FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Stephanie Jones couldn’t quite agree with the old adage that time heals all wounds. Her 23-year-old daughter Kim was killed 10 years ago when a gunman walked into the sanctuary of Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Maybe for some people time heals wounds, but I think if you have a leg cut off, you still make adjustments and it’s still gone and it still has changed your life,” Jones told Baptist Press. “Yes, you go on and you make the best of it and you learn how to deal with it.
“It’s your ‘new normal,’ but for me, particularly this 10th year it’s very hard because I guess you realize it’s been 10 years and you’ve had to do without them for 10 years in your life, and that’s a very long time to miss someone that was so fun and so special and such an inspiration and just filled your whole family with life,” she said.
Kim graduated with honors from Texas Christian University in 1999 and had just started a master’s degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth when the shooting occurred. That spring she had served as a youth minister in the Netherlands.
Kristie Harrick, Kim’s sorority director, recounted how she lent a book, “Through Gates of Splendor” by Elisabeth Elliot, to Kim one night. Kim read it for hours and then, through tears, told Harrick, “I don’t know if I’m going to be a missionary or not, but I want to be the kind of person who would give my life for Christ.”
Two months before her death, Kim spoke to a group of believers in Saudi Arabia, where her parents were living at the time. She used backpacking as a metaphor for the Christian life, drawing on her experiences living out of a backpack in the Netherlands.
“Living out of a suitcase is not that fun, but you know it’s OK because someday you’re going home,” she said. “… Everyone in here, we’re basically a bunch of backpackers. We are all just travelers. We are all just on a journey, and we are heading for our home.
“I think sometimes we lose sight of that, and sometimes we start to focus so much on this world and we forget that God has said in His Bible that this world is not our home. We are strangers and aliens in this place,” Kim said.
“This isn’t it. And someday this body of mine is going to die. It’s going to pass away…. And listen to this; this is the most amazing thing: We are forced to live out the rest of eternity based on the decisions that you are making today.”
Stephanie Jones considers it a miracle that her daughter’s talk that day was recorded because it wouldn’t normally have been videotaped and special permission would have had to be obtained. Yet that video allows Kim’s legacy to live on in the form of a DVD that includes an introduction by Al Meredith, Wedgwood’s pastor.
The video even is available for viewing on YouTube through a search of “Going Home” and “Kim Jones.”
“I thought that was wonderful because more people get to see it,” Stephanie Jones said of someone posting it online. “It was her dream to travel around the world talking about Jesus.
“It wasn’t my plan, you know. God didn’t ask me. But she has the best of both worlds. She is in heaven with her best friend Jesus, and she’s still traveling the world. She’s been to over 38 countries and all over the United States,” she said, referring to the video.
“I know hundreds of people that have written us and said that they have accepted Christ through her story or renewed their lives because the Holy Spirit inspired them through her talk,” Jones said. “There are things like that happening all the time that are sweet encouragements from the Lord. He doesn’t have to let us know about those, but He’s always letting us be encouraged through how she’s still impacting others for His glory.”
Jones and her husband Stan founded a nonprofit ministry in their daughter’s memory called The Light Still Shines, online at thelightstillshines.org, and along with helping people remember Kim, the ministry benefits missionaries. Donations and proceeds from the sale of the “Going Home” DVD go to missionaries, Jones said.
And as Wedgwood marks 10 years since the shootings, friends of the Joneses are meeting them in Fort Worth to tour places that were special to Kim, including TCU and Southwestern Seminary, and to attend a remembrance ceremony at the church. One woman even came from Holland for the occasion.
“Somehow that people still remember helps to heal,” Jones told BP. “We’re really looking forward to the remembrance because we have so many friends that have just been so incredible to us, not only from Fort Worth and that church family of Wedgwood but my sweet friend that knew Kim. When Kim was a missionary in the Netherlands they worked together.
“She flew in, and it’s just really sweet and encouraging when you have so many friends that still care and still know that it’s not easy and they want to be there for you,” Jones said.
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.
For complete Baptist Press coverage of the 10th anniversary of the Wedgwood shootings, go to http://bpnews.net/BPCollectionNews.asp?ID=158.