When Columbine Violence Comes To The Church When Columbine Violence Comes to ChurchAs we mourn the victims of Sunday’s tragedy in Colorado, I hope we can also offer some answers to today’s troubled youth. Tiffany Johnson. Phillip Crouse. Stephanie Works. Rachael Works. Please take a moment to remember these four remarkable young people who died this past weekend at the hands of a troubled young man who claimed to hate Christians. It’s difficult to make any sense of the violence that occurred last Sunday in Colorado. Matthew Murray, 24, shot and killed Johnson and Crouse, two Youth With a Mission (YWAM) trainees, at their base near Denver. He then drove 70 miles to New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., and killed the two Works sisters, who were 18 and 16. Johnson, 26, and Crouse, 24, were just beginning vibrant outreach ministries. At their funeral on Wednesday, 2,000 mourners learned that Johnson, a pretty blond with dimples, had planned to participate in a missionary venture to Japan in the fall. Her uncle Rick Ronchak said her only hope “was to change the world by loving other people.” After Murray left the carnage at the YWAM base, he drove to New Life Church and pulled into its huge parking lot. The 11 a.m. service had already been dismissed and most of the 7,000 worshipers in attendance had left. After Murray shot Stephanie and Rachael Works, he entered the church lobby and began shooting wildly while people ducked for cover. Los Angeles pastor Jack Hayford, head of the Foursquare denomination, had preached the sermon at New Life that day and was in a second-story office at the time bullets started flying. He and the rest of the congregants were unhurt because security guard Jeanne Assam fired shots that stopped Murray. Police later said Murray shot himself. If you are like me, you’re struggling with this. It’s bad enough when a mentally unstable person attacks shoppers in a mall. But now the violence has come to church—and it’s killing our kids. Why is this happening? When reporters asked New Life Church’s pastor, Brady Boyd, how he viewed the situation, he offered this insight: “If you read the Bible, there are angelic and demonic forces at work on the earth today. But I also think that many times, those evil forces take advantage of people who already have existing conditions.” Police and family members have confirmed that Murray wrestled with personal demons. Although he was raised in a Christian home, he rebelled against faith after being expelled from the YWAM program. Shy and lonely, he reportedly dabbled in the occult, heard voices in his head and listened to the dark lyrics of Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park and Swedish metal bands. Investigators say that Murray posted rantings on the Internet under such names as “Dyingchild-65.” He even warned readers that he was planning to carry out personal revenge on Christians he felt had hurt him. On one post, he pledged to “make a stand for the weak and defenseless … this is for all the young people caught in the Nightmare of Christianity.” “This is YOUR Columbine,” he added. In case you haven’t noticed, Columbine-style violence has increased dramatically this year: * In February, Bosnian immigrant Sulejmen Talovic, 18, walked into a shopping mall in Salt Lake City and shot and killed five people. He and his mother had fled the civil conflict in his homeland in 1998, and investigators said he probably suffered from memories of war violence. * In April a shy 23-year-old Korean student named Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded many more on the Virginia Tech University campus in Blacksburg Va., before he shot himself. He was lonely, delusional and unable to speak in most social settings. * Earlier this month, Robert Hawkins, 19, entered a department store in Omaha, Neb., and killed eight people before turning his SKS assault rifle on himself. Police later reported that he was depressed and had “issues with his stepmother.” In notes found later, he talked about being “a piece of s--- all my life.” Thanks to rampant divorce and family dysfunction—and a culture that does not value unborn life—many young people today feel lost and vulnerable. They find it impossible to connect in healthy relationships. Many of them fight depression. Some of them vent their anger on their MySpace sites or numb their pain with drugs, sex or even vampirism. And a few of them—like Talovic, Cho, Hawkins and Murray—eventually snap. Their fantasies go beyond suicide. They want to take as many people as possible with them. It’s obvious from this week’s events that today’s young people have been marked by God to be a missionary generation. But the devil wants to stop them—and he has his guns loaded. I hope that these killings will jolt the church into action. Youth ministry in the 21st century involves so much more than campfires, volleyball and Bible pep talks. The shots fired in Colorado should remind us that we are engaged in a spiritual battle that we can’t ignore. J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. A memorial fund has been set up for the four victims of last weekend’s violence. To help the families of Tiffany Johnson and Phillip Crouse, go to ywam.org/articles/. To help the families of Stephanie Works and Rachael Works, go to newlifechurch.org/.