BLACKSBURG, Va. The words of Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve at the institute adjacent to Virginia Tech University were a blessing for LDS students who only days earlier experienced the horror of mass murder on their campus, according to institute director Coy Bowman.
Elder Bednar told the young adults that as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints they understood and had access to the true source of healing. He suggested that they "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15). Elder Bednar further stated, "If you strive to become instruments in the hands of the Lord to heal others, then you yourselves will be healed."
Elder Bednar visited the institute on Saturday morning, April 21. Just five days earlier, LDS students were among the 26,000 at Virginia Tech who had to deal with 32 of their classmates and professors being murdered by a single gunman in the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.
Brother Bowman, in a Church News telephone interview, said it was a bittersweet experience to go from Monday's terror to being spiritually fed by an apostle on Saturday. Elder Bednar was in the area, having been previously assigned to attend that weekend's conference of the Pembroke Virginia Stake, which encompasses Blacksburg.
Along with the resumption of classes at Virginia Tech on Monday, April 23, institute classes began again, Brother Bowman said.
Though classes were canceled the previous week, the institute served as a place of gathering for those who needed it. Brother Bowman said a testimony meeting was held at the institute the day after the killings. The meeting, under the direction of Blacksburg University (Student Single) Ward Bishop Brent R. Lambert, preceded a candlelight vigil on campus.
"It was nice to hear some of the responses" of the students who bore testimony, Brother Bowman said.
Speaking of the LDS students, he said, "In the face of tragedy, Heavenly Father has been very close to them."
In the face of something you can't plan for and hope to never have to go through again, healing service has come from generous members of the Church from all over the world, he added. Along with comforting letters, such things as food and inspirational music CDs, have poured in. Greg Hill