I was getting a sermon together to prepare our young people for the start of school. I thought about using an illustration of a young man who stopped the student gunman years ago in Kentucky. The idea was that we are not expecting our kids to be heroes at school in the spiritual sense, but we do want them to make it through the experience walking with Christ.
I decided I better do some googooling to refresh my memory with names and details. His name was Ben Strong. I found an article describing the details I remember that touched on Ben Strong’s church and the prayers he received the night before Michael Carneal began his shooting spree, killing 3 girls and wounding others, as they finished a prayer time they held before school started. I remember preaching about Ben’s heroics in taking the gun from Michael while in Seattle in 1997.
Time has not been friendly to the original story as reported in this New York Times article. The parents of the murdered girls brought civil suits against the media, the school and even Ben Strong (he was given a message from Michael the night before to be watching for something big to happen). The details that came out in court showed us that Michael had stopped shooting and had dropped the gun when Ben came up and grabbed him. The principal showed up at the same time and by the time the media circus was through Ben Strong was a hero.
In retrospect the article acknowledged that Ben was struggling with the details of the event in the national interviews that followed. In one interview after the court appearances his answers were said to be terse (good word to look up). I can imagine the unsettled feeling that followed Ben from speaking engagement to speaking engagement knowing that the story was not quite as good as it was believed to be. It would be interesting to hear his thoughts about the matter now some 10 years later.
I liked the heroic Ben then and I like the Ben who has had to struggle through these issues keeping his relationship with Jesus in tact even better.
Actually, these new facts will make the sermon that much better for our young people and we older saints who sometimes expect them to conquer the anti-christ when we send them off to school. I just want them to maintain their walk with Jesus, knowing that God will open up doors for them to be real heroes in the eyes of God.