Just this past week, I completed the process of proofing the early-release copy of my book, The Promise. I enlisted the help of two reader friends to look over the book and comment on their perceptions of the story line and the finished product. One of the readers had nothing negative to say except for one constructive comment. “I understand what you are trying to communicate in the book,” she said. “But I was a little surprised at the maturity of your characters and how willing they were to share their faith with their friends. Most teenagers don’t talk about God like that.”
Sadly, I had to agree with my reader friend. Finding teenagers who are passionate about their faith is hard to come by in real life, but the situation is not hopeless, friends! I was reminded of one such real-life teenager, passionate about her faith, when I read a Facebook post the other day. The challenge that was put forward in this post was to Google your first name and change your profile picture to one of a famous person with your first name. I didn’t intend to change my profile picture, but I did take the challenge and Googled my first name. The first response that came up in the search box was “Cassie Bernall.”
You may recall the story of Cassie Bernall and her final moments on this earth in service to God. She was among several students killed atColumbineHigh SchoolinLittleton,Coloradoon April 20, 1999. It was reported that when the shooter asked Cassie if she believed in God, her response was “yes.”
I was a freshman in high school when this tragedy took place, and I can remember how the news rocked our community and so many others around the country. Suddenly, school was no longer a safe haven. I was aware that my fellow students knew about my faith. I helped lead a Bible study in the high school library, and even though I didn’t shout out my testimony for all to hear, I knew I couldn’t hide my relationship with Christ. When I heard Cassie’s story, I questioned if I could respond with such faith and certainty when faced with imminent death. I marveled at the passionate witness this teenager displayed for the world to see as her story went public.
I glanced at my calendar and realized that this past Wednesday marked the twelve-year anniversary of the Columbine shootings, and I do not feel it is coincidence that I chose today to share Cassie’s story. I feel that bringing The Promise to my readers in this season is also not a coincidence, for it isn’t often that we hear of the good our youth can bring to today’s society. So often we hear of the mistakes these teenagers make: teen pregnancy, use of drugs and alcohol, gang activity, bullying, and acts of violence such as the events at Columbine. Why can’t we stop to recognize the promise that exists in the lives of our youth today?
I may be 27 years old and nearly ten years out of the high school scene, but I can’t help but be drawn in by Cassie Bernall’s story. If only I could possess the passionate faith of this teen in my day-to-day life so that I could daily say with her: “Yes, I believe.” When faced with the question of whether you believed in God, would you respond the same way… even with a gun pointed directly at you?
When you have the chance, take a listen to the Michael W. Smith song “This is your Time,” inspired by the life of Cassie Bernall. May it be a reminder of our ultimate mission here on earth: to live out our faith for others to see and to not be ashamed of the Gospel.