It appears that every time God wants to get my attention, he uses a youth or a child. It happened last Sunday. I walked into one of our classrooms, needing to hear a message. The youth started talking. I tried my best to listen.
Our discussion centered on Rachael's Challenge, the presentation they had attended at Elkins High School. Rachael was the first of many killed on that horrible day at Columbine High. She, like the others, was a wonderful young person filled with energy, vision and love.
After her tragic death, Rachael's parents and siblings read her writings and studied her artwork. Inspired by Rachael's values, they established Rachael's Challenge to perpetuate her memory and bring good out of a horrendous tragedy.
Since I did not experience Rachael's Challenge, I spent Monday searching the web. Among my findings are the following quotes:
"I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same."
"I don't have to say anything, they just see you (Jesus) in me."
"I want you (Jesus) to use me to reach the unreached."
Rachael's values were rather profound and wonderfully simple. She preferred to proclaim her faith by actions rather than words. If it sounds saintly, it is. St. Francis once told his disciples, "Preach always. If you really have to, use words."
I found some very powerful examples of Rachael acting in a Christ-like way. One involves a young man in the Columbine cafeteria. He was so bullied by his classmates that he contemplated suicide. Rachael's intercessions prevented the act. Rachael also helped another student, new to the community or school, build friendship with other students.
Every presentation of Rachael's Challenge features a discussion on heroes. It was discovered that the two who committed the atrocious acts had chosen a very poor hero. Our students were challenged to select a worthy hero.
In our discussion, the youth inspired me to consider my heroes. As a youth I looked up to Willie Mays. I remember watching him play at the old Crosley Field in Cincinnati, Ohio. It did not matter that "The Say Hey Kid" never got on base; I was thrilled to see him on the field.
As long as I can remember my uncle Lloyd has been my hero. He was a storyteller, baseball fan and a courageous Appalachian. Most of all he taught me to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds.
Today, I am counting Rachael Scott as a hero. I admire her ability to preach without words, her commitment to Christ and her determination to treat all people respectfully.
Rachael's Challenge is correct. We need honorable heroes that we can emulate. I can't think of a person more honorable than Rachael. So let's live the way she lived.
Let's speak kindly to the weary checkout clerk at the big box. I wonder how many complaining people daily pass through her checkout. Let's give a friendly hello to the young man at the fast food drive through. He is not rude. He is trying his best to tend to two customers at the same time. Let's affirm the good in the one who refuses to speak. Perhaps she is more troubled than we realize. Let's continue the chain reaction started by Rachael Scott.
(Editor's note: The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author's church affiliation.)