FRESNO, Calif. (BP)–The first I heard of the shootings at Granite Hills High School in El Cajon was a phone call I received while putting the finishing touches on the current issue of the California Southern Baptist. It was the day before our printing deadline.
News of the horrible school violence in Santee had broken as I was attending a series of prayer meetings in several Northern California locations. Although the Santana tragedy remained fresh in everyone’s memory, the healing from that terrible event had already begun. Medical personnel tended to the gunshot wounds. Others were left to deal with the emotional and spiritual carnage, among them Pastor Phil Herrington.
Now, just two-and-a-half weeks after the deadly shooting at Santana High School, came word about an eerily similar event in nearby El Cajon.
“There’s been another school shooting in San Diego,” the caller told me. As I heard these words, an unpleasant chill came over me. Sadly, it was not disbelief, just the all-too-familiar sadness one feels when innocents — and innocence — die.
No, not again, I thought. Not more pain. Not more fear, uncertainty and needless grief. Not again.
That my first reaction was not disbelief troubles me. Instances of school violence have escalated in both number and intensity in recent years. It may be we are becoming conditioned to expect such horrific events because of their frequency. Conditioned, perhaps; but I hope we never become so accustomed to the horror that we no longer share the pain or fail to reach out in ministry to those scarred by hatred and violence — even to those who commit such wrongs.
Neither should we forget what ultimately causes these events. Darrell Scott, the father of two victims at Columbine High School, nailed it in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee nearly two years ago. Scott said the Columbine tragedy “was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies!” It lies, he said, in refusing to honor God and in doing so, opening the doors to hatred and violence.
Echoing that sentiment in recent days, some in the San Diego Christian community describe the shootings there as a sign of ongoing spiritual warfare within the public school system. The problem is “all about spiritual warfare,” one parent of a teenager who attends Santana told a Baptist Press reporter. “We have taken every aspect of God out of our public education system and I believe that we are seeing the results. I’m not saying that God has to be taught in every class, but it’s wrong to totally ignore the impact of Christianity on our culture,” Mark Jackson said.
Yet one cannot help noticing that with few exceptions, the media, like the public schools, do just that. As shapers of culture, the media share both the responsibility for ignoring the legitimate role of genuine faith in society as well as the blame for what happens as a result. Ironically, that is a poignant validation of the scripture that declares we reap what we sow.
Nevertheless, just as Columbine was a spiritual event, so too were Santana and Granite Hills. These tragedies won’t be solved through legislation. Pointing fingers cannot prevent hurting people from hurting others but leading them to Christ can.
In April Christians commemorate the atoning death and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. We celebrate the Easter experience for what it truly is — the fulfillment of God’s redemptive purpose to reconcile sinful humankind to Himself. The recent events in suburban San Diego should remind Baptists and all believers of the urgency of declaring God’s redemptive love and boldly proclaiming Christ the risen Savior and Lord of all.
Mark Wyatt’s column appears in the April 2001 issue of The California Southern Baptist newspaper and is used here by permission. (c) Dr. Mark A. Wyatt — 03-24-01 Used by permission