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Published on 18 February, 2008

Christians focus on university following a shooting in U.S.

USA (MNN) — Students are stunned at Northern Illinois University just outside of Chicago after a gunman opened fire on a class, killing students and then turning the gun on himself. Last week's tragedy has left many wondering about their safety and about eternity. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is reaching out to these students through their campus ministry program.

Casey Beckley is on staff at InterVarsity and serves Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Beckley says many students came to a realization. "About 25,000 students all at the same time thought about and realized that they were going to die at some point. And that changes the climate, especially the spiritual climate of the campus, in one fell swoop."

While the whole campus is being affected, Beckley believes those closest to the shooting could be most impacted. "Students that were in the room and weren't shot, or that were and weren't fatally wounded, or even the students who skipped class and are thinking about 'what was keeping me from that?' And, 'What am I supposed to do with the rest of my life now?'"

Because of those many questions, InterVarsity is organizing some activities that will help students. "We'll have kind of a prayer and listening station in a residence hall about 50 yards away from where the shootings occurred. We actually had a three-part series planned already that was asking the question, 'Who is God?'"

The majority of the students commute. Beckley says since many of them are at home, dealing with grief may take time. Beckley says they need prayer for: "Sensitivity for the InterVarsity staff and students to be able to understand how they'll be able to walk along side people, particularly if they're still grieving weeks and months from now because they've been kind of avoiding it by continuing to leave campus."

Beckley also asks pray for "those students would be able to look up from their own hurt and anxiety right now and be able to look at the fear and anxiety of the people around them, and be able to bring Christ into those situations."

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