"Martyred" for Faith
26 April, 1999
By Patrick Goodenough
CNS Jerusalem Bureau Chief
(CNS) More than 70,000 U.S. teens attending a
weekend gathering at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan prayed for the pupils of
Columbine High School, and in particular remembered the girl whose confession of faith in
the face of death has inspired young Christians in Denver and across America.
Cassie Bernall, the 17-year-old who was shot after telling one of two teen-age gunmen she
believed in God, is due to be buried Monday.
Her story has made an impact around the world.
According to the Denver Post one of the perpetrators of last Tuesday's armed
assault had taunted Bernall: "Do you believe in God?" When she replied that she
did, "he pulled the trigger," said an eyewitness.
The paper said her faith "made her a martyr" and a hero in the eyes of her young
friends at the church youth group she attended. Forty members of the youth group were at
Columbine last Tuesday. All but Bernall survived.
Religion Today said Bernall was "known for carrying her Bible to school every
day and wearing a 'What Would Jesus Do?' bracelet."
It quoted witnesses as saying that, when asked whether she believed in God, "Bernall
said she believed in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, and was shot in the
CNN talkshow host Larry King spoke shortly after the shooting to a friend of
Bernall's, Mickie Cain.
Cain said Bernall "completely stood up for God when the killers asked her if there
was anyone who had faith in Christ. She spoke up and they shot her for it. And that is the
most brave thing anyone could ever do, and I I want that memory to live on '"
According to reports, gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold also targeted athletes and
minority students, while other victims appeared to have been chosen randomly.
Another pupil known to be a committed Christian, Rachael Scott, 17, was also shot dead in
Her Assemblies of God pastor, Wallace Hickey, said Scott led a weekly prayer and Bible
study group of fellow teens for the past year and a half, the denomination's news service
Scott was described as "a remarkable, committed Christian girl who had a passion for
God and for people. She was fun-loving and gifted in drama and public speaking."
The Texas-based Youth Mania ministry hosted a weekend "Acquire the Fire" rally
in Pontiac, Michigan at the weekend. Although it was planned before last Tuesday's
Colorado school massacre, the organizers said in a statement, the event took on added
poignancy as 73,000 participants declared their "cure for the moral virus that has
spawned such violence faith in Christ."
More than 400 attendees from Colorado stood to their feet while those surrounding them
prayed for them and their state.
The teens also signed messages which will be incorporated into a huge card to be send to
the school. A collection was taken to buy a Bible for every pupil at Columbine.
Teen Mania president Ron Luce told the gathering the school shootings were "a wake-up
call for our country" and urged the youths to "start a revolution of
righteousness, love and forgiveness."
"Every school has kids who are loners, who are outcasts," he said. "This
weekend is about generational change. I encourage you to express your faith by reaching
out to people who are lonely or different. If you really want to change the world, love
Earlier, Luce told a press conference that while "the predominant perception is that
today's teens are a generation that won't take responsibility," those attending the
rally were "raising the standard for themselves and their peers. Our hope is that
these young people will go back to their homes, schools and communities as ambassadors to
take the message of God's love."