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Four former Columbine students worshiped with Virginia Tech's New Life Christian Fellowship (NLCF) yesterday. It was the church's first Sunday worship gathering since the April 16 massacre that claimed 33 lives, including gunman Seung-Hui Cho.

Christians were among the victims. Two NLCF members died, and 10 other victims were connected in some way to the church. Church leaders honored the dead, prayed for their families, and addressed why-and-how questions that went beyond forensics.

The four Christians who as adolescents survived the massacre at Columbine High School almost eight years ago traveled to the southwestern Virginia campus to guide church leaders and minister to students processing grief, anger, and sorrow.

Wendy Chinn, a counseling graduate student who leads NLCF's women's ministry, acknowledged that everyone is weary of the question, "How are you doing?"

"Some lost someone extremely close. Others lost an acquaintance," Chinn said to the almost 400 people and network television cameras in the full auditorium. "Others still had a class in Norris, lived in A-J [West Ambler Johnston dormitory]. We remember where we were when it happened. We all grieve very differently. We're all going through it together. We know this is hard, know it's going to take time."

Chris Backert, one of three NLCF pastors, referred to Mark 4, where Christ's disciples were caught in a boat during a storm. "We have all been through a storm. Why was it her? Why was it him? It could have been me." Backert noted that Jesus did not cause the storm. All the world's evil, he said, is sin that results when people choose to rebel against God. "When that tragedy strikes us, it also strikes God."

Congregation members submitted written questions asking whether ...

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April 2007

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