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Gunmen’s ‘Do you believe in God?’ posed to several Columb

LITTLETON, Colo. (BP)–Slain high school student Cassie Bernall’s stand for her faith earned her acclaim as a Christian martyr after the April 20 attack at Columbine High. But reports are emerging that she wasn’t alone.
At least two other classmates were also asked, “Do you believe in God?” before being shot. Rachel Scott, 17, died at the school, while Valeen Schnurr, 18, is at home recovering from her wounds.
The trio was attacked in a murderous rampage by two students who took their own lives after killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 23 others.
Rachel Scott’s mother, Beth Nimmo, learned that her daughter was one of the first students murdered when Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, unleashed a barrage of bullets and bombs at the suburban Denver school.
In addition to killing Scott, they severely wounded her friend, Richard Castaldo. He remains paralyzed from the neck down, Nimmo said.
The two had been eating lunch in a food court outside the cafeteria when the gunmen approached. Several people told Nimmo the assailants wounded her daughter in the leg, then pursued her and shot her twice more.
As Scott lay helpless, one of the attackers asked her if she believed in God. When she responded affirmatively, he replied, “Then go be with him,” and fired a bullet into her temple, Nimmo said.
“To me, it would be in character for her to have courage and boldness,” she said of her daughter’s stand. “That doesn’t surprise me. She had a lot of confidence and a sense of knowing who she was. She was very emphatic as far as living her life for the Lord.”
The victim’s family is coping with additional emotional strain. Rachel’s 16-year-old brother, Craig, was seated between Isaiah Shoels, 18, and Matthew Kechter, 16, when both were gunned down in the school library.
Craig laid there and pretended to be dead for 10 to 15 minutes while the attackers stormed the room, Nimmo recounted. Her son told her that after they left, “I felt like God told me, ‘Get up and get out of here and take anybody you can with you.'”
Craig helped one girl with a serious shoulder wound outside and took her to a first-aid station. He also assisted others while looking for Rachel..
Though painful to lose the third of her five children, Nimmo said they are comforted by the fact her actions are helping spread the gospel.
“That was Rachel’s mission. It’s the one thing that gives us comfort, that her mission is being fulfilled through her death.”
Rachel Scott had attended Orchard Road Christian Center in a neighboring suburb for 18 months. She was a member of the leadership team for a teenage cell group led by her youth pastor, Lori Johnson.
Valeen Schnurr, the young woman who passed the test of faith, and lived, returned home just one week after the shooting. She was among the most critically wounded, suffering nine bullet and shrapnel wounds, the Denver Rocky Mountain News recently reported.
Her rapid recovery surprised everyone, the News said. Her mother, Sharri Schnurr, told the newspaper, “When the doctor tells you, ‘divine intervention,’ what else can you say?'”
The bullets and shrapnel missed Valeen’s vital organs, the News reported, but another wound in her arm will likely leave her with permanent nerve damage. The Schnurr family is active in Littleton’s St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church.
According to the News’ account:
Valeen was studying in the library with a good friend, Lauren Townsend, one of the 12 student victims. After a teacher ran in and yelled to take cover, the pair huddled together, trying to hide.
She heard other students shot, some pleading for their lives, when screams from her end of the room drew the gunmen’s attention. They came in that direction, guns blazing. When the bullets and shrapnel hit her, she slumped and clutched her abdomen.
After she said, “Oh, my God, oh my God!” one of the gunmen taunted, “God! Do you really believe in God?”
Schnurr had seen what happened to Cassie Bernall after she was asked that question. Her mother said Valeen was afraid to say “yes,” but also feared saying “no” because she thought she was dying.
“Yes, I believe in God,” she finally responded.
“Why?” he asked.
“I do believe in God and my Mom and Dad have taught me about God,” she said.
Valeen’s memory is fuzzy about the rest of the incident, but she remembers crawling away and under a table, which she thinks may have saved her life.
“I couldn’t be more proud of her,” her father, Mark Schurr, told the newspaper. “I just hope that through this, she sees how special she really is. There’s got to be a reason that all of these guys survived.”
In a previous report, Baptist Press detailed Bernall’s courageous statement of faith before being slain in the school library by Harris and Klebold. She was a member of West Bowles Community Church in Littleton, where she had been active in the youth group since accepting Christ two years ago.
The courage demonstrated by these three martrys and others is resulting in a wave of people coming to Christ, according to pastors and others in the area. Dozens of salvations have been reported at each of a number of youth rallies and special services held to memorialize the slain.
Rachel Scott’s funeral also brought souls into God’s kingdom. Held at Trinity Christian Center, it was televised worldwide by Cable News Network. More than 100 people phoned the church during the telecast, wanting to receive Christ as Savior or rededicate their lives to him, Nimmo said.
Billy Epperhart, pastor of Trinity Christian — where the family attended for a number of years — said two weeks after the tragedy strangers were coming into the church, seeking spiritual counsel or telling his staff, “I need God.”
“This has hit people between the eyes,” Epperhart said. “I believe we’re on the edge of spiritual awakening.”

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  • Ken Walker