Jennifer, Allison & Juliana

Frustrated2 TSP 119531667Every year thousands of American students attend school in fear. Sometimes their worst nightmares come true.



Jennifer’s Story

I’m scared. I’m lonely. I can’t feel a thing. It was supposed to be a normal day, but it ended a few hours later with me in tears as my parents picked me up from school. Reliving that day gives me chills. I can’t handle the memories. It could happen again—anywhere, at any time, to anyone. I can’t walk into school and pretend that nothing happened. The banners, the cards, and the repainted cafeteria are heartless reminders of the horror of that day. Perhaps that’s not exactly true; these reminders also show that people care about us and love us. Although bad things can and do happen, it helps me to remember that God promises never to leave or forsake us.

On February 27, 2012, there was a shooting at my school, Chardon High School. Three students were killed; two were wounded and yet survived. This tragedy has opened my eyes and has changed my life forever. I continue to live in fear, but I try to remember that God is with me—always.

—Jennifer Bushnell, 15


Allison’s Story

Fear2 TS 137273655After the shooting at Chardon High School, I was in shock. A couple of weeks passed before it settled in that this was real. I was afraid to go to Spanish class, which is where I was when the shooting happened. I was afraid to wear the outfit I had worn that day. On St. Patrick’s Day, my neighbors had a party. I was in bed when I heard a popping noise. My sister ran into my bedroom; and we hid under my bed, crying, holding each other, and praying that the shooting would stop. Later, we discovered that the noise was fireworks exploding. A week after that, I was face-painting at a church festival, and the popping of balloons at the animal balloon station made me jump. I had difficulty holding back tears as I painted the children’s faces. A month later, I started having flashbacks. Every night, I lay in bed, tossing and turning and crying because the events of that day came flooding back whenever I closed my eyes. Although filled with fear, I knew that God was with me. Even today, I face my fear by reminding myself that God is with me, that God will cover me in love like a blanket, help me to fall asleep on those sleepless nights, and comfort me during those balloon-popping, firework-exploding moments. God is there for you too, especially in your times of greatest need. We can rely on God to be our healer and our comforter.

—Allison Kofol, 16


Juliana’s Story

When the Virginia Tech campus shooting took place six years ago, I was working at a church in Virginia. The pastor rushed into the office and asked how many of our students attended that college. Thankfully, none of our students were wounded or killed; but a few from our community were. The next night, our pastor held a service to pray for the families who had lost a loved one and to allow people to grieve in a supportive, loving environment.

Tears2 TSP 101081000This service taught me the importance of praying together through grief and pain. Communal prayer provides a healthy way to contemplate why crazy things happen, even if we don’t necessarily understand. It is frightening to think that any of us could be caught up in a horrific tragedy, but I have chosen not to dwell on this fear. Knowing that I am held in God’s hands allows me to live unafraid in this world, a place where bad things can happen for no apparent reason. God is with me at all times, and I choose to trust in God and to concentrate on the good this world has to offer.

—Juliana Jones



Sometimes when tragedy strikes, there are no answers. As people of faith, we can trust God to be with us—and we can pray alone and together for comfort, for hope, and for the faith to keep trusting God. Pray for the families and friends of the victims of violence. Take comfort in God’s promise to be with us always in every circumstance: Psalm 118:6, Isaiah 41:10, and Hebrews 13:5b–6.

—from devozine (March/April 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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