How to Respond to Parkland?
By David Schmus | CEAI Executive Director
Like many of you, I have been shaken by what happened in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday. Three faculty members died in the horrific attack—at least two of them while sacrificially protecting their students. Coach Aaron Feis died using his body as a shield to protect his students. Social Science teacher Scott Beigel died outside a classroom locking the door, saving the students inside. We don’t know yet how wrestling coach and Athletic Director Chris Hixon died, but we know he served in Iraq, and was loved by his wrestlers especially.
While we grieve for all victims and pray for their families, we take comfort that these educators lived out Jesus’ high calling that “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). We honor them today. I am sure that other stories of heroism will emerge out of this tragedy.
Honestly, I have also been shaken by the seeming endless cycle of these horrific shootings. It feels as if the national patience for typical responses to these events has run out. Lord, please, make them stop!
As Christian educators, many of us in the public schools, we are in a uniquely frustrating position. We know that the answer to this crisis is ultimately spiritual, and yet those answers are typically excluded from the public square. Like almost all perpetrators of mass shootings I have read about, the alleged shooter in this case described demonic “voices” in his head instructing him how to carry out the shooting.
While there are important mental health issues that we as a society must address, we will never fully address this crisis without a spiritual solution. When I grew up, spiritual warfare was placed in the context of “stuff that happens on the mission field.” However, spiritual warfare is here, and it is having devastating consequences in our schools, and not just from mass shootings. As Christian educators, we need to be equipped for spiritual battle.
So how can we carry out spiritual warfare on our campuses? Prayer is a key weapon. Could you partner with a church, parents, or other educators to prayer walk your campus regularly? If no one will join you, will you do it by yourself? I often tell the story of a principal who prayer walked his campus alone every morning except for one—which turned out to be the day the only fight happened all that semester.
Will you gather with other educators to pray at lunch, or before or after school? Will you seek to partner with churches and campus ministries, using your position as an educator to make it easier for them to be on campus? There are many schools that still don’t have Good News Clubs or Christian clubs.
I know you are busy, but the stakes are high. Our society seems of the verge of exploring other measures to address this crisis that may limit our freedoms and not really solve the issue. The church needs to wake up. We are the church in our schools. Let’s get to work. Let’s pray.
P.S. I know many of you are already doing this. I’d love to hear your story below. Also, please share prayers for our schools and nation in the comments as well.
Christian Educators Association International