Last Friday was a scary day at the local high school and middle school. A student saw an adult hiding in the stairway in the gym. When the teacher went to check, he ran off and they couldn’t find him. The school put everyone in a lockdown so no one could enter or leave the class they were in. The Galax Police, Carroll and Grayson Deputies, the State Police, and even State Police Helicopters came and swept the school to make sure everyone was safe. After the national events of the past several weeks in Bailey, Colorado and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, everyone was definitely on edge.

The students I have talked to, seemed to do ok, but there were some scared students and parents. Most of the students had cell phones, so they called parents and let them know what was going on. Many parents of course came immediately to the school, but since the school was in lockdown, there was nothing they could do. In fact, it actually caused problems with the police having trouble reaching the school.

I have observed that the reaction of students had a lot to do with their age. The younger middle school students and high schoolers seemed to be much more troubled. I think that this experience was scary for them because it was one of their first experiences with the evil in this world. After reading and hearing about what happened in the other school shootings, they realized that it could happen anywhere, even here in our small town. I think it was a loss of innocence for many of them. The transition from childhood to teenage years unfortunately consists of a realization that the world is far from perfect. The older teens seemed to just accept the lockdown as a precaution and a hassle. Why the difference? One aspect is that the younger students are still learning how to keep their emotions under control. As any youth worker or parent knows, the early teenage years exhibit an amplification of emotions. What I mean by that is that all their emotions are extreme. They are overly excited, overly depressed, and just generally overly emotional. I think many of them just didn’t know how to process what they were going through.

We had a good youth meeting Sunday night just talking about what happened and just letting them sort through the experience. I spent some time talking about how we respond to tragedies in life. We have two choices, we can either retreat and get bitter and scared, or we can use it as motivation to grow stronger in our faith and learn to share our faith.

We are going to the dare2share conference next month in Charlotte. That organization was formed out of the tragedy in Columbine. They have shown how we can refocus a bad experience into an opportunity to share Christ. The truth is that we all will face some type of crisis in our life. Whether it is the death of someone we love, an accident, or just an unexpected tragedy, we will all face things that will shake us to the core. How we respond to those situations shows our character and our faith. Jennifer shared with the youth about how she lost her best friend in a car accident during high school. Jennifer was almost 16, and Beth was 18. She was thrown out of the jeep she was riding in and killed. Jennifer talked about the flood of emotions that she experienced. But she also talked about how she grew through the process of grieving. Jennifer could have gotten mad at God and turned her back on Christ, but she would have missed the joy of following Him and missed the incredible influence she has had on numerous teen girls over the years.

It all comes down to trust. When we go through a crisis, do we trust God with the situation and with our future, or do we try to handle it on our own. I was encouraged by the number of students who led their classes in prayer. How will they continue to respond to it? Will they become scared? Or will they become motivated?

Here is the article from our local paper, the Galax Gazette

Police tactical teams searched Galax High School room-by-room Friday morning after a student reported seeing a suspicious person in the gym.Students were locked into classrooms for more than two hours while officers scoured the school for the unknown man and nervous parents congregated by the dozens outside.


I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 28 years, and we have three adult children.

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