Dave McCain: Chief Petty Officer, US Navy – 18 years; Marine Gas Turbine Inspector.
Sherry McCain: Full time mom; Homeschools their children; parents of Joel, Lauren, Christian, Abby.
CBN.com Lauren Ashley McCain asked her mom about accepting Jesus when she was three-years-old. Just after giving her heart to Him she promptly threw up. From that moment on Lauren had a passionate love for Jesus that shaped her young life.
When the students at Virginia Tech headed out to class on the morning of April 16, 2007, no one could have predicted what lay ahead; that a disturbed student, Seung-Hui Cho, would methodically kill 32 of his classmates before turning the gun on himself.
The McCains have forgiven Cho. His family suffered, too. Dave says his parents also lost a son. Lauren’s oldest brother Joel paved the way for Lauren at VT and with Campus Crusade for Christ.
At freshmen orientation, when asked what mark she wanted to leave upon her campus and the world, Lauren exclaimed, “I want everyone to know I love Jesus!”
Her death accomplished this – especially through her MySpace page. Through it all, her parents say of their feisty daughter that, “God has given her an awesome testimony. Lauren always ran to God, and God gave her good Christian friends."
They also say that the Lord has surrounded them with blessing upon blessing throughout this. “We felt the presence of the Lord everywhere we turned,” they say.
Though she never expected this in a million years, Sherry says for years she had a fear that she would lose one of her children early. She talked to God about it, but chose not to let herself dwell on this fear.
“Now I’ve realized my greatest fear, and God is still very good.”
There are many wonderful things God has done, including allowing her to share one-on-one with many people. Sherry says they realized that God had numbered Lauren’s days according to the Scriptures, and that Lauren had accomplished those days.
“She could have died in a car wreck,” Sherry says, “but God allowed her to die this way.” As much as they miss her, Lauren has gained. She didn’t lose anything.
The McCains say the physical and emotional demands have been hard, and they’ve had to deal with being extremely tired, but looking back they see God’s hands at work in their lives. Their oldest son Joel is in Japan on an Exchange Teacher Program, and Dave applied for orders to Japan. He prayed about it and felt this was where they were supposed to go.
“But God closed the door – slammed it shut,” Dave says. He questioned it, but Sherry felt this was right. He realizes now that had they been reassigned to Japan they would have had to deal with all this from overseas.
When Lauren died, Dave’s Command called the Detailer to change his orders – he was headed for the Gulf. It turns out that he had served with the Detailer 10 years ago on the USS Gettysburg and he canceled Dave’s orders to leave. The Detailer also knew Lauren.
In making funeral plans they had no cemetery arrangements in Oklahoma, their home state, but God had impressed it upon a childhood friend of Sherry’s sister to start looking for cemeteries for family reasons. At Lauren’s death she had pictures of cemeteries to send that they could choose from. The McCains were the last family to be notified by the coroner. They held out hope that they wouldn’t get this call, but when they didn’t hear from their responsible daughter they knew something was very wrong. They’d checked with area hospitals but none had her as a patient. Being the last family notified gave them time to process that Lauren was gone. The news was not a total shock.
“We had over 24 hours to slowly process this,” Dave says, of the fact that they were not notified until after President Bush’s speech.
Some families were notified as soon as they arrived and were overcome with the shock and grief. The Lord surrounded them with wonderful friends and support.
“We had to do nothing by ourselves. They were there to walk us through everything,” Dave says.
Their pastor, Leonard Riley, and Rob Hall, a friend at Restoration Church in Hampton, VA, departed for Blacksburg soon after the McCains did and was there for them. The Parkes, friends from Lynchburg came and supported them, and several of Lauren’s close Virginia Tech friends also came and stayed with them until Lauren was identified. The church held all-night prayer vigils. Tim Porter, a Pastor from North Carolina, was in Blacksburg that day and God had him walk with the McCains, providing them a place to stay.
HER LIFE SONG
The book wasn’t supposed to be about Lauren, Sherry says. But when Beth Lueders called to say the Lord told her to write this book, they wanted to honor God in whatever way they could. They prayed about it. In the end for them the story is about God. The Lord will redeem this tragedy and allow many people to know Him. Dave says they realize that many of the students killed were Christian, and “Lauren had a loud testimony.” This he speaks about their exuberant soccer-playing daughter who dyed a pink stripe in her hair before taking off for college. It’s the Lord’s book, they say. Lauren was an anchoring figure in it.
Psalm 37 was Lauren’s life song (“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed on his faithfulness...”) Lauren’s love for the Lord is reflected in pages from her journal included in the book, Lifting Our Eyes. Upon further reflection Sherry says God chooses. She says God got up with Lauren and walked with her to the classroom. She knows that God was with Lauren that day, and that “He decided not to leave her here with us.”
They miss her, but know she is with Jesus. Lauren’s strongest desire was to tell the world about her love for Christ, and God used the testimony she put on her MySpace to fulfilled that heart’s desire. She wrote, “The purpose and love of my life is Jesus Christ. I don't have to argue religion, philosophy, or historical evidence because I KNOW Him. He is just as real, if not more so, as my 'earthly' father.“
Sherry says, “Even in her death He is fulfilling the desires of her heart. He is an awesome God.”
Prior to Lauren’s death Sherry says she didn’t think about heaven much. It’s hard for the temporal mind to deal with this. But since then God has put people in her path to minister to. She now knows the reality of heaven more and knows they will see Lauren again one day.
Sherry also encourages parents that they can do all the right things and some will be blessed for their children to accept Christ early; other children may accept Christ later. Some children will walk away from Christ for a while. Parents shouldn’t feel guilt about this because ultimately each child has to make a decision for the Lord. Our God is faithful though, and listens to the prayers of a parent. Never stop praying.
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.