A Tribute to My Little Town….#HesstonStrong

When I was a senior in high school, I went through the process of applying to college. As the youngest of 3 who all went to the same college, along with my parents and other relatives, the idea was definitely there to attend the same place. It would be in my hometown, so I’d be able to visit home easily when I wanted to. Every year the seniors of the high school I attended, would visit this same local college to gauge whether or not it was a right fit for any one.

As visiting day arrived and I walked about the beautiful campus I had a thought: this was the wrong fit.

Then one day a cheerful recruiter from a 2-year Mennonite college in Kansas showed up at our school. I had a chance to meet with him and ask questions about the school; Hesston College.

One of my deepest concerns was safety. Not knowing I had an anxiety disorder yet, but  aware of my overwhelming need to feel safe, this was an important aspect of any school I’d choose.

Being as Hesston College was located among wheat fields in a very small farming community, very low crime rate, small classes and a Christ-centered environment, I deemed it the perfect fit. I applied and was accepted soon after my campus visit.

I spent two of the best years of my life at Hesston College. I met amazing friends, wonderful professors and grew spiritually and academically. Hesston College was the first place where I caught the writing bug. It was the first place where I pulled an all-nighter (wait, I forgot I did that once in high school). It was the first place I lived, away from my parents, where I still felt safe and protected. Even walking alone at night on the main street of town I felt safe.

I recommend Hesston College to anyone looking for an awesome introduction to the wonderful world of college.

This past Thursday, a gunman with a grudge opened fire 3 blocks away from my beloved alma-mater; at a factory specializing in the manufacturing of lawn mowers. The gunman killed 3 and injured 15 others before being shot and killed by law enforcement.

In the blink of an eye, my little town didn’t feel so safe anymore.

But after the tragedy, an extraordinary thing happened. Instead of taking to the streets to protest for tougher gun-control as is seen in other cities after similar events, the fine folks in Hesston gathered in places of worship to reflect and remember the lives lost; including the shooter. Let me re-state that:

The person who perpetrated such a violent act on a friendly town has not been characterized as a violent thug. He’s been looked on with sympathy and his family has been prayed for and embraced. A broken soul who in some twisted logic believed that the only way to get what he wanted was with a gun. Hesston is also mourning his loss with the sadness that comes with knowing that there was a person amongst them that needed help and yet he seemed out of reach.

Maybe my little college town, not used to national/international news exposure, can breathe new life in the discussions that always follows these tragic events. To live out Christ’s call to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

To be a light in a dark, broken world.

PS: If you’d like to make a tax deductible donation and purchase a T-shirt to help the victims families, click here