13 Years And 13 Tears Later – Remembering Columbine’s Rachel Scott
Series: On This Day in Christian History – April 20th, 1999
By Mike and Sharon Rusten*
Rachel Scott was just eight when her father, Pastor Darrell Scott, walked out on her mother, Beth, leaving her with five children. A year later Rachel’s grandparents helped her mom move to Littleton, Colorado, and buy a home.
When Rachel was twelve, she had a life-changing spiritual encounter. She later wrote in her journal, “Everyone was there at the altar, and I felt so drawn to it. You have to understand that I was so young…to be drawn that way, it was nothing short of God…That night I accepted Jesus into my heart. I was saved.” From that time on her family saw a spiritual depth beginning to develop in Rachel.
Two years later Rachel’s mother remarried. During this difficult adjustment Rachel became increasingly withdrawn and private. When she was sixteen, her mother gave her a journal, the first of many. Rachel began to chronicle her spiritual journey and commitment to Christ—a commitment that cost her deeply. She broke up with the boy she loved in order to keep herself chaste and later was rejected by five of her closest friends for talking openly about her faith. On April 20, 1998, one year to the day before she died, she wrote these words: “I have no personal friends at school. But you know what…it’s all worth it to me…If I have to sacrifice everything I will.” Rachel had no idea of the sacrifice she would ultimately make (Rachel’s last school picture on left).
On April 20, 1999, Rachel sat outside the cafeteria when two troubled students armed with guns came up the stairs at Columbine High School. They opened fire, hitting three times. After leaving to find more victims, they returned to where Rachel lay crying in pain. One of them lifted her head by her ponytail and jeered, “Do you believe in God?” She answered, “Yes.” He put the gun to her temple and killed her.
About a month after Rachel’s funeral, her father received a phone call from a stranger who told about a dream he had. As Darrell recalled it, “He dreamed about her eyes and a flow of tears that were watering something that he couldn’t quite see in the dream. He was adamant about the eyes and tears and wanted to know if that meant anything to me…He told me that the dream had haunted him for days, and he knew there was a reason for it.”
Her father had no idea what the dream could mean. Several days later he picked up Rachel’s backpack from the sheriff’s office. Inside were two journals, one with a bullet hole through it. He turned to the last page of her most recent diary and was dumbfounded to see a drawing of her eyes with a stream of thirteen tears watering a rose. The tears appeared to turn into drops of blood as they touched the rose. The number of tears matched the number of victims at Columbine. It practically took his breath away to see in Rachel’s final diary exactly what the stranger had described to him a week earlier.
Looking in previous diaries, her parents discovered that same rose drawn a year before Rachel’s death. The earlier drawing simply showed the rose with the blood like drops, not her eyes or the clear tears, and it showed the rose growing up out of a columbine plant, the state flower from which Columbine High School got its name (Rachel’s drawing on the right).
Rachel’s diaries reveal the heart of a young woman who loved her Lord. When the time came to put her faith on the line, she was prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice.
Are you willing to put your faith on the line and speak out boldly of your Savior? If we follow Rachel’s example of committing ourselves completely to Christ, we too will be willing to sacrifice all if called upon to do so.
“If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it.
But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.” – Luke 9:24
Remember that Jesus willingly died on the cross for your sins:
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” – 1 John 4:10
“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:17
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 John 2:2
“He himself bore our sins on his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” – 1 Peter 3:18
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved…For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-11
Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the April 20th entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.
For More About Rachel Scott: If you would like to know the whole story about Rachel see Darrell Scott and Beth Nimmo. Rachel’s Tears: The Spiritual Journey of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott. Nashville: Nelson, 2009, 10th Anniversary edition.
For More About Columbine’s Cultural & Spiritual Ramifications: see Wendy Murray Zoba. Day of Reckoning: Columbine and the Search for America’s Soul. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.
*Other Significant Events on April 20th in Church History:
1500: Pedro Cabral took possession of Brazil for Portugal with religious ceremonies this Easter Monday.
1558: Johannes Bugenhagen, a coworker of Martin Luther’s, professor at Wittenburg and key reformer, died on this day. He helped Luther translate the Bible into German and did another translation into Low German.
1884: Leo XIII issued the encyclical Humanum Genus against the Masoni order.
1946: The Lutheran bishops’ conference of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany issued a protest to the Communist government against ongoing persecution.
1999: At a Colorado school, several children were killed by classmates in an incident known as the Columbine shooting. Among those killed was Rachel Scott, a Christian girl who answered “yes” when asked point-blank if she believed in God (see article above).
*Adapted from This Day In Christian History, edited by A Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves, Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications.