Cassie Bernall - Columbine High School Students Accepts Christ, Says, "Yes,"--and Sacrifices for Him
Is Your Jesus Worth Dying For? from The Story Of Cassie Bernall
As Cassie entered the ninth grade, her mom Misty just “had that gut feeling that something was wrong. I couldn’t pinpoint it, but I just knew something was wrong. I didn’t feel like either I nor my husband had any connection with her.”
Desperate for answers, Misty began to search Cassie’s room regularly, and on one occasion was shocked to discover evidence that her daughter had developed an interest in witchcraft, drugs and alcohol. Facing the trauma of how to deal with their troubled teen, Cassie’s parents decided that the only way to stop their daughter from making more bad decisions was to make a few good choices for her.
So, they began making changes. For starters, they transferred Cassie to a new school–Columbine High School, in suburban Littleton, Colorado. They also kept closer tabs on her friends, her attitudes, and her study habits. In general, they put their foot down, and said, “Cassie, it stops here. You must now choose to take responsibility for your life.”
Cassie began to respond – positively…new friends, new attitudes. One of the new friends was Dave McPherson, youth pastor at West Bowles Community Church. McPherson admitted to the Denver Post that, when he first saw Cassie, he thought to himself, “There’s no hope for that girl. Not our kind of hope.” The joyless look on her face, the monosyllabic speech which came from her lips — all of it suggested that perhaps Cassie was just “too far gone.”
One weekend, though, McPherson encouraged Cassie to accompany the church youth on retreat, and, with her parents’ enthusiastic permission, she agreed. That weekend which changed Cassie’s life. Said Brad, her father, “When she left, she was this gloomy, head-down, say-nothing youth. When she came back, her eyes were open and bright and she was bouncy and just excited about what had happened to her and was just so excited to tell us. It was like she was in a dark room, and somebody turned the light on, and she saw the beauty that was surrounding her.” Said Misty, “She looked at me in the eye and she said, “Mom, I’ve changed. I’ve totally changed. I know you’re not going to believe it, but I’ll prove it to you.'”
The “light” that had been turned on in 17-year-old Cassie’s life was the light of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom she had trusted as her personal Lord and Savior at that church retreat. Jesus changed Cassie-from the inside out. A deep-down, 100-percent kind of transformation, like Paul spoke of in Romans 12:2 when he exhorted us, “be transformed by the renewing of your minds!” Gone was the preoccupation with the occult; instead, Cassie began to spend her spare time, along with her new Christian friends, ministering at Denver’s inner-city Victoria Outreach Church, serving dinner to prostitutes and drug addicts as part of that church’s mission ministry. Cassie even planned to cut off her cornsilk-colored hair that hung halfway down her back, so that it could be given to “someone who makes wigs for kids who are going through chemotherepy,” according to her aunt, Kayleen.
One night, Cassie spoke of her newfound hope for the future with her mom. She said, “Mom, it would be OK if I died. I’d be in a better place, and you know where I’d be.” The same girl who, just a couple years before, had been spinning on the edge, in danger of falling into hopelessness. Jesus change her-she was living life sacrificially in Jesus’ name, and she was ready to die as a child of the Lord Jesus.
On Sunday night, April 18, Cassie stood up and gave her testimony to her youth group at church. She told them, “You really can’t live without Christ. It’s, like, impossible to really have a really true life without Him.” Cassie was ready. With her life–and with death, if necessary.
Two days after that, Cassie was sitting in the library of Columbine High School when Eric Harris and Dylan Kelbold burst in with homemade pipe-bombs and guns. They knew who she was; she’d made no secret of her newfound faith.
The Bible stacked on top of her textbooks, along with the WWJD (“What Would Jesus Do?”) bracelet around her wrist, clearly marked Cassie as one of the “Christians” of Columbine High.
“Do you believe in God?” was the question which was posed to her by that young member of the self-proclaimed “Trenchcoat Mofia.” Her friend, Keven Koeniger, later said that Cassie paused for a long moment. He said, “I think she knew she was going to die.”
Finally, the response came: “Yes, I believe in God.” The trigger was pulled.
You think the question, “Are you ready to die for Jesus?” isn’t an urgent one? Just ask Cassie Bernall. Ask her parents. Misty and Brad said, “We looked at each other and we said, ‘Would I have done that? I would have begged for my life!’ She didn’t.
Cassie Bernall’s brother Chris found this poem on her desk. It was the last poem she wrote before she died.
“Now I have given up on everything else.
I have found it to be the only way
To really know Christ
And to experience the Mighty power
That brought Him back to life again
And to find out what it means
to suffer and die with Him.
So, whatever it takes
I will be one who lives
In the fresh newness of life
Of those who are alive from the dead”
Is your Jesus worth dying for?
(Note: The “poem” above is actually a quotation from the Living Bible Phil. 3:10-11. The author of this article was mistaken in thinking that Cassie had been the author. However, it is fairly certain that Cassie looked to these verses soon before her death. Also, there are differing accounts from the shooting of who was asked if they believed in God. )
What an incredible story! What do you think of this?
Search this site for a preaching topic or sermon illustration or click on the categories below!
Dr. James Nored is a preacher, evangelist, writer, and missional leader. He currently preaches and helps lead the church into mission at the Fairfax Church of Christ in Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.