Columbine High School is only a few miles from my office. On the
day of the shooting, the gunfire and explosions rocked the school.
Young people ran for their lives from the false safety of their
school. Students huddled for three and four hours behind barricaded
classroom doors as they listened to the mayhem just outside. Later,
their tear-stained faces revealed the horror they’d seen as they
told stories of carnage, terror, and reunion with loved ones. We
were a community in shock.
On the Saturday night before the tragic Columbine High School
shooting, my wife and I were at an outreach concert for kids on the
fringe of society. We sensed the strong presence of God, and
several members of the Trench Coat Mafia were there, including Eric
Harris. Between bands, the youth leader spoke and one of the things
he said was, “I sense from God that there is someone here who has
either killed someone or is planning to kill someone. We need to
talk and pray.” It was a direct message to Eric Harris. Yet perhaps
the message was too late. His heart was already too hardened by the
choices he had made. He left a few minutes later.
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Since that day, I’ve wondered what could’ve caused Eric Harris and
Dylan Klebold to methodically murder and injure their classmates
and teachers. Something was terribly wrong; something was
desperately missing in their lives and in the families that raised
As I’ve pondered these things, the critical call of God on my life
has been reaffirmed once again. We have to ask questions about the
present horror, but we also need to ask ourselves what happened in
these young men’s lives 10 years ago? When they were young
children, Eric and Dylan needed to have a real, true, living
experience with Jesus Christ and his power. So did their
For the church of Christ, this event dramatically points to the
desperate need to compel parents with young children to get a hold
of the reality of life in God — apart from all the trappings,
politics, and peripheral nonsense that we so often attach to it. We
need to call parents to live out their relationship with God in the
real day-to-day world — in front of and with their children. And
we need to take our impressionable young children by the hand and
lead them into a vital relationship with the Lord.
“We have to stop this!” is the cry across our land on the day
after, but the solution is not in tighter campus security or gun
control legislation. The solution is in the heart. The battle is
not against flesh and blood in this physical world but against the
strongholds and principalities of the enemy.
The answer is in our young children having a life-changing, real
encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and an ongoing life with him
years before anything like Columbine can ever happen. Family
ministries and children’s ministries have never been more crucial
to the cause of Jesus Christ than they are now. We need to do
preventative medicine before our children become diseased. We need
to reach them when they’re most likely to respond. We need to win
the little children to Christ and give them a firm, solid
foundation in God and his Word.
Pastors, ministers, leaders, and teachers, if we fail in this we
fail in our calling. We fail hundreds of other potential members of
the Trench Coat Mafia and groups like them.
Can you hear the call? It’s in the haunting wail of ambulances
rushing the wounded and dying young people to your community
hospital. Will the church rise up and take the challenge to make
the investment of time, money, and energy to truly reach children
from birth to 12 years old? Or will we simply continue to pick up
the pieces of the lives that are already broken, instead of
preventing them from tumbling over the edge in the first
Robb Dunham is a family and children’s evangelist in Denver,