After two of the 14 sixth-grade students at Roseland Christian School died violent deaths this school year, local pastors were invited by principal Jim Van Zyl to pray at the Chicago school at the beginning of 2011.
“We just want to bring some peace to this place,” said Van Zyl, a member of Crossroads Community Christian Reformed Church in Schererville, Ind. “Right now you get this feeling of unsettlement among the kids. You can see a difference in attitude.”
Student Michael Pierce was accidentally shot and killed on September 12. Joi Cochran was stabbed to death, along with her older sister and mother, on November 29. The two students’ photographs hang on a wall near the school entrance.
Revs. Calvin Aardsma, Marjorie Kooy, Heino Blaauw, and Kris Vos joined Van Zyl and other Roseland staff for prayer on January 13.
During a prayer walk, the group paused to pray at various locations throughout the school, including the sixth grade classroom. They asked for God’s healing and blessing for the students and administration.
Roseland Christian School was founded by members of the Christian Reformed Church in 1884. Van Zyl said the school represents stability in a community that is struggling.
“Prayers are huge, but so is showing up here,” said Kris Vos, senior pastor at Crossroads Community CRC. “I have never been in this school. It has just a huge impact on my heart being here, to look in the classrooms, to walk the hallways. I think seeing the need in this community firsthand is important.”