Dear Mike - My mom showed me how you asked at the end of your article on the
Bernalls for me to write a few words since I met Chris B. on my TeenMania
mission this past summer.  First, one of the things about Chris B. is that he
is not into the "fame" of the tragedy.  He tries to look for the good, to be
an example because of what he's been through.  His whole testimony is because
of his sister, after her death he realized all her faith and wanted to be
like her.  Starting high school for him was kinda rough.  And being a
skater/snowboarder/punk it was easy to fall into the wrong crowd.  He has
such an ability to reach out to people.  While on my mission trip, our main
form of evangelism was a drama we performed from site to site.  I believe
that its more than coincidence that Chris had the role of the Savior in our
play.  One man actually asked to see "the Jesus" (say that with a Spanish
accent) who was in the play.  Chris got to pray with that man to get saved.
He is like the kind of person that people are drawn to.  But at the same time
he is totally humble.  He has had to go through many traumas bringing back
the reality of that day at Columbine.  Yet through it all, he above all,
chooses love.  I want to tell about the story that he told me about the
beginning of the school year, this August.  He started at a Christian private
school and was sitting outside at a picnic table with a group of sophomores
who had accepted him as "in" their group.  He was hanging out with them.
They were discussing the theme for homecoming.  Out of the blue, some boy
made a comment, something like: "Hey man, let's all wear trenchcoats..."
thinking this was funny.  I don't know if he even knew who Chris was.  But
immediately, Chris was both infuriated and sickened.  He told me that he
wanted so bad to just hit the kid.  He said to me: "Even if you were joking
that's just not right."  And then Chris told me that he stopped and thought
about a verse in the Bible about forgiveness, about forgiving someone because
they don't know the extent of what they have just done. He then turned and
walked away.  Now he is homeschooled because of all the hardships of high
school life.  The over-all picture of Chris is someone who looks past his own
suffering to serve others.  I am very grateful that I had the chance to meet
and become so close to him.  About a month after Columbine, I was thinking
about how Colorado is so far away and how I didn't feel connected at all to
what had happened.  I didn't even want to watch the News anymore.  Then one
day, I meet this kid who is right in the middle of what happened across the
country from me.  And then, it wasn't so far away.  I know I will never be
the same.  Each day, at school, I try to live it to the fullest, trying to
show Jesus as best I can.  But the main lesson is forgiveness.  Chris is just
a regular kid.  Cassie was the same.  I don't look at my friendship with the
Bernalls as a way of like, "bragging," or like wanting to "post" their story.
 It shows me what a small world it is, and that deep down we're really not
all that far away.  And, that Jesus isn't this huge far off thing that
doesn't want to have anything to do with our lives, especially teenagers.
This summer I saw teenagers ready to change the world.  I just hope that
somehow I am changing my little corner for the best.  The end.

Katie Coogan