Posted on Sep 15, 2009 | by Erin Roach
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--David and Tralissa Griffin, whose 14-year-old daughter Cassie was one of the seven people killed by a gunman at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, haven't let the tragedy deter them from working with the church's youth ministry.
In written comments to Baptist Press near the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy, the Griffins noted that they have "always had a heart for youth" and worked with youth even at other churches before they were married and before they joined Wedgwood.
"Although our daughter was 14 when killed, we have not been discouraged, but strengthened all the more to continue to work with young people," they wrote. "We also enjoyed watching our son Chris, who is three years younger than Cassie, as he grew in the youth group. We felt very strongly, after the shooting, that we were not going to let Satan drive us out of our home church and have continued in ministry there."
As they work with the students in their Sunday School class, one of their main goals is to build relationships both at church and outside church.
"This is the best way to demonstrate God's love for us and His desire to have a personal relationship with us," the couple said. "Because of our experience, we try to remain transparent with the youth that we teach through both good times and bad times. We want them to realize that God does not promise an easy life, but having a strong personal relationship with God will prepare us to walk with Him through the trials."
And as they minister to teenagers, their daughter's memory inspires them.
"She had a boldness that caused her to talk with her friends openly about God and invite them to church," the Griffins said.
Cassie started collecting frogs in elementary school, and after the family moved to Fort Worth she happened to notice a poster in a Christian bookstore that said "FROG: Fully Rely On God."
"She was elated to see that her passion for collecting frogs could have a special meaning," they said. "Since her death, many of her close friends and others began giving us little 'frog' gifts, so we are constantly reminded that to make it through life during the trials of this world we must fully rely on God for strength, peace and direction."
Though a decade of life has passed without Cassie, the Griffins are aware that some questions will have to remain unanswered.
"Why did this happen? We will never know why this tragic event happened in our church. We choose not to dwell on the unanswered questions," they wrote. "God was present in each of our lives, and we each built a strong relationship with Him. So when this catastrophe rocked our physical world, we individually sought God for spiritual healing and growth."
At a juncture like a 10th anniversary, the Griffins want people to realize anew that God was at Wedgwood the night of the shooting and that He is still present today.
"He has not forsaken any of those who were injured or died, and He has not forsaken any of those who remain. We miss Cassie terribly, but we do not grieve with bitter sadness as one who has no hope," they wrote. "We know that we will be reunited with Cassie in the presence of almighty God, and we can find joy in that."
And on this anniversary, there are some characteristics about Cassie that her parents hope people will remember.
"Cassie was fun-loving and enjoyed making others laugh. She was a typical, ornery, busy, caring, strong willed and silly teenager," the Griffins wrote. "She had numerous friends of all ages and seemed to be the social worker of her group who tried to solve all their problems.
"In our minds, she will always be 14 years old. It is difficult to realize that she would probably be graduated from college and possibly married, as some of her friends have reached these milestones."
The Griffins expressed gratitude for the people who have prayed for their family as they've dealt with Cassie's death.
"God continues to bless us each and every day, even as we continue to endure trials," they said.
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.
For complete Baptist Press coverage of the 10th anniversary of the Wedgwood shootings, go to http://bpnews.net/BPCollectionNews.asp?ID=158