As the news out of Blacksburg continued to unfold this week, we saw good and evil starkly juxtaposed against one another — evil through the troubled mind and unspeakable acts of Cho Seung-Hui, good in the heroism of the likes of Liviu Lebrescu, who gave his life to save his students.
The associate pastor at our church is acquainted with one of the only two survivors from one of the classrooms that Cho attacked. In our church’s e-newsletter this week, he shared some details about the VA Tech massacre that, to my knowledge, have not been made public by the national media.
Life is full of redemptive analogies — events or stories that help us to better apprehend the mysteries of God’s nature, character, or activity. The story my pastor related is one such analogy; while sobering, it gives us a bit of a glimpse into the grace God extends to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Here is the story of Gil, VA Tech engineering student and survivor of Monday’s horrific violence, as related by my pastor. I offer it here without comment, as there is nothing I could say that would add to its poignance or impact:
“Saved By The Blood”
This past Sunday in a ministry time during the service, I shared that it is hard for me to imagine sacrificing one of my daughter’s lives for another. At best, I might be willing to offer my life for someone else. Yet, God allowed Christ to suffer horribly to save me.
In less than 24 hours, a young man that I grew to know well many years ago in Harrisonburg found himself in a classroom at Virginia Tech, facing death square in the face. Gil was in a graduate engineering class with 13 other students and a professor when a gunman entered his class and with a semi-automatic 9mm pistol began shooting students on the front row. The gunman moved from left to right and Gil sat on the last chair in the front row, on the shooter’s right. Gil dove for the floor, at the side wall of the room, by a radiator. He felt the student next to him dive for cover in the same way landing on top of him. Not fully covering Gil, but “scissored” across his body.
Gil felt a bullet strike the guy on top of him. Then he felt some searing pain in his neck. The bullet had grazed Gil’s back and lodged next to the mastoid bone just behind and below his left ear. The shooter left the room and they heard shoots being fired nearby. Gil could only think about his wife and son in those moments. He strategized with a few others in the class that the best plan was to lay still and “play dead.”
The shooter was right outside the door. The Indonesian student that lay on top of Gil was bleeding and laid completely still. No talking, nothing was heard from him. Just when he thought the terror was over, the shooter returned to the room. He fired at the bodies that lay all around the room. Gil recounted that at one point, the shooter was standing right beside where he was lying underneath the other student. He felt the impact of 3-4 more bullets fired into the body above him, but none of them seemed to hit Gil.
The shooter left and shot more outside. Then silence. No more shooting.
Gil remained in position for a time and gradually the police arrived. Another student had somehow escaped the room. Only Gil and another were able to walk out of the room. The shooter had shot himself before the police could engage him. Gil was hospitalized and released late Tuesday morning. As Gil began telling his story, he has realized that being covered in another student’s blood may have led the shooter to believe that Gil was already dead.
There is a father of an Indonesian son who grieves today the seemingly needless loss of his son’s life. Maybe one day soon, he will hear how his son’s blood saved another student.
aka The MonT-SteR