Columbine High School student Craig Nason said it took a few days for him to get the big picture of what happened the day 12 students and a teacher died in the school at the hand of two students.
Nason's friend Cassie Bernall was shot to death, and it wasn't until some time had passed that Nason realized that God was talking to him through the horror he had survived.``God was talking to me,' Nason said Sunday evening at Northwest Guilford High School. He said, 'There's work for me to do. I want you to be a part of it.''
And as part of that work, Nason, 17, came to Greensboro Saturday, to take part in the Hank Williams Youth and Family Crusade that runs through Wednesday at the local high school.
Sunday evening, Nason told the crowd of about 1,500 people gathered in the high school football stadium that he wanted to make the terror he and his friends felt on the morning of April 20 real for students in Greensboro. And he wanted to tell the group about his friend, Bernall, who was shot after one of the killers asked her the question, ``Do you believe in God?'
Nason was in choir class that day, fifth period, when the screams broke out. Someone burst into the classroom and warned the students that someone was headed their way carrying a gun.
``Then, we just started hearing shots and shots and shots,' Nason said Sunday night.
``It was right there before me,' he said. ``These guys were coming up the stairs and I had to ask myself, 'Am I ready to die?''
The shots came closer, each one sounding like the boom of a cannon, Nason said. He dropped to the floor with a friend, and the two began to pray. Big tough guys he'd been going to school with for years, who never showed an emotion, burst into tears.
``They didn't know what to do,' Nason said. ``They didn't have anything inside.
``Everybody was crying out to God, but they were crying out in different ways.'
Nason and the some 60 other students in the room remained trapped in the small office for three hours that day. Ministers from Nason's church were outside the building, waiting for word of the 40 or so students from Columbine who were members of the church's youth group.
The last two to be accounted for were Nason and Cassie Bernall.
Nason told the group about Bernall.
He met her a couple of years ago, he said, when she joined the youth group at his church. Before she joined the group, he said, Bernall had been ``into the darker side of life.' Her parents, who found disturbing notes she had written in her room, cut her off from her old friends. They forced her to attend meetings of the church youth group.
From the first day she came, Nason said, ``You could tell she didn't want to be there.'
But somewhere along the line, he said, something changed in his friend. ``She was like a light,' he said. ``You could tell, she'd come to Christ.'
The two became friends in the youth group, and last year, when Bernall started at Columbine, the few even shared a few classes. They'd talk about their troubles and concerns - the same as any teenagers', Nason said. And they talked about turning over their troubles to God.
``We've got to trust that God will take us where we want to go,' Nason said he told her.
And, Nason said, he's certain Bernall had that trust.
Bernall didn't survive the shooting at Columbine.
Nason had seen her that morning. They had discussed their regular Tuesday Bible study group. Bernall had been ``pumped' about the meeting, Nason said. ``She was so bright,' he said. It wasn't about intelligence that day, he said, ``she just had a light about her.'
Bernall was in the library, studying ``Macbeth' through lunch, when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered, guns blazing. A teacher was shot, another student, and the two approached Bernall.
``They asked her the question,' Nason said. ``Do you believe in God?
``I don't need to tell you what her answer was.'
``My friend Cassie's dead,' Nason told the crowd. ``But the reality is that she's not dead.'
The crowd burst into applause and shouts of ``Amen!'
For days after the shooting, Nason said, he wondered why he survived the massacre. Why his friend died, and not him. God spoke to him in those few days, Nason said. God had a plan for Cassie. And when the ``big picture sunk in,' he said, Nason knew what he had to do.
``The Father wants me to tell you about her,' he said. ``She wasn't some angel, some perfect person.
``What made her extraordinary was that she had faith.'