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?
CLICK HERE FOR AN INCREDIBLE STORY OF A YOUNG WOMAN NAMED "ABBY" WHO RECEIVED A HEART TRANSPLANT!
In Ezekiel 36:26-27, God makes this promise to his people:
"26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."
God's people have been unwilling and unable to follow him and keep his commandments due to their heart condition. And so God says, I am going to give you a heart transplant. I am going to give you a new heart, a new spirit--so that you can keep my commandments.
What God is promising is not just forgiveness for his people, but transformation. He will help them become what he calls them to be--a pure act of grace.
In the above video, a young woman named Abby tells of needing a HEART TRANSPLANT--and talks about how someone's SON had to die in order for her to receive her new heart. Abby was incredibly grateful to this family's son because of what he gave her through his death.
I thought that this video was touching and filled with obvious Christian parallels. Christ died not only for our sins, but for our transformation. And through his death and the sending of his Spirit, we have received a new heart. Now, may we live our lives in gratitude to this Son who died for us and gave us a heart transplant!
What do you think of this story/illustration?
A Labor of Love - Ulfilas, Missionary, Spent 30 Years CREATING the Gothic Alphabet and Translating the Bible for the Gothic People
Before Jesus went to the cross, John's gospel tells us that Jesus washed his disciples' feet. While his disciples initially objected to this, Jesus did this to teach them about service. He said, "14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you" (John 1:1, 14-15).
While it is implied in the passage, the opening verse of John 14 makes it clear why Jesus washes his disciples; feet--because of his love for them. In setting the scene for the foot washing, john says, "1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end . . . . " His washing of the disciples' feet was an act of love--that pointed to the larger act of love that he would show through through his death on the cross--which he was calling them to imitate.
Love and service go together. Without love, we are unlikely to serve very long or with a very good attitude. And love without service is hollow sentimentalism at best, or at worse, simply non-existent. Jacob served 7 years for Rachel--was fulled into marrying Leah instead--and served another 7 years to be able to marry Rachel. And yet, the time passed for him as if it was nothing.
One of the great stories of love and service in Christian history is found in the story of Ulfilas. Ulfilas' parents were apparently captured by the Goths--East Germans--and he was raised among the Goths. After moving away once he had grown up, Ulfilas was appointed as a missionary bishop to the barbarian and warlike Goths. And in his missionary efforts, Ulfilas spent SEVEN YEARS creating an alphabet for the Goths (a previously illiterate people) and translating most all of the Bible into that language so that he might share Christ with them. It was said that he translated the whole Bible from Greek into the Gothic language that he had created except the book of Kings, due to its violent narratives which he did not want to encourage in the warlike Goths.
What could motivate someone to serve a people by actually sitting down and INVENTING an alphabet and translating nearly the whole Bible for a people who once apparently captured/enslaved his parents? Only love. The kind of love that Christ showed for us. As Jesus said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many" (Mt. 20:28).
And if we are to reach people for Christ, we too must have love in our hearts for them. True love. If it is not a labor of love, then we likely will not last seven years. Probably not seven months. Maybe not even seven minutes! But if we love those we are reaching out to? Well, like Jacob and Ulfilas and Christ--the time will pass quickly!
What do you think of Ulfilas' love and sacrifice? What other stories like this do you know?
I am convinced more and more that the essence of preaching is the proclamation of the redemptive story--God reaching out to humanity out of his love, sending Christ to live and sacrificially die for us, and raising Jesus Christ from the dead. It is a story about God taking the blackest of life and bringing light into the world. It is about the restoration of hope through the cross.
We are not primarily preaching about morality or better behavior or better marriages--though following God can lead to these things, and they are important. Like Paul, we preach Christ and him crucified--the only story which has the power to truly change and transform our lives, our morals, our marriages, and our family relations.
So for me, no topical preaching lesson will have more impact than if it is connected to this redemptive story. That includes lessons like Mother's Day sermons. The story below tells of a mother's love for her child, which causes her to sacrifice everything for him.
Solomon Rosenberg, his wife, his two sons, and his mother and father were arrested and placed in a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust of WWII. It was a labor camp and the rules were simple: As long as you can do your work, you are permitted to live. When you become too weak to do your work, then you will be exterminated.
Rosenberg watched his mother and father being marched off to their deaths when they became too weak to work. He knew that his youngest son, David, would be next because David had always been a frail child. Every evening when Rosenberg came back into the barracks after his hours of labor, he would search for the faces of his family. When he found them, they would huddle together, embrace one another, and thank God for another day of life.
One day Rosenberg came back, but he didn't see those familiar faces. He finally discovered his oldest son, Joshua, in a corner, huddled, weeping, and praying. He said, "Josh, tell me it's not true." Joshua turned and said, "It is true, Poppa. Today David was not strong enough to do his work, so they came for him."
"But where is your mother?" asked Mr. Rosenberg.
"Oh Poppa," he exclaimed. "When they came for David, he was afraid and he was crying. Momma said, ‘There is nothing to be afraid of, David,' and then she took his hand and went with him."
That, my friends, is powerful. That, my friends, is redemptive. That, my friends, illustrates the kind of love that Christ has for us--a love so strong that he gave himself up for us.
I would propose that what we find so good in mothers is that sacrificial, selfless love. It touches us because it points to that incredible sacrifice of Christ and the great redemptive story. Mothers have played an incredible part in this redemptive story, from Eve to Sarah to Tamar to Ruth to Bathsheba to Mary. And they continue to play an incredible part in this story in their lives of daily sacrifice. Mothers, we honor you for who you are and for who you so powerfully remind us of--Jesus Christ!
What stories in the Bible do you see that point to the redemptive roles of mothers?
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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.