Daily Devotional for Wednesday April 25, 2007

A Look at the Virginia Tech Shooter

(John 7:7, 8:41; Galatians 5:19-21; Psalms 71:4)

In the aftermath of the horrible nightmare that took place on the Virginia Tech campus Monday, April 16, today I wanted to specifically look at the person who was responsible for taking the lives of 32 innocent people, seriously injuring dozens more, before killing himself. Much has been written about 23-year-old Korean immigrant Cho Seung-Hui in trying to understand why he committed the heinous act he did. Today, I want to look at Cho, his life, and his actions on that fateful day in the context of God's Word.

Cho's family legally immigrated to the United States in 1992 when he was 8 years old. Theirs is a familiar story of hard working parents who sacrificed much to come to this country to give their children the best education and life possible. They worked long hours in their suburban Washington DC dry cleaning business. Cho's' older sister is a Princeton grad who currently works for the United States Department of State. So Cho was given all of the opportunities any child could ask for to succeed in life. However, beginning at a very early age it was clear that something was wrong with him. Even as a small boy he was very quiet, reserved, and rarely talked to anyone, including his own family.

Hindsight as they say is 20/20. It has now been easy to go back and see all the "red flags" thrown up by Cho over the years. His two incidents of "harassing" female students at the time were no doubt looked at as simply a case of one-sided attraction, very common. His brief exposure to the mental health professionals who made the determination Cho was not bad enough to be committed, but given medication and seen on an outpatient basis. His various incidents with his "creative writing" being so dark and violent. *The fact is if Cho was in Hollywood writing what he did, he would be making millions of dollars and winning Oscars! I find it sad that the same dark things Cho wrote, are no different than the screenplays of the most popular movies of our day!

While collectively all of these incidents now make it clear Cho had some very legitimate mental health issues, the thread that runs throughout his short life from his early childhood in Korea to the moment he took his own life after massacring 32 innocent people, was his silence. My unanswered question in all of this is how does a child live with his family and not communicate with them? Surely his parents had to know there was something wrong with their son. Where were his high school teachers? How can you graduate high school and never talk to anyone? Where were all of his college professors? How did he get to be a senior in college without talking to anyone? Where were the young men he lived with? How can you live in the same suite with a person who refuses to communicate with anyone?

Listen, I fully understand everyone is wired differently. Some people are shy, introverted. No matter how shy or reserved a person is, it is simply not normal to not communicate with other people! He obviously had a fairly high degree of intelligence to be able to get through high school and almost complete college without speaking to anyone. If you heard any of the tapes he sent to NBC news, it is clear that he knew how to speak English. He was an English major in college!

I am sure that many in his life over the years attributed his non-communication to being from a foreign country. My wife is Korean and I can tell you from personal experience over 25 years with Koreans that while some who are not fluent or confident in speaking English, will still communicate with others from Korea in their native language. The sad answer is that from his family, to his teachers, to those he went to school with, the bottom line is nobody cared enough about Cho to pursue the fact he didn't talk to anyone. THAT WAS NOT AN ISOLATED RED FLAG, BUT A LIFETIME PROBLEM NOBODY CARED ENOUGH TO ADDRESS!

So it was in this silent world Cho chose to live, that his sick mind began to look at life and this world in a very dark way. A large percentage of Koreans who immigrate to the United States are Christians, with the Korean church playing a huge role in the social life of most Koreans. It is clear from his ramblings that Cho was exposed to the Christian faith, though like many young adults today, it is also clear he chose to reject God's love and Truth in his life. The word evil has been used to describe Cho, and no doubt his actions were pure evil, just like the actions of anyone who is living and acting in rebellion to God. Evil is the byproduct of men who choose to rebel against God.

Was Cho himself evil or was it just his actions that were evil? Both! Again, whenever we act in rebellion to God and His Word we are responsible for contributing to the evil that exists in this world. When you give your life over to sin and reject Jesus Christ you literally become an instrument of evil in the hands of satan. Hitler was an evil man. So was Stalin and Pol Pot. Abortion doctors (who by the way kill as many people in a week as Cho did) are evil. Any person who has rejected Christ's love, made the choice to live in rebellion to God and His Truth is an evil person!

There is only one way to combat evil and that is WITH GOOD! Good will always win out and we know from the end of the book that God wins and Jesus will rule and reign for all eternity! That is the promise those who have put their faith and trust in the Lord have to look forward to. That is also why those who know the Lord should be doing everything they can with each day God gives them to bring as many to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as possible. EVIL CAN BE TRANSFORMED INTO GOOD!

I think back on my life when I was running from God and living in rebellion to His Word. I was committing evil acts most every day! It took surrendering my life to the Lord to transform my life from a life of evil acts to a life of God-honoring acts. Saul was a man who persecuted the early church and was responsible for killing Christians! Saul was an evil man! However, on that road to Damascus one day he met Jesus and his life was gloriously transformed. He went from being an evil man committing evil acts, to a Godly man committing acts of goodness!


I love you and care about you so much. Cho rejected Jesus and was an evil man who committed evil acts. Sadly, nobody, including his own family, loved him enough to get him the help he obviously needed throughout his entire life. We live in a world today filled with people who don't care about or love other people, only themselves. We are shocked and horrified by incidents of pure unadulterated evil like the one that took place on the Virginia Tech campus. We shouldn't be. We live in a world full of men who have rejected Christ's love, live in rebellion to God and His Truth, so it should not be a surprise at the gross evil that exists in this world.

Incidents like Cho's get the news headlines and the attention, but the fact is every day all over the world men are committing acts of evil. None of us are immune from the evil that exists in this fallen world, it is simply part of this brief journey we are on in this sin-soaked world we are passing through. That is why it is incumbent on every follower of Christ to do their part to combat the evil that exits in this world with goodness. Sadly, when we choose to rebel against God, we are contributing to the evil that already exists. That is why we need to follow Him closely each day and give our lives afresh to the Lord each morning so that we can be vessels of God's goodness and love.

That is also why the most important thing we can do is to bring Christ's love to the lost and hurting in this world. Again, the answer to evil is goodness. That goodness only comes when a person's life has been transformed through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Now more than ever we need to be about the business of reaching the lost with the hope of Christ and help them come to know Christ's love. In the midst of all the gross evil around us each day, the goodness of God still shines through. In the end, evil will be defeated and the goodness of God will prevail. Those like Cho who choose to follow satan and used as instruments of evil will be damned for all eternity while those who choose to follow Jesus will be used as instruments of righteousness and enjoy the promise of everlasting life with God their Creator!