A Letter to My Daughter, and Students of Umpqua Community College

KorJoe

I’ve had a lot of thoughts and feelings since Thursday, October 1- the day a madman opened fire in our Community College, killing 9 students, injuring many others, and forever changing the lives of so many students and families.

“My 17 year old should NOT have to deal with this. My girl should not be notified that she will no longer meet in Snyder 15 because it has been writhed with bullets; because it was turned into a murder scene; because God’s people were martyred for their faith right there, where she sat learning how to write business memos.”

These are just some of the emotions I’ve felt.

“Why should my child have to sit in math class feeling the pain and sorrow of that empty seat- the one 59 yr old Kim sat in just yesterday, before her life was taken from her?”

But you know what? This horrible tragedy is an eye opener to us. This sorrow, and our feelings of anger and emptiness, confusion and unbelief- these are emotions given to us for a reason. That reason is not to respond in vengeance.

I’m desperately grasping for a way to turn my mind from it, desiring God would turn time around and make it go away. But that’s not going to happen. Yes, God allowed this for reasons beyond our mind’s ability to grasp and I’m looking for ways to be thankful.

Of course I’m selfishly thankful my girl wasn’t there- that it happened on the only day she wasn’t in that room. And then I think about all those families. The “what-ifs” still flood my thoughts, and they remind me how precious this life is. Our time here in this tent of flesh is short, like a vapor, here one day and gone the next.

I hope we can all wake up with that reality. When we are bombarded with weariness and burdened with sorrow, let it take our minds straight to the truth that this life is but a moment and eternity is forever.

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So as my girl returns to classes on a campus that will never look the same, as she seeks out her new classroom and scans the faces seated beside her, the smooth walls not riddled with bullets, may that moment of fear turn to all of God’s truths.

As she attempts to hold herself together and grasp equations and new math laws, silently mourning the woman with long grey hair, let my baby quietly pray for Kim’s family, for this community, for our nation, and for the condition of her own soul before God.

I pray this drives her heart to her Savior and opens her eyes to the evil that surrounds her. That she may understand that this war is not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. That she is at war with the ruler of darkness who seeks to destroy her life and soul.

Without obvious, heart breaking, life shattering evil, we grow blind to the hidden wickedness surrounding us. We forget the goodness and all-powerful God who paid a great price for our great sin because of His great love. How can we go a day and not acknowledge that?

So I’m taking this anger, grief, sorrow, and great burden and turning it to prayer and praise.

God is good, Korrie. He is perfect and His ways unsearchable. His love for you reaches beyond the heavens. Satan is your enemy. He hates you with a hatred far greater than you’ve ever felt. His desire is to destroy you and everyone you care about.

Satan Is Real.
His Wickedness Surrounds You.
Don’t Ever Forget That.

And don’t let that reality overshadow the Tenderness, Compassion, and Grace of your God who quiets you with His love and rejoices over you with singing and Gladness.

Do not fear, let not your hands be weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, the Mighty One, will save!

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Prayer for Roseburg, Oregon

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What is Roseburg, Oregon really like?

Of course people want to know.

Our residents have offered written words and shared photos displaying Roseburg as a humble community full of compassion and strength.

Since being placed in the nation’s spotlight, we’ve taken the opportunity to tell people what our community is like. We don’t want to go down in history as the city of the #UmpqyaCommunityCollege tragedy; another tally mark representing one more massive school shooting.

Roseburg

A short drive through our town of 22,000 displays beautiful mountains, rivers, trees turning with the changing season, and businesses offering support by donating goods, services, and sharing condolences. We’ve spoken up on news sites and social media with calls to #PrayforUCC and #PrayForRoseburgOregon.

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Years ago my family had friends visit from Phoenix, Arizona. They stood in the middle of Fir Grove Park, watching children run after soccer balls, and admiring the surrounding terrain. Awed by what they saw, they looked at my husband and me and asked, with honest curiosity, “This place is beautiful! Do you always feel like you’re on vacation?” Looking around, we smiled in agreement. We live in a gorgeous community.  Unfortunately it often takes tragedy and heartache to notice the people and blessings around you. I’m noticing them.

I’m also noticing the things about our community that aren’t being shared locally or nationwide. Nobody wants to talk about those things. Nobody wants to hear the difficult truth, especially in the midst of such pain.

My heart is broken! I wake in the morning burdened for those suffering loss and for my own daughter, a UCC student, and her friends. I’m broken because we have a broken community.

What do we really want, Douglas County? We say we need prayer and post it across our small city, but what do we want prayer for?  I imagine many would answer that question with “comfort”.

Do you know that our local public schools called on our surrounding churches? Seeking comforters, they asked Christians, armed with the Word of God and the truth of salvation, to minister to students. However, our school shut the doors long ago and told God He was unwelcome. When our invited Christians attempted to share with heartbroken, confused students, they were met with resistance, and treated with hostility. They were limited as to what they could share and threatened eviction if they crossed the line.

People bearing God’s love, truth, compassion, and freedom were placed before students ready to receive hope and shut down by school counselors.

Why did they ask these people to come? Why are local businesses asking for prayer? Why have we refused to allow God in our schools, and are now asking Him why He wasn’t at our local campus the day a madman opened fire on a room full of students? Why, when we have rejected God, are we asking for His help now? What do we want Him to do?

Do our schools want momentary comforters without lasting change? God’s people have answers and hope and truth. Our community is craving these things. Would our local first responders have even considered putting a simple bandage on a victim’s wound, then sending them on their way, only to bleed to death later? That would be heartless and reckless. Why do our schools want to share a brief word of comfort only to let these students silently suffer without words of life?

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Do you want prayer, Roseburg? You say we are #UCCStrong. I don’t know about you, but I feel heavy moments of intense weakness. I feel as if our very breath has been suddenly knocked from us, and we are struggling for air.

So if we’re going to share the “real” Roseburg, Oregon, let’s share the whole picture. Can we be honest with this country, with our community, and with ourselves, by not cutting and pasting pieces of the truth?

We are a desperate people in need of a Mighty God. We are weak. Our community is full of evil people seeking to take wicked actions. Our drug use is through the roof, and many of our families are barely hanging on. We cannot put a bandage on our pain, leaving gaping wounds of death.

I pray Roseburg would be a city known nationwide for its striking scenic displays of nature; that many would be drawn here because of its beauty as well as our unity. But more than this, I hope we can represent a humble community; that as we try and stand strong in desperate times, we also acknowledge our great need for Christ. We are weak and in need of prayer. Let it be known that our #UCCStrength comes from God, and God alone.

So wherever you are reading this from, please lift our community in prayer. Please join me in asking God to show us our need, and heal our land.

I hope we can be known nationwide as Roseburg, Oregon- a city asking Christ back into its schools and leaning on the strength of God.