Spring 2004/Final Issue




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When unexplainable tragedy happens, it is essential to have something that is bigger than human comprehension."




























"You will always have the scars, yet scars are not a bad thing. They tell the story of someone who has gone through battles and made it, some who has fought and conquered and someone who ran into the arms of a loving God."



April 20, 1999, a time when a school became a battle zone. Columbine High School was invaded by two student gunmen who stormed into the school, killing eleven students, one teacher and then turned the guns on themselves. The library, the place where most of the killing took place, was where I was at that day.

During the shooting, I remained hidden under a library table as the gunmen paraded across the library, shooting and killing everyone in sight. My section was the deadliest section of the library where everyone surrounding my table was killed. At one point, the gunmen came over to my table and saw me crouched underneath. For reasons that remain unknown, they passed over me and left the library. As I saw them leave through the cracks of my table, a feeling of relief swept all over me--I was alive. Although the tragedy was over and I was able to get out safely, four years later, I still bare the scars from the war zone.

Recently, a team known as Torch Grab Ministries and I were in Germany ministering in Erfurt, the location where a student killed 18 people as well as himself. We also went to another German town, Stuttgart, and spoke in several of the schools, encouraging teenagers against violence and inviting them to a Christian youth rally that was to be held that weekend. In one of the schools, after I had spoke, loud pops began sounding off in the distance. The sounds made my head spin, as I kept scanning the room, being taken back to April 20th. It seemed as though time stopped as I was wondering if this would be another horrible tragedy to go through.

Other people started picking up on the noise and also began scanning the room. Overwhelmed, I ran to the bathroom. Tears began crawling off my cheeks, "God, Iím so scared, Iím so scared." My mind flooded with flashbacks as a familiar face entered the bathroom. Nancy, one of our hosts, stood with a concerned look, "I heard the noises. Are you all right? Iíll go and check what they are." I waited in the restroom until she came back, "Itís only firecrackers." Again, relief swept all over me.

Four years after the tragedy and Iím still affected by it. Although I have never received counseling, panic attacks are a norm for me. I have had to overcome many fears as I continued to relive the moments of that solitaire day. Because of the terror I was exposed to that day, I may never be the same.

My mind is marked with the scars of having my innocence shattered. Although this could be an excuse to remain hidden and not move on with my life, I have chosen to do the opposite. I have had the opportunity to go around the world and speak, sharing my story to thousands of people. Through this, I have been involved in seeing several lives being changed. April 20th, the most horrible experience I have faced, was able to be turned into something good. The scars I carried from what I witnessed, were the scars that spoke to many.

When unexplainable tragedy happens, it is essential to have something that is bigger than human comprehension. I believe that something is God. God has a way of turning tragedy around. Jesus Christ died but through His death, life is available. Through tragedies occurring in my own life, God has been able to turn them around and allow good things to come out of them.

Maybe you are sitting here reading, you havenít witnessed a school shooting, but you could offer a list of tragedies in your life-parents getting divorced, abuse, death or the effects of sex or drugs in your life. Whatever it may be, you have a choice. You can continue to live in the past, reliving the tragedy, or you can allow God to take it and use it. God is able, if you let him, to wrap His arms around you, to pull you close and wipe away your tears. All you have to do is run to Him. After the shooting happened, no one understood how I felt. No one could see the depths of my fear, except for God. He was able to be there for me like no one else could--He wants to be there for you. You will always have the scars, yet scars are not a bad thing. They tell the story of someone who has gone through battles and made it, some who has fought and conquered and someone who ran into the arms of a loving God.















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ē Purchase Heidi's book "Silence Shattered"

 

 

 
Heidi Cortez is a survivor of the Columbine High School Shooting of 1999. She was in the library when the shooting took place and witnessed several fellow classmates lose their lives. After the Columbine shooting, Heidi has traveled across the nation sharing her testimony of how God brought her out of the horrific events of Columbine. Her travels include: speaking with majority senate leader Trent Lott, providing solace in Germany after a school shooting, speaking in school assemblies across the world and sharing at the one year anniversary candle light vigil.

She has done interviews with Newsweek, Dateline, The Chicago Tribune and The Denver Post. She wrote a book, relaying her experiences with Columbine, entitled Silence Shattered.

Heidi currently works at Trinity Christian Center, the sight of four of the Columbine funerals, as the Assimilation Manager. Heidi currently lives in Littleton with her husband, Leo.


   


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