Last Thursday I rolled out of bed, got dressed and headed out the door to work a few hours before going to my one afternoon class and practice. Many of you can relate, waking up just like any other Thursday morning and going about your routines. My shift ended at 1:30pm and I pulled out my phone to read a text I had received at about 11:30am from my mom. It read, “Just heard some news. Just wanted to say I love you! Be safe.” As I read those words my mind automatically panicked and flickered through a list of family members and their health. I called her seconds later and that was when I heard that there had been a shooting at Umpqua Community College.
The reports had been flooding the news and my mom was horrified, left watching and listening to news reporters notify not only Oregon, but the nation of the terrifying details of yet another school shooting. I could hear the pain in her voice as she quietly cried and I knew that the first thing she thought of when she heard the news was me, a normal, everyday nineteen year old just trying to get an education, and it hit her that it really can happen to anyone, anywhere. In those moments of silence, I came across the same realization that it was Oregon, that it could have been Eugene, it could have been U of O, or even NCU.
Twenty-six year old Chris Harper-Mercer opened fire at UCC at about 10:38am last Thursday where he killed nine people and injuring nine more before taking his own life. Nine beautiful, wonderful souls were lost, eight students, Lucero Alcaraz (19), Treven Taylor Anspach (20), Rebecka Ann Carnes (18), Quinn Glen Cooper (18), Kim Saltmarsh Dietz (59), Lucas Eibel (18), Jason Dale Johnson (34), Sarena Dawn Moore (44) and one English professor, Lawrence Levine (67).
Many stories are now emerging of brave, selfless and faithful acts of heroes risking their own lives to save others. Chris Mintz, a thirty year old military veteran and father, is one of those amazing heroes. When the gunfire started, his thoughts were not of himself, but on protecting others. He tried to block the door of a classroom full of students and when the gunman approached the class, Mintz didn’t allow him in and was shot a total of seven times. Chris could only think of his son Tyrik, whose sixth birthday was that day. After leaving Chris for dead, the shooter moved on and left the classroom and all the students inside safe. He is alive and recovering in the hospital with two broken legs and several other gunshot wounds.
Shockingly enough, victims were often asked to stand up and answer the question “Are you a Christian?” and if they said yes they were shot fatally in the head, while if they said no they were usually shot in the leg. This religious persecution was revealed after eyewitnesses and injured victims spoke out about what happened in those deadly minutes on the community college campus. Each time a student stood up and proclaimed their faith to Christ, they were fatally shot. Yet, as the shooter continued to question each student, it did not prevent those Christians from acknowledging their faith. In the face of death by proclamation of faith, eight brave children of God stood firmly in their beliefs. They are a testimony of faithfulness to the Christian community. I pray that the Lord brings healing to all of the families, first responders, victims, students, faculty and staff involved in this horrific event. I pray that he puts his hand over the whole city of Roseburg in this time of need.
The University of Oregon hosted a vigil on Monday October 5 for local students and faculty of both the U of O and Northwest Christian University to go show support to the Oregon school through prayer and words of encouragement. Many Beacons attended such event, including Junior Morgan Horn who said:
“The quart yard slowly started to fill up as 7pm snuck up on us. NCU (students) were the first people to show up for the vigil. We came and sat down and talked quietly amongst ourselves, joined by many of our kind faculty and staff. President Joe Womack, Student Life Faculty and our Resident Life Faculty, as well as a few professors such as Johnny Lake and Pastor Troy who came to support our sister school, UCC. The crowd grew, and they began the vigil. There was talk about guns and sorrows and a life we should live with no regrets… there was singing and dancing, but the crowd remained quiet and solemn throughout the whole vigil. Some cried, some hugged and we all stood when asked to stand if we were Christians. I think NCU was the most eager to stand when the crowd was asked if we called ourselves a Christian. A women in the back yelled, ‘Can people of all religions stand up?’ And as one, we all united together, holding hands with our candles lit in unity for those who were so brutally murdered. Pastor Troy went up and stood with one of the speakers as they closed the vigil with a moment of silence. I know that the silence cut through the hearts of everyone standing there, and I hugged my best friend Mojo as we squeezed our eyelids shut and softly cried and prayed for the people affected at UCC. It was an emotional night, one of which affected all of Oregon’s campus. Afterwards we were asked to ‘go in peace,’ but it took about three minutes for anyone to move. We just stood there, candles in hand, waiting. No one wanting to let go just yet or make the first move. But together, we waited. Then all at once we went our own ways.”
Almost a week has passed since that day. We continue to get up and do our daily routines, but I ask you to honestly take sometime today, this week, this month, this year and in this life you have been blessed with, to appreciate the many blessings we so often take for granted. Don’t take a simple sign of love, such as a text or phone call with your loved ones for granted. Be thankful for your education, whether you’re a freshman and have been on campus for a little over a month or a senior anxious to leave, some students went to school on October 1st, 2015 only starting their fourth day as a college student and never left. We are blessed for each second we have on this Earth. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by this tragedy, NCU loves UCC.
- Chris Mintz Story: http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/02/us/oregon-school-shooting-hero/ and GoFundMe Page (other victims’s pages are linked also) at https://www.gofundme.com/s75ge9y4