Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sisters of faith remembered:With tears and hope, family and friends celebrate lives of two slain at church

COLORADO SPRINGS-Those who knew Stephanie and Rachel Works want the world to know they have a new address: heaven.Friends say that if the two sisters are behaving there as they did on Earth, they've already made many new friends. Stephanie is writing short stories, being a mother hen to the young ones and playing chess.Rachel is dancing, choreographing routines and likely wearing two dresses, one on top of the other, and somehow making it look great."Can you imagine the reception they got last Sunday? Boy, what a party that must have been," said New Life Church pastor Brady Boyd to 3,000 people who gathered for a memorial service Wednesday to celebrate their lives. The girls, who were home-schooled and did missionary work through the church, traveling to China, Mexico and Brazil, were killed Dec. 9 as they got inside the family van after a service at New Life.Matthew Murray, 24, opened fire with an assault rifle after killing two people earlier that day at a Youth With a Mission facility in Arvada.The girls were buried Wednesday morning at Monument Cemetery in a private service. At New Life, mourners rose to their feet when the girls' father, David Works, seated in a wheelchair, led a procession with his wife, Marie Works, of family and friends into the church. Works was shot twice in the torso and was released Tuesday from Penrose Hospital.The crowd hushed when he addressed them during service."Thank you for coming to celebrate the lives of Rachel and Stephanie," he said.Works, who will do an exclusive interview scheduled to air Friday with ABC's "Good Morning America," thanked God, the New Life Church family, his employer, First Data Corp., Penrose Hospital staff, first responders to the shooting, and his sister and brother before he read a prayer.
Favorite Bible verses read
His two surviving daughters, Laurie Works, 16-Rachel's twin-and Grace, 10, also read their sisters' favorite Bible verses.Laurie Works told the congregation that her twin sister wrote a note quoting Philippians, verses 6 and 7. The passage was also the last entry in Rachel's journal.
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. This peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus," Laurie said, reciting the verse.Connie Schertel, a friend of Stephanie's since they were children living in Montana, said she loved to talk to her dear friend on the phone."I loved to laugh and giggle with her. We giggled even when things weren't funny," Schertel said.She said Stephanie was intelligent, talented and had a passion for short stories.
"I loved her dearly," she said. "I shall never forget her."Aimee Donahue, a friend of Rachel's, said she cried nonstop for 13 hours when she heard of her friend's death."I think what hurts the most is that all I can think about are things she'll never get to do, but I can do. Why did I live and she died?" Donahue asked. "I thought about the places she said she wanted to go, all the things that she wanted to do. We both wanted to work with teenagers, especially in New Zealand because they have the highest teen suicide rate in the world."Donahue said she cannot erase the images of how the girls died from her psyche."I try and think about all the good times we had. But all I can seem to think about is how their lives ended. So many people have told me she's in a better place, but I guess I'm a little selfish because I wanted her here with me," Donahue said."You were good parents"At the end of the service, Boyd, the pastor, turned to the Works parents."You were good parents, David and Marie, I want you to know that. You're a good mom and dad; you did a good job. You did your work well," Boyd said.And then, the preacher turned to those who had come to mourn and left them with one final thought: "Live life on purpose. Every day matters. Every hour matters. Every relationship matters. Every friendship matters. That's what I'm hearing from Rachel and Stephanie."

As in the days of Noah....

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