Taber: grieving father prays for end of violence

By Lisa Loewen, Crystal Penner and Eric Unrau
Garden Valley collegiate
Winkler, Manitoba

Students at Garden Valley Collegiate gathered in the school gymnasium for a very rare occasion on November 23 -- to hear Reverend Dale Lang from Taber, Alberta speak about his son, Jason, who was gunned down in a hallway of his school on April 28, 1999.

Lang told the students said that the shooting would not have happened, if the people would have believed in and accepted Christ. He said if he was not a Christian, he would have wanted to kill somebody after this accident, but because of the Lord, he would not do it. Lang said that he felt Jason's spirit with him throughout the service and that all the people should worship together. Lang said he felt a lot of healing that day.

For the public memorial service, Lang decided that he was going to go to the site where Jason had been shot and pray. He said he trusts that during the memorial service at W.R. Myers High School, God will do something special.

"God has given us a bit of a vision that what he wants to do is to start here at Myers High School and make a drastic change in the attitudes of our young people," Lang commented. He said he believes that if God could change the people at Myers, then he can do it anywhere.

Lang is fulfilling this vision by speaking at schools around the country. His message at GVC included details on the shooting, the shock of losing his son, and the means by which he was able to forgive the boy who shot his son. He related his message to society and how we need to respect and care for each other.

Irene Schmidt, a guidance counselor at GVC, spoke of the impact of Lang's message on students.

"I hope GVC will become a kinder place and will be more aware of other people," she said.

The idea of asking Lang to speak to the students originated from the Peer Helpers group in the school in a response to the "White Ribbon Campaign", a project aimed at ending violence. The group wanted GVC students to be more aware of violence and to have more respect for each other. As a result of those discussions, Lang's name came up.

Speaking about his son's death helps Lang in his time of grieving. Lang sais he was angry the day he found out what had happened to his son, but God turned that anger to sorrow. The Lang's now have no anger towards the boy who shot Jason, towards his family, or towards God.

Jason's sister, who is seven years old, is coping with the loss and mentions her memories of him. His brother Matt is fifteen and plays his drums and guitars to get rid of his anger. Older sons Mark and Jeff Lang were both living away from home at the time of the shooting. Jeff is married, but Mark has moved back home for a while to be with his family. Lang says both sons have "re-dedicated their lives to Jesus" since Jason's death.