Jesus Freaks Essay, Research Paper
November 16, 2000
Where was God on April 20, 1999 when thirteen innocent people were murdered? (Destiny Ministries 5) Cassie Bernall is a martyr for today’s teenagers due to the Columbine Massacre. What exactly is a martyr? The Columbine Massacre shook the whole nation because of the students that killed their own colleagues. Cassie Bernall was a girl that stood up for her belief in God when one of the murderers held a gun to her head.
A martyr is a person that defends a principle, even though it means giving up everything that is important to that person (Webster 236). Some martyr’s are put in jail for standing up for Jesus Christ or God. Most martyrs are killed because of their beliefs. Martyrs are the strange ones who challenge society with a different way of thinking. They are the rebels and heretics of today (dc Talk 6). For some, standing up for Jesus actually means dying for Him (dc Talk 7). In John 15:13 NIV Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Today some people refer to martyrs as Jesus Freaks. The very nature of Jesus Freaks is to thrust away from the mob mentality, away from the things that society tells us to care about (dc Talk 8).
“Yesterday morning in Littleton (Colorado) many parents kissed their children goodbye not knowing that they would never see them alive again. (Armey 1) Eric Harris
and Dylan Klebold were two teenagers that walked into their high school and killed students while the students were in school. In all, thirteen people were killed by the murderers. The two boys were part of the Trench Coat Mafia that killed a dozen students and a teacher before turning the guns on themselves. Cassie Bernall and other students hid in the library of Columbine High School while bullets flew over their heads. Some students risked their lives in order to escape from being killed. Cassie Bernall was hiding behind a table in the library when one of the shooters told her to stand up and asked her if she believed in God. She told him yes and the shooter shot her because of her faith. Cassie collapsed and died on the library floor. There are other tales of students being shot because of their faith.
Before Cassie Bernall became a Christian, she was an outsider at school. Cassie had written letters to a friend about how she could kill her parents, Brad and Misty Bernall, and end all of her problems. Cassie’s parents found the letters, made copies of them, and gave them to the police department. When Cassie got home from school, her parents confronted her. After the confrontation, the Bernall’s broke all of Cassie’s ties with her friends. The Bernall’s enrolled Cassie in a Christian school. Cassie was not allowed to answer the phone and no longer had any privileges. She was allowed to go to a youth group, but that was all she could do. Her parents even went as far to put a monitor on their phone so they could know what she was doing when they weren’t home. Cassie had lost all of the trust that she earned from her parents. Misty Bernall didn’t go back to work so that she could watch over Cassie. Cassie had her backpack searched, her phone calls monitored, and her bedroom searched. Furtively investigating their daughter, they say,
was the hardest thing they ever had to do–until they had to close their daughter’s casket.
Then something happened. A shift, a transformation, occurred. At a weekend outing with her youth group, Cassie Bernall poured out her heart, asked for forgiveness, and moved to break off the bonds that held her fast. Her turn-around was not a moment of sudden, blinding revelation so much as the culminating point of a long process of self-clarification that had been, on Misty Bernall’s account, harrowing for all concerned. At first, indeed, the mother was skeptical. Was it a ploy, another instance of playing at something? Slowly her parents became convinced that their child had changed. This happened two years before her murder, and she never veered off the new path. Her parents agreed to her request to return to a public school, as she found the Christian school “stuffy.”( Cassie started school at Columbine High School her freshman year. Little did she know that in two years she would be dead.
It was a Tuesday morning, right after their first-hour photography class. “I can’t believe I wore this shirt,” she told Amanda. “It looks terrible on me.” Amanda reassured her, told her she looked beautiful, told her she loved her, and told her she’d see her later, probably during lunch, when they usually studied together in the library. (Krigiss 2) Amanda Meyer was Cassie’s best friend. She was lucky. She decided to go out for lunch for the first and only time she has ever gone for lunch. By Tuesday afternoon, everything was tragically different. Cassie was studying in the library like she and Amanda normally did. Only that day, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into the library and started to kill students. And then at last they reached a bright––eyed
seventeen––year––old named Cassie Bernall. Either Harris or Klebold (none of the cowering students could see which it was) put a gun to her head and asked, “Do you believe in God?” She paused for a second, according to her classmates. And then she answered, “Yes.” “She was scared, but she sounded strong,” said her Bible––study friend Joshua Lapp, a sophomore who was hiding nearby, “like she knew what she was going to answer.” Staring at her, the gunman asked, “Why?” Before she could reply, he pulled the trigger and shot her through the temple, killing her instantly. (Bottum 1) That single act of faith caught the whole nation’s attention. Cassie took a stand for what she believed in and didn’t care what the outcome was going to be. Many books and youth programs have been written since Cassie was murdered. The “Yes, I believe in God” Challenge was started for Cassie. The challenge is a forty-day assignment journal that is designed to help you get closer to God and Jesus Christ. Thousands of Christian students in middle school, high school, and college get involved in the challenge. The challenge encourages students to talk to other students about God and Jesus like Cassie. “Share the power of the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” A quote from St. Francis of Assisi who was trying to explain how important it is that we show the power of God through our lifestyle before we talk. Cassie did just that. She inspired her fellow students to want to get closer to God by her lifestyle.
After Cassie was murdered for her faith, many students turned to God. Some turned to Him for answers and others for help in understanding. Students were drawn closer to God, because of Cassie’s faith and strong belief. Misty Bernall has often been
asked whether she wished that Cassie begged for her life and would have said no that
she didn’t believe in God. “I can’t think of a more honorable way to die than to profess your faith in God. We were very proud of her before this happened in her stand for Christ.”
Dc Talk published a book based on the stories of martyrs called Jesus Freaks. The opening story is that of Cassie. It retells the story of the gunmen asking her if she believed in God and her saying yes and then the gunmen killing her. This story could have taken place back in Medieval times, but instead it happens in Littleton, Colorado. This book is even influenced because of Cassie.
Cassie Bernall started a world epidemic of Christians trying to spread the word of God because her devout faith. Now students are no longer afraid to talk about God freely in their everyday conversations. Cassie wasn’t afraid of dying because she knew that she was going to heaven to sit with God. Her complete trust and faith in God encouraged others to carry on with their relationships with God.
A martyr is someone who unselfishly gives up everything they have to stand up for a purpose. Cassie Bernall knew that on April 20,1999, her purpose would be fulfilled. The Columbine Massacre shook the whole nation. Today, students are still afraid to go to school because they are afraid of being shot. It’s a shame that people died because of this and now those students have to go back to the same school and face the memories of that day. Cassie stood up for what she believed in and became a martyr for today’s teenager’s. She never backed down from her beliefs and now she is in Heaven with God being the Guardian Angel of Columbine High School.
1. Armey, Dick Representative. “Events at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.” FDCH Press Releases, April 21, 1999.
2. ”Awakening in Littleton.” First Things. 1995. J. Bottum.
3.Campus Life. “Not Ashamed.” Jul/Aug 99, Vol. 58 Issue 1, p 4.
4. dc Talk. Jesus Freaks. Oklahoma: Albury Publishing, 1999.
5. Destiny Ministries. “Yes, I Believe in God” Challenge Forty Day Assignment Journal. September 20, 1999.
6. Kirgiss, Crystal. Campus Life. “Forever friends.” Mar/Apr2000, Vol. 58 Issue 8, p30
7. Zoba, Wendy Murray. “Tough Love Saved Cassie.” Christianyity Today. October 4th, 1999. Vol. 43 Issue 11, p 41.