names as they were presented to the crowd gathered at the park for a contemporary Christian music concert, part of Crossover Metro Atlanta, coordinated by the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board. Scott’s father, Darrell, and his16-year-old brother, Craig, also were on the program.
The youth concert drew an estimated crowd of 7,000-14,000 who spread out over the lawn on blankets, with many sporting colored beads and “Jesus Loves Me” bracelets. But there was a marked silence as the crosses were presented and the mostly teenaged crowd paid close attention to Jerry Drace, president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, from Humboldt, Tenn.
“Your generation will not forget Columbine,” Drace predicted, calling those who died the only teenaged Christian martyrs in America. “What happened was not only a tragedy, but also a triumph. Children never die in vain.”
It was the attitude, “I will not deny my Jesus,” that made the difference, Drace said before introducing Darrell and Craig Scott.
In a sometimes-faltering voice, 16-year-old Craig spoke of how his faith in God has deepened in the nearly two months since the death of his sister. He also said he sometimes wishes he could “go back and put aside all of the petty things and tell her how much I love her.”
“It is so different, so unbelievable,” said Craig, who quickly turned aside to tell his younger brother, Mike, still holding the cross of their sister, “I love you.”
Dressed casually in a long-sleeved shirt and blue jeans, Craig said he would like to see all students accept each other. He said he now realizes how precious life is and how much he admired his sister for her “‘realness,’ honesty and sincerity.”
“It’s just not cool to make fun of other kids in school that look or dress differently,” Craig said.
In a separate interview, Craig, who will return to Columbine High in the fall as a junior, said his first visit after the shooting was more difficult than he expected.
“I know there won’t be any guns in the library,” he shuddered, “but it’s going to be tough to keep going past the spot where Rachel was.” Planning at one time to be a psychiatrist, Craig said he began to think about doing missions work a year ago.
“I want to help other people and I decided God could use somebody with these skills,” he said.
Darrell Scott challenged the crowd “to let God use your unique gifts.” He praised his daughter Rachel’s efforts to influence her peers and to live a devoted Christian life in spite of pressure and criticism.
Scott said his daughter’s obedience to the Lord might be the beginning of change in America.
“We are going to see a revolution take place,” Darrell Scott said. “We are going to see a reversal this summer … and see God invade our schools this fall.”
Alluding to his testimony May 27 before the United States House of Representatives, Scott said he is not looking to blame the gun industry and other groups for his daughter’s death, but instead believes the last line of a poem he wrote, which ends: “And yet you fail to understand; That God is what we need.”
In his testimony before the committee and in interviews and speeches since, Scott has vocally supported the reintroduction of legalized school prayer.
Scott said he has lost 15 pounds in the weeks since Rachel’s death, but credits God with taking care of his family and providing peace and grace.
“I will never again take my children for granted,” Scott said. “Communicate with [your children]. Love them and spend time with them. You never know when you are going to lose a loved one. ‘Love one another’ — that’s what the Lord said. Love — it may be the last time.”
If he could see Rachel again, Scott said he would hug her neck and cry for about three days.
“I believe the Lord is allowing her to see the effects of her life,” Scott concluded.
After listening to the Scotts and to the bands, 15-year-old Kady Steele, from Roswell, Ga., said she was encouraged by Darrell Scott’s talk and is praying that “God would show me the way to be cool with my parents and to celebrate God.”
Steele, who attends Roswell (Ga.) United Methodist Church, went to the concert with a group of friends.“ This is a great night. One of my really good friends got saved.”
Dozens of decisions for Christ were reported. Frontliners, a group of students who volunteer to assist at similar events, prayed and counseled with concert-goers who responded to a call from the band, Third Day, to walk to the front stage area to pray about a relationship with God.
Brandon Camp, a 17-year-old student from East Paulding High School in Atlanta and a member of New Canaan Baptist Church in Dallas, Ga., said he was “praising God to see people get saved.”
“I was amazed to see the band talk about Jesus the way they did. It brought tears to my eyes,” said Camp, who also expressed surprise that the Scott family traveled from Colorado to talk about Jesus.
“They came all the way out here from Colorado because they want to see people get saved,” Camp said. “How awesome.”
The band Small Town Poets opened the concert, followed by Third Day.

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  • Joni Hannigan