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The Making of a Modern Martyr

B. K. Taylor

By most accounts, Cassie was an average teenager from middle America. Yet fate held a bitter-sweet hand for her, one that would make her a modern day martyr.

Life is molded by destiny, an unforeseen path drawn by the seemingly simple choices we make every day. Cassie's life was not a planned sequence, carefully orchestrated like a finely rehearsed symphony. At least it seemed this way to the casual observer and especially to the news media who briefly made some remarks about her short life in a most unremarkable way.

Some unseen force shaped Cassie's life and used it like a paper napkin, crushed and discarded after it had fulfilled its purpose. Did God somehow use Cassie as pawn in some ethereal chess game? This explanation seems unjustifiably cruel, but we mortals often have difficulty understanding the mind of God and his relationship to this world. In this case, one must step back and examine Cassie's life to understand her death.

Cassie should have been another faceless teen in her town of 39,643 inhabitants. However, her parents had become increasingly worried about the direction of her life. Like so many misguided youth, Cassie had begun experimenting with drugs and even witchcraft. She had even contemplated suicide. Because she had rebuffed the efforts of her parents to help her, they with their pastor's guidance pulled Cassie out of public school. They enrolled her in a private, Christian school and sent her to a church summer camp.

At camp, a remarkable transformation occurred to Cassie. She cast aside her former life and became a Christian. Her formally solemn expression was replaced with a new confidence and a smile that radiated her new love. Another seemingly inconsequentially twist led Cassie to go back to public school, where she could do more good by sharing Jesus with her former classmates. She carried her Bible wherever she went. She led group prayers and led some students to Christianity. Cassie wanted to make a difference in her school. In the end she did, but her tragic death promulgated her faith story across this earth like tendrils of a wildfire burning out of control.

Cassie was a student at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. On that fateful day, Cassie and her friends cowered beneath a library table. They quietly prayed as carnage swept across Columbine. The assailant found Cassie beneath the table and asked her, "Do you believe in God?" Cassie, unflinching, answered, "Yes." For her faith, she died.

Since that day, rallies have been held across the nation. People have filled auditoriums and stadiums to worship God and to honor Cassie Burnall. Clearly, she was not a pawn in some game. Instead, she was a soldier in God's army, fighting the moral decay that has increased in recent years. A beacon for each of us when we wonder about our life's purpose.

Since that day, President Clinton, VP Gore, many in Congress, and the herd-like media have tried to convince America that Columbine means we need more laws and more gun control. I don't think God would agree.


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