FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Citizens are demanding legislative gun reform after last week's school massacre in Parkland, Florida. From social media battles to marching to state capitol buildings, it is clear that narratives are shifting towards practical implementation.
But some communities have taken a different approach. A quick analysis of the suspects in most school shootings reveals a common demographic among the perpetrators: They were outcasts, victims of bullying and marginalization.
While there is a conversation to be had about legislation, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale is pursuing a proactive measure by reaching out to those who may become violent.
Calvary's youth pastor, Javan Shashaty, gathered his student leaders for guidance on how to ensure no students are marginalized.
"This Sunday, we met with a group of around 25 students who are leaders in our ministry. Our conversation was centered around loving the unloved. At most mega-church youth events, there are always a few students that slip through the cracks."
When asked how his students were responding to the shooting, Shashaty was optimistic.
"Most of our students have responded to the shooting with a desire to do something," he said. "It has been cool to see them exemplify 1 Corinthians 12:26: 'When one member suffers, all members suffer with it.' "
Suspects Eric Harris and Dyland Klehold of Columbine; Seung-Hui Cho of Virginia Tech; and Nikolas Cruz of Stoneman Douglas High School; and other pantomimes of their crimes were all deprived of social inclusion. With this common denominator at hand, Shashaty hopes to prevent these tragedies by ensuring nobody feels the hatred necessary to perform them.
"There are certain people in our lives that are easy to love. But that's not the only crowd Jesus surrounded Himself with. Jesus actually left those crowds to seek out the outcasts of society: the beggars, the lepers, the sinners. Jesus left the 99 to go after the 1. That's how I pray our students respond," he said.
Shashaty told CBN News that his plan to help navigate the conversations within his youth group was simple.
"Preach the Word of God," he said. "I believe that no legislation, no movement, no mere human act can cure what is a clearly a spiritual issue. It is clear in Scripture that when God is present and His Word is taken seriously, the people flourish. But when man is elevated and sin is celebrated, the people perish."
"Jesus at the center – of our country, of our schools, and of our lives. That always has been and always will be the solution," Shashaty concluded.
Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale is among the state's largest churches, which also hosts a large Christian school, Calvary Christian Academy.
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