Faith General Virginia Tech

Ten Years Later

VT Cross with black ribbonApril 16, 2007. A cold Monday morning in a sleepy town that would change the world. I slept in, waking up to find that the world of the night before was nothing like the world of now. A gunman on campus. People injured and dead. Lots of rumors but no one knew anything for sure. What was supposed to be the uneventful last few weeks of my senior year took our quiet corner of southwest Virginia and made it the focus of the world. In many ways, it feels like yesterday. In other ways, it feels like it was an eternity ago.

What we learned that day is that life is fleeting. Evil is all around us and comes when we least expect it. We are like flowers: here one day and gone the next. But for those who know Christ, we can have hope even in the face of unspeakable evil. How appropriate that the 10th anniversary of such a dark day falls on the day when we celebrate the ultimate victory over evil. Jesus Christ willingly laid his life down on the cross to pay the debt that you and I owed but could never pay. A good man payed the debt of evil people. But the story doesn’t end on the cross. The real story is the empty grave on Easter morning. God raised Jesus to life, forever ending the curse of sin for those who know him, and making it so that we can be right with God, both now and for all eternity. Just like Jesus rose, we too will rise.

I can’t think of a more appropriate thing to celebrate on this anniversary. This song is both a powerful reminder of what Easter is all about – and was the song that became our theme in those dark days where we discovered what the new normal would be for us at Virginia Tech.

Current Events Faith General Virginia Tech

Reflections on the Massacre

VT HopeIt’s been a year. It feels so far away, yet it could have been yesterday. The day that my quiet little town of Blacksburg became the center of the world.

From the first I heard – a phone call from my sister saying that something had gone terribly wrong in her dorm – blood everywhere, it seemed unreal. Nothing in the news yet. The suspense was unsettling. Surely something that had my sister so upset would be at least mentioned in the news. Finally, an email. “A shooting incident occurred at West Amber Johnston earlier this morning. Police are on the scene and are investigating.” I never knew so many words could say so little. Perfectly written PR mumbo jumbo. Still nothing in the news.

I’m still not sure what to think when another email arrives. The composure of the first email long gone. The subject was “PLease stay put” with a brief panick-stricken message: “A gunman is loose on campus. Stay in buildings until further notice. Stay away from all windows”. This is not just a shooting incident. God, what is going on?

The day brings back memories of September 11, 2001. A day spent in shock. The pentagon, less than nine miles from where I sat in high school, was the victim of terrorism. I had studied terror, but it was something that happened overseas. This was America after all. In much the same way, I sat in my black office chair staring at the computer screen. Continually pressing the refresh button to see what was going on. Reading news coverage from hundreds of miles away about events going on just blocks from where I was sitting. It seemed the number of the dead just kept rising. First it was one, then four, soon 14, finally rising to 32. The worst massacre in the history of the nation was unfolding in the kind of town you came to in order to escape senseless killings.

As I joined others to reflect that evening, emotions ran raw. There was a lot of crying, even more hugging, and certainly a lot of praying. Still, the whole thing felt artificial, like a movie. Was this really happening? My connections to those who were confirmed dead were limited – just friends of friends. Which kept me somewhat insulated from the events. Don’t get me wrong: I was very glad that my friends were safe. But things still felt unreal. I was able to help support those who were hurting, but I hadn’t grieved for me yet.

A couple days after the massacre – I don’t remember exactly when – everything came together for me. I was looking at more news, watching campuses from across the nation overflow with Hokie spirit. The only way you can understand Hokie spirit is if you spend some time in Blacksburg. It’s something that goes beyond sports and school loyalty. Something I’ve never felt anywhere else, and I’ve been on a lot of college campuses. It was amazing to see the whole country get caught up in a glimpse of this spirit. But the one thing that did it was when I saw a picture that would come to mean more to me than any others over the coming months.

The picture was simple. Not something that you’d want on your living room wall. A picture of a storied bridge two hours up the road. The Beta Bridge in Charlottesville, home of The University of Virginia. One place where Hokies usually aren’t welcome, even though that’s more trash talk than truth. When I saw this picture, I lost it. I cried all those tears that the previous few days had stored up in me. If Hokie spirit can touch UVA, truly anything is possible. I can’t even explain exactly why this picture gets to me, but I still tear up today when I see it.

Beta Bridge

As I grieved and continued to do my best to meet people where they were at, things started to change. I have never felt such a palpable spiritual change in my life. We had seen evil. On that day, there was no denying that evil exists in the world. An evil so dark that we can’t explain it. But what we saw after that is that there is a God who has overcome evil who is in the world. As people started to return to the new normal, people came together. People who had wanted nothing to do with God were suddenly seeing God in the midst of tragedy. The people of God came together and prayed. And on those days God poured out his blessings on us because we simply asked.

Less than two weeks later, many groups from across campus came together to declare that we truly are all here because we’re all needed parts of the body of Christ. A powerful night when many people were finally able to experience true worship again. I will never forget standing on the side of that hill in the heart of downtown Blacksburg where we sang these always powerful words that will never be the same to me again.

Savior he can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever, author of salvation
He died and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

Those words were challenging at first to sing on that crisp spring evening. And sometimes they still are. I teared up every time I heard this song even during the summer.

As I reflect on the massacre a year later, I remind myself that evil is very real in this world, but I know a God who has conquered evil and the grave for eternity.

Faith Music Virginia Tech

Just Wanted to Say

Awesome last two Wednesday nights at The Gathering 703.  Looking forward to getting to know more of my Mason peeps.

Headed to Blacksburg for a few days tomorrow.  Enjoyed the short trip this weekend and looking forward to a few more days at good ‘ol VT.  And the concert can’t hurt either.

Current Events Faith Virginia Tech

Prayers from Around the World

VT Ribbon Cross 4-16-07I want to draw your attention to a page we put up on the vtONE site sharing some of the prayers and stories that are flowing in from around the world. Feel free to check out the page and the announcement post on the vtONE site.

Current Events Faith Virginia Tech

Please Pray for Virginia Tech

It’s been the kind of day that you wouldn’t wish on anyone here at Virginia Tech. Our campus has been shaken, but God is still our king.

As people are coping with the loss of so many members of our community, we want to take every chance that we have to lift our campus up in prayer. There’s a few specific things that we can pray for:

  1. The injured members of our community
  2. The families of those who have passed away, especially that people in their lives would be able to share the Good News with them while they’re more receptive
  3. That a tragedy like this one would not derail what God is doing on this campus. God is moving powerfully here like we saw two weekends ago, and a tragedy like this is no excuse to let Satan have the victory instead of God.
  4. Ministry opportunities as our campus heals to share the Good News with people who wouldn’t have cared at all 24 hours ago.

Gatherings related to the tragedy in Blacksburg:

  • 7 p.m., West Eggleston Hall on Virginia Tech campus – sponsored by IV
  • 8 p.m., Henderson Lawn on Virginia Tech campus – sponsored by VT
  • 8 p.m. at the Old Red Cross Building (130 Jackson Street, Downtown Blacksburg) – sponsored by NLCF
  • 6 or 7 p.m., Blacksburg Church of Christ
  • 7 p.m., Blacksburg Presbyterian Church
  • University ceremony, 2pm TOMORROW in Cassel Coliseum
  • Planned gathering for the Christian body Wednesday night (details not yet available)

Outside Blacksburg:

  • 6 p.m., St. John’s Episcopal Church, Roanoke
  • 8 p.m., McLean Bible Church Community Room A, McLean, VA
  • 8 p.m., Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

We appreciate your prayers as our campus struggles to resume life. Please post a comment if you’re aware of any other goings on that would be of interest to the Christian body at VT ro cool ways of how God has worked through this bad situation.

Faith General Virginia Tech

This rollercoaster we call life

Rollercoaster photo by user cmx82It’s been one heck of a month for me. I’m in that bittersweet stage where I’m both very glad that my education is almost over while at the same time not wanting to be done.

The week leading up to vtONE was a rollercoaster all by itself. There was so much still to be done going into that week, and we had no idea how to get it all done. God delivered, but was teaching us patience in the process. Saturday night was powerful beyond words. The Holy Spirit was all over Commonwealth Ballroom, and I’m praying that the fire from that night will never be extinguished. The fire has already been contagious–our anointed band has been invited to play at New River Community College because of the fire of God they saw at Virginia Tech this weekend.

God has been faithful in helping me to be productive and get all my work done. Work didn’t bother me at all during the vtONE lead up week. Now, I have all but one of this week’s assignments done. I didn’t expect to be done so fast, and I know that my productivity was a gift from God for some specific reasons. Last night, Tim’s father passed away unexpectedly, and I have been able to dedicate time that I didn’t expect to have (was expecting to be doing classwork) to being there for Tim.

Another way that God was with me during vtONE was by not letting my allergies get into the way. I didn’t have any significant allergy trouble before the worship event, even though the pollen levels were high. This week, I’ve had trouble sleeping, my head feels weird, and I sound like a cow in pain when I attempt to sing. I’m used to being like this in allergy season, so it was a huge relief to get through the vtONE event without feeling anything.

The original house I made an offer on fell through, but I have some more leads on potential houses and house-related stuff. I was feeling somewhat uncertain about moving forward this weekend, but my wise counsel seems to all be in agreement that it’s a good thing for me to do. My hesitation all revolves around on the fact that I’m really not sure where God wants me to be and what I should be doing. I’ve loved almost every minute of my time leading vtONE, whether things were going good or bad, and I don’t want my graduation to mark the end of my ministry. I’m praying about what comes next in my ministry life, but have been getting more questions than answers. And that’s why I’m thankful that I have a great job lined up, since not knowing what to do and being broke would be a bad combination.

I will bless the Lord who guides me;
     even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the Lord is always with me.
     I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
     My body rests in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
     or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life,
     granting me the joy of your presence
     and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Psalm 18:7-11

Sports Virginia Tech

Basketball upset over #1 UNC

Hokie upset 94-88 over UNC

We just blew #1 ranked UNC out this afternoon in basketball.  94-88.  I was there.  Very exciting game–we were up nearly the entire game, and at one point had a 22 point lead.  We were up by 20 with five minutes left.  Of course, we rushed the court.  We’re undefeated against teams from North Carolina: ASU, Duke, UNC-Greensboro, and now UNC.  Go hokies! story

General Virginia Tech

DONE with another semester!

I’m done with another semester! Just one more to go!

I’m also done with my Christmas shopping and my Christmas wrapping.

Boy does it feel good to be DONE.

I’m hoping to get back into a more regular blogging schedule, now that my life has some sense of normality again.

Sports Virginia Tech

It’s starting to feel like fall in Blacksburg

Hokie VictoryAnd we had our first night game tonight. It’s very chilly now (39 degrees), but it was worth the cold to play at night. Plus, the trees are turning colors.

I’m also going to withdraw from Operating Systems. Praying that we can get Embedded System Design to count as an equivalent course so we never have to take OS again.

General Photography Virginia Tech

Pictures from my Sabbath over the long weekend

In the next week, I have three projects due, a test, a testing plan (think paper), and a quiz on top of my regular homework.  I won’t be updating this week, so I figured I’d make a quick post and share some pictures from this past weekend and my Sabbath.

Sherry Memorial Christian Church in Newport, VA  Old fashion stained glass clock in downtown Roanoke  Cool reflection of a building in downtown Roanoke