There are news events which inevitably stick with you years after they happen and their mention has faded from top headlines and the limelight.
In my mind, the 2007 killings of students at Virginia Tech University fits into that mold. Having been in southwest Virginia many times certainly is a reason why, but so too are my countless number of experiences on college campuses where access to so many things is free, unfettered and often quite comfortable.
One person who knows this well, perhaps all too well, is Jim Pace, the co-pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship in Blacksburg, Va. In an interview in the current issue of Church Executive magazine, Pace reflects on the chaotic and traumatic days during and after the shooting.
Through circumstance Pace became a point man for media contacts in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. In reflecting also on more recent tragedies such as last year’s shootings at Fort Hood and the Haiti earthquake, he sees such cataclysmic events as a call to action for Christians.
“I also believe that when we become followers of Jesus, he taps us to join him in that redemptive work now,” Pace said. “This world isn’t just some gigantic waiting room where Christians wait until they die so the fun can start. Not at all; we are called to join with Christ and continue the work he began.
“For now it comes as no surprise that instead of loving one another, we hurt one another. Instead of our planet supporting us as it was intended, it shudders and shakes itself. Our fallenness is very real. The consequences of that fallenness are just as real.”
I won’t spoil the rest of the interview for you – it’s quick interesting read – but would like to leave you on the inevitable “Why, God?” questions that surround tragedies whether they be large-scale or personal.
“(God) does what I think he has to do with a creation that has been given freedom and has used that freedom to walk away and trash the place,” Pace said. “He speaks individually to us all, wooing us at our heart level and offering us the choice to turn back to him. He never forces our hand. Then for those of us who return to him, he allows us to become a part of his wild redemptive plan for the rest of humanity.”