Columbine High School witness Crystal Miller relived the 1999 shootings and shared lessons learned Friday night at Lincolnâ€™s Oak Grove Baptist Church.
Her message, which she has shared with many audiences since that tragedy, is that life doesnâ€™t mean anything without Christ.
â€œOne needs to be real, be yourself, and take a stand for your beliefs, and no matter what, keep living,â€ she said. â€œTragedy doesnâ€™t have to beat us.â€
Crystal said she believes the students didnâ€™t die in vain. One strong image that remains with her is the refusal of one student to denounce God as one of the killers took aim at her head.
â€œGod is my only stronghold, a mighty counselor, the best decision of my lifeâ€ she said.
Her story begins with a video of news clips and shocked mourners.
She recalled in detail how that day started on April 20.
Her dad didnâ€™t wake her up as always, instead, he left early. She showered, and her mind ran through the “what ifsâ€ of a 16-year-oldâ€™s school day. She was late to school again. En-route she could only think of her psychology test that afternoon, which she had not studied for.
The first two periods passed as normal, but while walking in the hallway, she saw a sign posted that read â€œYou wish you werenâ€™t here today.â€ Around 11:10, she decided to skip lunch and study. She joined classmates Seth and Sarah Houy in the library. They noticed the library was not full of students as usual, and unpacked their bags.
Seth looks out the window and sees kids running. He assumes they were just going to lunch until a teacher bursts into the library and warns: â€œthere are guys with guns and bombs.â€
Is this a prank? The warning seems to fall on deaf ears until a student named Brian rushes in and falls to the floor, a bullet in his arm. Somewhat grasping the severity of the situation, everyone ducks under the table.
Crystal thinks to herself â€œnothing bad happens hereâ€ as she prays for help and protection. Now others from the cafeteria run into library, as Coach Dave Sanders courageously direct students to safety.
But Sanders suddenly falls to gunfire. His efforts will never be forgotten by Crystal.
â€œHe is my hero, he got kids to safety, he loved the students dearly,â€ Crystal said.
The two gun-wielding students, Dylan and Eric, enter the library and yell for everyone to stand up. Seth pulls Crystal to his chest, â€œI will take a bullet for youâ€ he whispered.
At that moment her life changes. In the past, Crystal often spoke of being a party girl, drinking, trying to be popular. Suddenly, her life had a new direction.
Her next thought â€”if I live, I will rededicate my life to Christ.
Dylan and Eric check the room for more victims. They encounter Cassie Bernall and ask â€œdo you believe in God?â€ She says â€œyes.â€ When they ask her why, she looks up, just as a bullet ends her life.
Smoke from pipe bombs fill the hallways, as the emergency lights and strobe lights flash.
Crystal is shaken; the killers walk closer, pushing chairs into tables.
Crystalâ€™s life flashed before her and she realized she is unable to tell her family she loves them. â€œIâ€™m 16 years old. Iâ€™m not expected to die,â€ she thought to herself.
Crystal takes her gum out of her mouth; she didnâ€™t want to choke on it when the bullets came her way. Just then, they kill a boy at the next table. But something fateful happens after that. They run out of bullets and leave the room.
Sarah and Crystal stay put, believing it safer to stay in the library, while Seth runs out. He returns later and joins Crystal and Sarah as they dash out of the library in a run for their lives.
Crystal sees the bodies of her friends, and could do nothing. She runs in the rain, slips down a hill, and scrambles behind a cop car where the injured students lay. A news-crew appears in Crystalâ€™s face, asking whatâ€™s happening. She replies, â€œtheyâ€™re shooting people.â€ Then, not knowing where to go next, she walks into a field where she joins Sarah and Craig. Craigâ€™s sister, Rachel Scott, was the first to die, killed in the same manner as Cassie. A student named Matt took a bullet for Craig by lying on top of him when the shooting began.
It was a day to remember. At that moment they all pray.
To learn more about Crystal Miller go to her web site, www.c-miller.com.by Laura Leedy