A GATHERING AT VIRGINIA TECH, THROUGH UNITY IN CHRIST,
TO CELEBRATE LIFE FROM DEATH AND HOPE FROM TRAGEDY.
When It all started...
April 16, 2017 marked the 10 year anniversary of the mass shooting that occurred on the campus of Virginia Tech. On that day a thief reared it's violent hands, stole innocence, pronounced death, and left tragedy in it's wake. The community of Virginia Tech was marked as a place of death and massacre while the eyes of the entire world watched and felt the resounding impact.
April 16, 2017 also falls on Easter Sunday, the same day on which we celebrate the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus swallowed up death in victory and His blood speaks a better word over the campus of Virginia Tech.
For several months, over 70 local church and campus ministry leaders have come together to forge deeper relationships and dialogued about long-term plans to work together to love and serve the valley in which we live. The heartbeat of the April 16th gathering came out of their prayers and conversations. The Lord clearly spoke of redemption, healing our land, unity, life from death, and hope from tragedy. We were extremely expectant to see the Lord fulfill His own words as we postured our hearts in humility and gathered together to worship our risen King, yet up until two weeks before the gathering we didn't know who the main speaker would be.
We trusted in the Lord and waited on Him. We didn't lean on our own understanding. We knew he had an ace up his sleeve. Come to find out, He had much more than an ace, He had Allen and Tammy Hill, parent of Rachel Hill right under His wing. Allen vulnerably shared about the darkest time in their life, “There is no way to describe that sense that falls upon your soul. We only have one kid. We’ve poured everything into her, and it’s like life has just stopped… You would not wish this feeling on your worst enemy.”
Their powerful story seemed to grip the hearts of all those in attendance as Allen told of their decade long journey of walking through their pain. His words ultimately broadcasted hope and healing, as well as forgiveness for their daughter’s murderer. Their story of losing their only child and finding life in Christ captivated an entire ballroom full of community members. “This is about life, and God began in the valley of weeping and started turning it into a valley that was a well in a garden right there where death stared us in the face. We sensed that God would bring resurrection life out of it.”
The gathering provided the community with a place to unite and experience spiritual and emotional healing in many ways. Speakers from diverse backgrounds shared the platform together with a sense of sincere love and joy on the typically somber day. Father David Sharland from Newman Catholic Campus Ministry and Pastor Jim Pace from New Life Christian Fellowship (NLCF) both delivered encouraging messages.
Beyond encouraging messages, the event contained several other activities designed to lift the spirits of the community members and provide support. The music ensemble lead attendees in worship was made up of eight individuals from six different churches. Time was taken to thank first responders for their service and an inspirational dance was presented. Several local florists even donated white flowers to the event and participants were encouraged to take them on their way to the university-sponsored candlelight vigil and give them to other members of the community as a symbol of hope and life.
The Darkness of April 16 Lifted With Unity and Hope! Jesus redeemed life from death and hope from tragedy.
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