Bruce Porter awoke with a start at almost 2 a.m. Gasping for air, Porter shook the bedroom with his guttural cries. His heart pounded. Sweat dripped from his body.
"Honey, what's wrong?" his wife, Claudia, asked.
"They were killing--no, slaughtering--young people!" blurted Porter, pastor of Celebration Christian Fellowship in Littleton, Colo. "Some of the kids were killing themselves! It was so horrible! So real!"
The date was Jan. 20, 1999. Exactly 90 days later, Porter's nighttime vision unfolded at Columbine High School. Fourteen students and one teacher perished April 20 in a hail of bombs and bullets. Twenty-three others fell wounded, two of them paralyzed.
Nothing, including the recent million-dollar renovations to the high school, will erase the horrific memories unleashed by Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17.
But amid the cloud of grief that lingers over this Denver suburb, Christian students returned to school with a prophetic burning in their hearts. A wave of post-Columbine salvations has generated an excitement that they expect will sweep more souls into God's kingdom.
This hopeful expectation, in fact, was part of Porter's vision, too. After seeing carnage, he saw young people, once filled with terror, stand up with steely-eyed looks of determination. The charismatic pastor believes he witnessed the fulfillment of this image at Columbine victim Rachel Scott's funeral, which he helped lead as her mother and stepfather's pastor.
There, he challenged students to take up the torch of Christ that Scott, the granddaughter of two Pentecostal pastors, had carried. Hundreds leaped to their feet and lifted their arms in response, a reaction that led to two "Torch Grab" rallies held last summer.
The rallies were designed to equip students with knowledge of their legal rights, as well as effective ways to witness and other spiritual tools. Similar gatherings sprang up nationwide in the wake of the tragedy.
Salvations were a common occurrence at them all--starting with several hundred at the victims' funerals. About 75 responded to Christ in May at a meeting sponsored by the student-driven group Revival Generation. A church in Delaware reported that 150 accepted Christ at a memorial service. In San Francisco, more than 1,000 indicated a desire to know Jesus as Savior during the "Pray for the Bay" rally in mid-June.
Other events stemming from the tragedy are expected to have an impact:
* In June, several members of Living Way Fellowship's youth group spoke in Olympia, Washington, on the lessons of Littleton. The audience took an offering as seed money for the church's new "U Turn" community center. The student-led effort will soon offer videos, food and recreation, as well as spiritually based small-group discussions.
"They were the shots heard 'round the world," says the pastor, who also edits a Christian newspaper. "I liken this to the American revolution. I've had kids coming to Christ ever since the [televised] funerals."
"We really feel youth revival is coming, and that's what we're preparing for," says Ken Henderson of the youth ministry Soldiers for Jesus.
A Slumbering Giant Awakens
Leaders across the country say a sleeping giant has awakened. Speaking in June at the Southern Baptist annual convention, Rachel Scott's father, Darrell, predicted a coming revolution.
Likewise, Porter thinks "revival" is too tame a word. He sees a new "reformation" engulfing America to ensure that those lost in last April's carnage didn't die in vain. And he sees youth spearheading this seismic spiritual shift.
Generation Xers and other young people are looking for something worth dying for, he says.
"There's an incredible opening for the gospel," says Josh Weidmann, president of Revival Generation, which started three years ago with one prayer group at Arapahoe High School near Denver. The organization now numbers more than 150 prayer groups across the metropolitan area.