a miracle inside the aurora theater shooting

Shooting Victim Petra Anderson

(Updates follow article)

Four years ago today, I posted a blog about my emergency room “miracle experience” after the Aurora Theater shooting. The post went viral, and created some controversy. Does God really do miracles? Why for one person and not another? Does a good God even exist?

I don’t claim to have all the answers. But I saw the miracle with my own eyes. Thank you to those who have asked me to repost this story for a reminder: God is still at work.

July 23, 2012

At Columbine High School, I have seen this before. But not up close.  As a church pastor in Denver, I have worked as a chaplain alongside several police and fire departments. I was privileged to counsel parents just hours after the Columbine shootings. However, in this new tragedy at the Aurora Theater Dark Night shooting, one of the victims was a 22-year-old woman from my church, Petra Anderson (pronounced Pay-tra). Petra went to the movies with two young friends who are biking across America.  You and I have been inundated with news about what happened next. A joyful movie turned into bloody, unbelievable chaos. Petra was hit four times with a shot-gun blast, three shots into her arm and one bullet which entered her brain. This a bit of Petra’s miracle story.

With awesome people from our caring and pastoral team, I spent all day Friday in the ICU with Petra and her family. Her injuries were severe, and her condition was critical. A bullet had entered Petra’s face through her nose, and then traveled up through her brain until stopping at the back of her skull. The doctors prior to surgery were concerned, because so much of the brain had been traversed by the bullet. Many areas of brain function were involved. They were hoping to keep her alive long enough to get her into surgery. The prognosis was uncertain—if she lived, Petra might struggle with speech, movement, and thinking due to considerable brain damage. With Kim, Petra’s mother (who is in the final stages of terminal cancer), we simply cried, hugged, and prayed.

It is pressed into my memory now. Motion and emotion…

Other families come and go into the ICU waiting room. Some sit with us, and we talk. Others are visited by doctors with “Family Advocates” in tow. The families listen, sob, and then are moved like stunned cattle to a more private space to grieve. We pray. Petra is finally taken into surgery, using two different surgical teams. One team of neurosurgeons will open up the back of her skull to remove the bullet and clean up brain damage as best they can. Another ENT-specialty surgical team will then work through Petra’s nose by scope to follow the bullet’s path up into her brain.  Their hope is to remove bone fragments, clean up damaged brain tissue, and reseal her brain to reduce infection.

If you have lived any of your days in a hospital waiting room, you know how long the enduring process is. It has a woeful pattern to it. Sit. Walk. Grab a drink. Sit. Walk. Answer a phone call. Sit. Walk. Hug someone. Sit. Talk to the FBI. Sit. Pick at the food. Sit. Walk. Go down the hall, but not too far because you’re afraid to miss something. Back. Hug. Pray. Sit. Sit. A picture of a five-year old waiting for next Christmas from January 1st comes to my mind. FOREVER. Only this feels worse: a heavy forever, with no promise of presents, Santa, or good news at the end.

Petra Anderson and her world-class violin.

After the waiting drags for over five hours, tired doctors and nurses spill back into the room, one or two at a time. I look for “Family Advocates” but can find none. I exhale. The doctors update us: “It went well, and she’s recovering now. We found very little damage to the brain, and got the bullet out cleanly. It went better than we hoped for.” Each brings a warrior’s smile, and a bit of information—information that we turn into hope as we regurgitate it over the next hours.  Still, the medical team remains professional and reserved, “Something might still go wrong. We just need to wait and see if she makes it for the next 48 hours.”

Tears and thank you’s abound. We are so thankful for these men and women. We hug. Everyone hugs. Then, round two. Sit. Wait. Pray. Fully dressed people cuddle into small snails and try to sleep on the floor. Some are shuttled to a room donated by the Holiday Inn across the street. Thank you, Lord, for every little thing. We sit. We pray. “We’ll understand better tomorrow.”

Petra is moved back to ICU. She looks, surprisingly, wonderful. With a small hole in her nose, and her arm wrapped, she almost looks uninjured. She is medicated and sleeping when I come to visit her on Saturday. I sit, talk, and pray quietly with Kim amid the darkened room, lit by glowing medical screens and power switches. Nurses, like quiet soldiers posted on guard, come in, march attentively through the machines, and go out.  These men and women really care. Finally, one of the surgeons comes in to check on Petra. He has had some sleep, and looks more like a movie star this time. As Petra sleeps, he retells the story of the surgery, and we ask questions.  The doctor reads the perfect script, as if he is on Hallmark Hall of Fame. He fills us in on the miracle. Honestly, he doesn’t call it that, he just uses words like “happily” and “wonderfully” and “in a very fortunate way” and “luckily” and “we were really surprised by that.”  Kim and I know a miracle when we see it.

It seems as if the bullet traveled through Petra’s brain without hitting any significant brain areas. The doctor explains that Petra’s brain has a small “fluid pocket” in it. In our non-medical minds, it is a tiny route of fluid running through her skull, like a tiny vein through marble, winding from front to rear.  Only a CAT scan would catch it, and Petra would have never noticed it. It seems many people have these places in their brains, in random places.

But what is significant is that in Petra’s case, the shotgun buck shot, maybe even the size used for deer hunting, enters her brain from the exact point of this channel. The bullet is channeled  from Petra’s nose through her brain. It turns slightly, and comes to rest at the rear of her brain. And in the process, the bullet misses all the vital areas of the brain. All of them. In many ways, it almost misses the brain itself, doing very little damage.  Not exactly, but like a giant BB though a straw created in Petra’s brain before she was born, it follows the perfect route. The bullet moves in the least harmful way. A millimeter in any direction and the brain is destroyed. Speech is lost. Eyesight gone. Or Peytra gives in to her injuries and dies. Evil wins a round. (Medical update at the end, below)

As he shares, the doctor seems taken aback. It is an odd thing to have a surgeon show a bit of wonder. Professionally, these guys own the universe, it seems, and take everything in stride. He is obviously gifted as a surgeon, and is kind in his manner. “It couldn’t have gone better. If it were my daughter,” he says quietly, glancing around to see if any of his colleagues might be watching him, “I’d be ecstatic. I’d be dancing a jig.” He smiles. I can’t keep my smile back, or the tears of joy. In Christianity we call it prevenient grace: God working ahead of time for a particular event in the future. It’s just like the God I follow to plan the route of a bullet through a brain long before Batman ever rises. Twenty-two years before.

While we’re talking, Petra awakes. She opens her eyes, and sits up, “Mom.” Movie-star doctor spins to grab her, to protect her from falling. The nurse assures him she’s been doing this for a while. He talks to her, and she talks back. He asks questions, and Petra has the right answers. “Where do you hurt, Petra?” “All over.” Amazed, but professional, he smiles and leaves the set shaking his head. I am so thankful for this man.

Petra is groggy and beat up, but she is herself. Honestly, I look worse before my morning coffee. “I’m thirsty,” she proclaims.

“You want an ice cube, honey?” Kim replies.

“Please.”  Wow. She lays down, back to sleep, a living miracle who doesn’t even know it yet. Good flowering out of the refuse pile of a truly dark night. “Thank you, Jesus,” I whisper.Petra, you are amazing. Kim, you, too, are amazing. I am so proud of you both. But God, you are in a league of your own. (Duh.)

Petra and her mom, Kym, a few years earlier

Medical update. The neurosurgeons involved have reviewed post-surgery MRI brain scans and clarified Petra’s injury to the family. The channel was not a “defect,” as we originally understood it to be. As the family understands it now, it is more of a fluid-filled pocket which starts right where the bullet entered Petra’s brain.  Everyone has these channels, it seems, in random places. According to her doctors, the miracle is not that Petra’s brain was different than others, or deformed. The miracle is that the bullet hit Petra exactly where this fluid pocket occurred in her brain, and then traveled a journey through her brain missing all the vital areas. With the family’s permission, one of Petra’s doctors, Dr. Michael Rauzzino, was interviewed for NBC News today:

“If the pellet had wavered a millimeter, really in any direction from what it actually took, then she would have likely either died or been severely injured. I would say this is definitely a miracle…It would be hard to create a path similar to this where it goes all the way from the front to the back and misses every single blood vessel, doesn’t bother any of the major structures, and leaves her able to talk and move everything and not be paralyzed or dead. Never in my entire career have I seen a case where a bullet has traversed the entire brain like this and not caused severe damage or death.”

For the full story by Amanda Leitsinger, you can go to “Shotgun pellet’s ‘miracle’ path spared Aurora victim’s life” at  NBCNews.com.

With each new day, the learning continues for us. As we find out more, we will continue these updates.

Author’s Update:  Kym’s body died of her cancer in in the fall of 2012. Throughout Petra’s ordeal, Kim was the kind of loving parent we all desire to have and to be. To the end, she prayed for and protected her family, and held on to her faith. We believe she is sharing the miracle story around a banquet table in heaven right now.

Petra, after a few months of rehab, recovered completely.  She married her boyfriend, Austin, who was at her side through the ordeal in 2012. They both are now full-time music teachers, sharing with others the life and music they count as a gift.

Petra and Austin at their wedding
Petra and Austin at their wedding.


  1. Thank you for sharing this story. So amazing. Best wishes for Petra’s continued recovery and strength, clarity and courage as Kim continues her battle with cancer.

  2. Brad, thank you so much for writing this. My best friend is good friends with Kim and contacted me so that our church could be praying for Petra. When I read this story, I was compelled to share it with our church staff (and all my Facebook friends). It is a powerful reminder of Psalm 139:13 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” Thank you for sharing. We are all praying for Petra and Kim, as well as all of the other families affected by this event.

  3. How amazing is our God! I’m speechless. Hoping for follow-ups on Petra. We will be praying for her and her family.

    Also, loved your blog. I Clicked “Follow”. =)

  4. Amazing …thanks for sharing this. All I can say is PRAISE GOD! When God designed Petra HE knew this was going to happen and He made her this way so that one day she could make this part of her testimony to the power and awe-ness of God!!! I know of Petra through my nephew Joe Laughon who use to do speech and debate with her. Thanks again for sharing !! God Bless you. I will continue to pray for Petra and Kim. And share this story with my church.

    • Thanks so much. Your do prayers make a difference, and make God’s heart glad, I think.

  5. I have tears at this very moment, I am so happy for this family and amazed at what Our Savior has done in this woman’s life!!

      • Pastor, THANK YOU!! Thank you for being there with these ladies,and being the pastor that they need. OMGoodness, what an awesome story, Bro. Strait,I thank you so much for sharing. She is indeed a miracle from our GOD IN HEAVEN. We just have to keep praying for her recovery as well as the rest of the injured. Most of all we have to pray for the one’s that have lost a loved one or a friend through this senseless act.May God have mercy on his soul. The BIBLE says PRAY FOR OUR ENEMY, and I would guess right now he is probably Colorado’s #1 enemy. Thank GOD for the knowledge of those Doctor’s and their staff’s has they went inside Petra’s head and carefully removed the bullet without damaging anything.GOD BE WITH YOU AS YOU CONTINUE YOUR WORK FOR HIM.

  6. WOW, wow!!! God is amazing and you beautifully wrote this for us to read about His perfect handiwork in creating Petra. May the Lord use this story to reveal Himself to all who read it, encourage those who already know Him and open the eyes of the blind. Thank you for being an instrument in His hands.

  7. God bless you for sharing this, and for your faithfulness to be there for the families.

  8. Petra is a very lucky person and I’m very happy that she will make a wonderful recovery and that her family won’t have to suffer any more hardships. That said, why is this random chance being called a miracle? Modern medicine is the miracle because even with that defect, she still needed life saving surgery. Why were all those other people who were KILLED not saved by God, including a 6-year-old girl? I guess he likes to play favorites… I guess God is the Joker.

    • Thank you, TJ, for weighing in on this, and for the kind attitude.

      You may be right, and everything may be random in our world. For much of my life I believed this as well. But if I can offer a bit of respectful dialogue, too?

      If we are honest, we must admit we cannot explain everything. It seems to me there are often several ways to look at and resolve “odd happenings.” How we choose our world view then has impact on how we come to conclusions. And in any world view, there are things which don’t fit well. The death of some and the living of others trouble me sometimes. I was with the family of the six year old in the ICU waiting room. Their pain is not theoretical to me. I care, and grieve.

      Still, out of my research, thoughtful faith, and life experience, I choose a world view in which there is a good God. (For me, science, the Big Bang, quarks, string theory, entropy, paleontology, global techtonics, and medicine, etc., fit well within this world view.) I also believe that God does not control every event on this planet, or every choice a person makes. We are free to act for good or evil. Choices lead to consequences, for good or evil. Is the parent responsible for all the actions of the grown, self-willed child? Not in my world view.

      I also believe that sometimes, for reasons that are mysterious to me, God interacts in the normal course of events in such a way that outcomes are changed from the normal workings of the universe. A Christian Mystic calls this non-normal happening “a miracle.” Is this God playing favorites? I don’t know. Is it unfair? I don’t think so.

      I think God might be working with bigger purposes in mind, with a view for impacting humanity for good, and for eternity. I gain some peace because my worldview tells me the six year old is now experiencing heaven, full of life and love. This biological life is not all there is, for me, and the spiritual future is filled with many good things.

      Quoting Gandalf: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it…White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

      For me, my worldview has offered me meaning for life and peace in the times of trouble. But I confess I may be wrong. I wish you well.

      • I am glad that you admitted that there is a possibility that you may be wrong. That shows a level of open mindedness that I see all to infrequently with people in your position. I have to agree with TJ and say that is was the doctors and the science we have learned over time that saved this woman and not God. I can not believe that any “Good” God would choose to save this woman and the others wounded in the event and allow 12 others to die. Why would he not have stopped the event from happening in the first place. Is he not all powerful? Did he not choose to stop it because he wanted to see how we would pull out of this? Then he is not all knowing. Did he choose not to stop this knowing the outcome? Then he is not good. Brad, you seem to be a well educated man and what you are doing appears to be helping some of the families involved so to that I applaud you and please keep helping those around you.

        I apologize for this small rant but I want to convey to Petra, her family, and everyone else that was affected by this that I mourn for you and your losses and am willing to help in any way that I can.

      • Brad, you are a true gentleman. My thoughts and prayers are with Petra, her mom and all the families hurt by this unspeakable act of violence.

      • I don’t want to be another atheist troll or anything, especially because you do like most Christians, and other people in general, seem like a genuinely good and kind person. This really is an extraordinary story and does give me some pause. That being said, I still can’t resolve the idea that if there were a God, that he would choose to save one person’s life and not the 12 others who died. I could list off all the reasons for you why I don’t believe in God, and why I sure as hell don’t follow any formal religion, but that would be pointless. I don’t think you need to believe in God to still find this story remarkable. In fact it might make it more amazing if there were no higher power that saved her life. It is also important to note that for me, because I don’t believe in life after death, the fact that she is still alive has more significance. I believe that we all need to treat each other like human beings and work towards a greater society. The people who commit these terrible acts, whatever religious leaning, don’t hold this same view and take that person’s life not only from them, but from all of us. I think this is something that we can all agree on and I hope that people will continue to stand up for the kind of respect that every human being deserves, regardless of their beliefs.

      • You, sir, are impressive. Not only do you recognize a valid point amid semi-hostile words and acknowledge it, but you also present your case in a rational and intelligent manner. It is refreshing to see someone who is faithful through the power of their own reasoning, determination, and experiences rather than being told to believe it “or else.”

        I’d say that, in the case that there happens to be a supreme god, most prayer, even prayer asking to heal somebody, is arrogant and conceited. The rough point TJ made is that so many others died and she lived. If that is part of some divine purpose beyond human understanding, then people should accept their god’s will instead of constantly trying to alter his plans through prayer. That’s how I see it anyways.

        LOL And to top it all off you quote the great and wise Gandalf. +10 internets for you, sir.


        P.S. Before infinity, all becomes inevitable. That is my belief. She is lucky. Lucky for the flaw, lucky for the surgeons, lucky for family and friends to love and support her. Thanks for sharing this story.

      • I like your reasonable, friendly response here Brad. For those of us without a defined faith, some of the GOD IS GOOD! responses seem tone-deaf to the families that lost lives around this remarkable story.

      • I get it. When people are respectful, I am thankful for the dialogue even when they disagree with me. While I do believe that God is good, I know sometimes it doesn’t “feel” good–even to me, the pastor.

      • 2 1/2 years ago, my very Christian 35 year old brother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and lived 3 weeks after his diagnosis. As he was dying, his words of faith were, it will be for His Glory. I struggle with what my brother said, but I know he truly believed it.

    • Yes, this is a miracle. We never know how long our days are on this earth. Maybe that six year old child would have died in childbirth yet God allowed them to live six years with their parents. We just don’t know. Yes, the surgeons are a very big part in this but remember that God gave them their ability too. How can we, who have rejected God, question His ways? He has a perfect plan which we don’t know…just like Petra’s brain issue…but we saw the why behind Petra’s issue today. So many times we don’t get to see the “why” behind things and that’s where we just need to trust in an Almighty God who WILL work all things for good to those who love Him. Romans 8:28.

    • People will always doubt God. He is not a genie. We do not know His plans and human free will can go against those plans. Some would say he gifted people to be those miracle workers in those hospitals. I will not condemn you for your thoughts. So, please do not mock others beliefs because you do not understand them yourself or disagree with them. As I see it, there is nothing hurt by Christians giving glory to God and recognizing His work through people. I am so happy for this family and will continue to hold them up in prayer. God is Mystery because we are not God. Simple as that.

      • I beg your pardon, I did not mock anything. I asked intelligent, thoughtful questions which are difficult to answer while mainting the contradiction that is an omniopotent being in control of everything which happens, and the concept of free will. These are incompatible concepts, and they are easily dismissed by reasonable thinking.

      • You personally might not condemn those who disagree but many others do. And I do see damage in giving glory to ANY divine entity and that is the WAY it is done. Far too many comments are all about the good he has done to this one individual. Very little mention about the dead victims. Even if the story is supposed to focus on the single individual, far too few seem to think the dead victims matter. Further, there is far too little credit given to the doctors who are treating her. Do you believe Petra would have survived if there were no doctors to take care of her?

        The point I am making here is that you seem to be mocking the beliefs that do not involve divine intervention by saying “God is Mystery because we are not God. Simple as that.” You cannot expect someone to believe that it was divine intervention from. You evidently disagree with the non-divine possibility (or at the very least not understand it). a being we do not understand because we are not supposed to understand.

        If I were to say “She survived by chance. She had a very low chance but it happened because the chance was not zero. Simple as that” then it would be met with immediate backlash. But then it would be mocking beliefs they do not agree with or understand.

        Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy she survived. But I still think
        1) there is too much credit given to divine intervention and not to the medical aspects (and then there is the whole debate of whether or not it was god-given knowledge but that would be futile).

        2) There is TOO MUCH to not understand to give a solution as simple as “it was god”

        3) This does not explain why an all-loving god would choose this individual in particular

      • Mike,
        Your comment is well taken. And, please read my words as those of someone who is not real smart or even knows what he’s talking about. I used to tell my students that I “know just enough to be dangerous.” Without ever having met you, though, let me try to express my love for a fellow human being by sharing what I think and believe about God’s Purposes.

        Even the most devout believer struggles at times with faith. Here’s the thing in the whole worldwide discussion about faith: you have to accept – at some point – two principles about the nature of God. He is both Provident and Sovereign. Sovereign means that He can do whatever He chooses, especially with His Creation. Provident means that He knows what’s going to happen WAY in advance. So, here’s OUR challenge as humans. Do we try to grasp fully with our puny intellect and reasoning the wonders and powers and designs of God? Or, do we think that we are EQUAL to God and thus pridefully and even arrogantly question why He would “let” such a thing as the Aurora shooting happen?

        I believe that spiritual warfare is all around us. That’s a big leap, right? Well, I’m an historian and am humbled by the understanding that HUMAN history is really very short. That is, when you compare it to eternity. Human history is a microcosm of all that goes on in the spiritual realm, WAAAAY deeper that we can ever imagine. It must be like why J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. It seems to me that Tolkien was trying to put into human thinking / fantasy fiction what the spiritual realm must be like. There is always hope!

        All of that said, God’s Purpose for YOU or for ME is going to depend upon what God has in store for us. What decisions will we make? God knows, but doesn’t decide for us. I was a mean drunk who preyed upon women and the weak, but He gave me two sons to rear up as His warriors, young men who now glorify God in their actions and not themselves. The young man accused of the shooting might simply be an agent or an actor, bringing non-believers into discussion with believers. No, I don’t believe that God sent an angel to shoot up a theater. HOWEVER, I do believe that Satan – amid the spiritual warfare thing – may have encouraged so much doubt and fear and hate into one man’s mind and heart that he acted with the greatest evil intent.

        So, how does a shooter get to THAT point? Did people ridicule him for being so smart? A science geek? Was he abused in childhood? Was he never provided direction as to right or wrong by the adults in his life? Ultimately, did he not feel WORTHY of love? As a teacher and coach, that’s what I demand most of my students and players: MAKE EVERYONE FEEL LIKE THEY ARE PART OF THE GROUP! Coolness or genius or athletic ability, it doesn’t matter. We ought to find a place for everyone to BELONG. No, I will never play alongside Landon Donovan on the U.S. soccer team. God’s Purpose for me was not to be a great soccer player, but I can be a great soccer coach of middle schoolers!

        God creates and acts so that His Purpose – His Will – can take place. Whether its wiping out entire people groups so that the nation of Israel could inhabit the lands promised to Abraham (read the book of Joshua) or “allowing” twelve lives to end so that you and I can have this conversation, God ultimately desires people to accept – out of their own free will – His Promise of eternal life with Him. And, the only way for either of us to ascend into communion with Perfection is to be redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus’ death on the cross and to believe in His resurrection to defeat death’s sting. Remember the spiritual warfare thing? Jesus is God’s Son, both God and Man. Jesus dies then rises again in order to suck all the sin out of the world – that is, for people who choose to believe.

        Mike, I’m only a passerby in your travels, but I will pray for you to seek out someone nearby to you who might be able to answer more questions for you. Forgive me if I have not honored God in sharing with you. Godspeed.

    • We are not to question God. In time we may learn the answer. Through this event, and events like this, we as humans, learn compassion. We learn what grief is and how caring people help us through this difficult situation. Christ died on the cross, crucified. Did God save him? No, it was in the beginning plan that such an event would happen. Did Jesus not wish to die? Yes. He asked if this “cup be taken from me”. He wasn’t speaking of a chalice of drink. He was speaking of having to die for the sins of the world. My grandmother lost her little toddler son before his second birthday in a terrible accident, when a few drops of kerosene from a laundry cup was drank. It went down his little windpipe. They lived in a very rural community in Oklahoma, long before 911 and ambulances. My grandfather cried every time Buddy was mentioned………for the rest of his life. But my grandmother found counselation in the fact that Buddy would have been the right age to be in the armed services during WWII. Her grief found the answer to “Why did a little toddler have to die so young”. She knew, in her heart, that Buddy would have died in the war and as much as she loved him as a toddler, she would have loved him more as an adult. Sometimes it takes years before we know the answer……..and sometimes we may never know. I know of teens braving cancer, fighting the good fight, who die. But during their illness, they start foundations, help others in the same circumstances, leave living memories that go on and on, well beyond their death, so that hopefully, others will live. God’s plan cannot be questioned……..we just have to listen and learn. The answer may come………..at some point……but there is an answer. But we must be willing to listen and watch.

      • So do not question god, but it is perfectly fine for you to question other people’s beliefs? You are nothing but an ignorant hypocrite.

      • Perhaps I am ignorant. I feel like it sometimes. In honesty, I do sometimes question God. I tell him I don’t get it. I get angry at injustice in the world, and ask God to act more quickly. But still I trust him. And I see him work.

      • I reject the notion that I must witness the slaughtering of innocent human beings, or really any living creature, in order to learn compassion. That is something I, and you, were taught as small children by our parents. What is the value of “sacrificing” one’s life if one is aware that one will not “stay dead”? Furthermore, I do not need “saving”. Nor do you, nor do any of us. And when I make mistakes, as you do, I accept both the responsibility and the consequences, I need no other person or demigod to take my consequences for me. If an omnipotent being wishes to “forgive”, then I can think of no more altruistic gesture. But to require first a blood sacrifice is patently horrifying. No such deity is worthy of worship.

      • Dianna, i think explanations like this are coping mechanisms. Just because we don’t know why, doesn’t mean it was some supernatural being’s plan. I think by choosing an imaginary entity as an omnipotent director of every thing big and wee is distracting us from gaining an insight into our own respective parts of humanity as a whole. I try to understand, and sometimes I think that it is a great thing such mechanisms exist to keep us from going crazy from pain. At the same time I look forward to other ways of learning how to reason and cope than what we do by placing ultimate and unattainable intelligence somewhere outside of us.

      • We are to question God. We can shake our fists at him, argue with him, doubt, whine and blame. If he is love, truly love, then he will not be offended by we being human and acting that way. The commenters who are angry and have questions have every right before God to ask him the hard questions. God encourages us to do so.

        Our relationship with him is only strengthened over time when we feel that we are allowed to be ourselves and not get punished for it. If it was good enough for Jesus to question him, it’s good enough for me.

        He is not a dictator who says you better do this and do it this way or else… that sounds more like a dysfunctional parent. But isn’t it just like us to try to mold him to our experience rather than letting him be who he truly is. We try to define God as we want to. Why is it so much easier to believe that God threw this entire creation in a human 7 day workweek than it is to believe that the process lasted billions of years and was infinitely complex and continues to be? One day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day to God, is it not. That is no less miraculous than the 7 day belief.

        Some Christians are like your grandma who try to find a reasonable explanation for tragedy–in her case it was her belief that her grandson would have died in WWII, maybe a hero had he lived. Others are like your grandpa who let the sting of the death of a loved one never leave, they feel that pain which is to be human. Jesus was a man of sorrows, he allowed himself to feel the pain.

    • You’re right TJ. Your worldview makes a lot more sense. In the begining there was nothing. Then nothing exploded and created everything. All by random chance. Rocks turned into people over the course of billions and billions of years. We all put our faith in something. I put my faith in a true and loving God. You put your faith in billions and billions of years.

      I believe Petra was saved by God. He still has a plan and a purpose for her to be here on earth. But we all know even when Petra fully recovers she lives to die another day. How dare you say that my God plays favorites! We all have an expiration date, even you. You shouldn’t speak about who was and wan’t saved by God because you don’t know what you’re talking about. That six year old little girl WAS saved by God, in fact she’s probably sitting on Jesus’ lap right now as I type this. She’s experiencing unspeakable joy in heaven and that place is filled with other children her age.

      Also, you have no idea what kind of hardships Petra’s family will have to endure in the future. Maybe you missed the part about her mother being in the final stages of terminal cancer?

      That’s a very hateful comment you made saying God is the Joker. You need to examine yourself and figure out why you feel the need to spread hateful words like those after you read such a beautiful and encouraging story. I feel sorry for you, and I hope you change your attitude because it really sucks.

      • My worldview is that we should treat each other with kindness, love, compassion, sympathy… the way we would like to be treated. I stated that I was glad Petra is okay, and I am. However, the notion that God has a plan for such terrible occurrences is ridiculous and self-serving. I don’t believe there is a God, because if there was, then he would have created a world in which free will did not constitute evil (instead of putting us in this beta-test). Also, thank you Brad for your response, I appreciate the insight.

        Xavier, my intention was not to be hateful at all. But if you’re going to attribute all the good “God” does, then you must also blame him for the bad, if you want to be realistic and truthful to yourself. If God exists, then he played a part in those deaths.

        Now, it’s horrible for me to question god, but it’s perfectly okay to say that my worldview is awful and should be abolished. So here’s my version: Nothing happened to nothing, then God existed, poof everything happened in a few days, the end. Or, how about, in the beginning there were membranes (m theory), they collided. Then all energy of those two membranes came together and started expanding over the course of billions of years. A giant star collapses on itself, forming a black hole (the center of our galaxy). This pulls star dust and other space matter together until it forms all of the stars and planets in our solar system. Now over the course of another billion years, the organic material comes together to form an organism. That organism evolves through mutations (random) and natural selection (not at all a random process) until we have humans as we are today.

        However, I digress. It doesn’t matter where we come from. But I cannot stand by and let the integrity of life be compromised by the hope that there is an after life, because we have no evidence for it. I am so happy Petra is doing okay, because it’s one less life lost. But for those other unfortunate people, they may never get to see their loved ones again, be happy, or get to experience any other aspect of life. Life is so amazing, and there is a possibility that this is all we have, here and now. So I grieve for those who had that taken away from them.

    • TJ, that saddens my heart that u feel this way….this was a true miracle…the miracle was that God guided these Drs hands as they preformed this surgery…anytime I or any family member or friend have surgery..I always ask God to guide the surgens hand and be a vessel in this mission. I will remember u as I pray for Petra and Kim and all the others..God always has something good come out of something bad.

    • @ TJ it saddensmy heart to hear u feel this way…This is a true miracle..I’ve always believed that something good can come ot of bad situations…Before any surgery, I pray that God will be the vessel ti guide the surgens hands…..and he has always come thru. I will remember u as I continue to pray for Petra and Kim..

    • TJ,

      I grieve for all those who were lost and ache for those who are left to mourn them. I am not an expert and have some questions of my own to ask God someday. However, I do believe this…. When we accept God into our lives through his son Jesus, we give him access and permission to work on our behalf. It’s like giving him the keys to our lives. He does not force himself on anyone who does not ask. He is locked out of operating on our behalf and on the behalf of our children, (since we are their guardians) unless we give him permission or unless someone else is praying on our/their behalf.

      Every time there is a tragedy such as this you will find those who had plans to be at the place of the tragedy, but for whatever reason did not attend. I am very interested to learn if those people had either allowed God access to their lives, or had relatives/friends who were praying for them and their salvation on a regular basis. I know that my niece had plans to attend the midnight show that night, but decided not to go because she had school in the morning. I pray for her and her family often. Could it be a coincidence?

      I also base these thoughts on the fact that years ago I was in a car accident. Before the accident, I had a strong feeling not to go, but I went anyway. Moments before the drunk driver hit me, I felt that I should slow down even though I was driving the speed limit. I didn’t slow down…… and that accident caused me hardship. It also taught me to pay more attention to warnings. Is it possible that some of those who were injured or killed felt a warning, but went anyway? This is a question we may never be able to answer for certain, but maybe my thoughts can give you some peace.

      I do agree, modern medicine is wonderful and without it Petra would not be alive. But without the defect, she would have had a much more limited life.


  9. Thank you for showing God’s goodness in the midst of “hard things”. I have been walking a hard path for 5 years ..when my son was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis (it causes tumors to grow on nerve endings) .. When I can’t see or understand what He is doing, He has taught me to trust in His good character. Psalm 62:8. Prayers from Atlanta, GA….
    (With your permission, I am going to post a link to your blog and a section from your blog).

  10. We met Kim, Petra and Chloe through home school speech and debate. I’ve been praying for Kim most of the summer. We rejoice in their joy and wait with them to see how God will work all of this to His good! Thanks for sharing with us their story and His miraculous love!

  11. I have a 3 mo baby girl we named Petra. I will be praying for your Petra every day while I take are of mine!

  12. I am crying as I read this story. It is SO like God to make a miracle long ago that we would just now be able to see! Praying for Petra and her family, and all the people that will be touched by this story. Thank you for sharing!

  13. So this god allows a bunch of people, including a child, to be murdered, so that he can show us a miracle. Yep, makes perfect sense to me.

    • Thank you for weighing in on this. Your question has been often raised, and is valid. But if I can offer a bit of respectful dialogue, too? Just my own opinions…and I may be wrong.

      If we are honest, we must admit we cannot explain everything. It seems to me there are often several ways to look at and resolve “odd happenings.” How we choose our world view then has impact on how we come to conclusions. And in any world view, there are things which don’t fit well. The death of some and the living of others trouble me sometimes. I was with the family of the six year old in the ICU waiting room. Their pain is not theoretical to me. I care, and grieve.

      Still, out of my research, thoughtful faith, and life experience, I choose a world view in which there is a good God. (For me, science, the Big Bang, quarks, string theory, entropy, paleontology, and medicine, etc., fit well within this world view.) I also believe that God does not control every event on this planet, or every choice a person makes. We are free to act for good or evil. Choices lead to consequences, for good or evil. Is the parent responsible for all the actions of the grown, self-willed child? Not in my world view.

      I also believe that sometimes, for reasons that are mysterious to me, God interacts in the normal course of events in such a way that outcomes are changed from the normal workings of the universe. A Christian Mystic calls this non-normal happening “a miracle.” Is this God playing favorites? I don’t know. Is it unfair? I don’t think so. Is all this so God, “can show us a miracle?” I don’t think that God, unlike the media circus, is trying to “show” anything.

      I think God might be working with bigger purposes in mind, with a view for impacting humanity for good, and for eternity. I gain some peace because my worldview tells me the six year old is now experiencing heaven, full of life and love. This biological life is not all there is, for me, and the spiritual future is filled with many good things.

      Quoting Gandalf: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it…White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

      For me, my worldview has offered me meaning for life and peace in the times of trouble. But I confess I may be wrong. I wish you well.

    • Yes, this is a miracle. We never know how long our days are on this earth. Maybe that child would have died in childbirth yet God allowed them to live six years with their parents. We just don’t know. Yes, the surgeons are a very big part in this but remember that God gave them their ability too. How can we, who have rejected God, question His ways? He has a perfect plan which we don’t know…just like Petra’s brain issue…but we saw the why behind Petra’s issue today. So many times we don’t get to see the “why” behind things and that’s where we just need to trust in an Almighty God who WILL work all things for good to those who love Him. Romans 8:28.

    • People have choices, Dave. Holmes had a choice to walk in there and kill those people. God does not want robots, He wants people who either love and listen to him or hate and not listen to Him. Evil is part of this world. God never promised that there would not be evil things happen in this world, He promised His prescence with us when they happen. I know that this will not make sense to you and its okay. Don’t be angry, try to understand that evil exists and we need to fight against it and support those who encounter it. If people loved each other as He told us to, this horror would never happen.

    • Dave I do not understand why you must say this this is a up lifting story that people are bringing down with comments like this yes it is sad that 12 people have died but why not rejoice in Gods grace that one has survived there is a bright light at the end of every dark tunnel unless you keep your eyes closed

      • First of all, the rejoicing should be in the medical knowledge of the doctors that perform(ed) the necessary surgeries – without them this story would not likely have existed.

        Now the big issue is that this article does not properly address the dead individuals. This story is taking advantage of the fact something with an extraordinarily low chance happened and crediting a being whose existence was never proven (and if you think you can/did prove any god exists then write up a scientific paper and submit it to be scientifically reviewed).

        Let me ask you this question of perspective: if one of the twelve who were murdered that night was your best (human) friend, would you STILL think this is an uplifting story of a miracle?

      • Yes. Or at least I think so. I have lost several best friends, and know I would be shaken and devastated. But the continued life of another would still make me praise God.

    • Dave, thanks for your comment. I agree that it seems random and pointless at first, that God would allow some to die and some to be spared. But I would ask you to consider a few things.

      First, consider that in a world without God, this event isn’t evil, at all. In a purely materialistic universe, there is no good or evil, only survival of the fittest. If that’s the worldview you adopt, then you have no grounds to call this event evil. It was simply a strong creature killing weaker ones, which happens every day, every hour, every minute in this world of Darwinian evolution.

      But something inside us pushes back against that. We know this is evil; we know it’s wrong for a deranged man to take the lives of so many innocent people. There are certain moral absolutes in life, and killing innocent people is absolutely wrong. But in order for there to be moral absolutes, there must be something that establishes those morals in us. Evolution and naturalistic chance can’t do that; their methods of adaption to environment and survival of the fittest run counter to these morals. Only in a world with a God can these morals make sense, given that God declares the killing of innocents to be wrong, and God wires us each with that intrinsic knowledge.

      In the end, it is a miracle that Petra lived. Even with this tunnel through her brain, if she had been facing in any other direction at that exact moment or tilted her head slightly, it wouldn’t have mattered. God arranged everything precisely in such a way that this girl was spared, regardless of the odds against it. It was a clear statement that despite the carnage, God wanted this girl to live.

      Now why did God let some die, but choose to save this particular girl? It’s a question we may never know the answer to, but it might become apparent in this girl’s life years down the road. In any case, this is not a new question. Every single day, God takes many lives, even the lives of some who don’t seem to be anywhere near death’s door. Every single day, God also spares many lives, even the lives of some where it seems like death is inevitable. To my understanding, it is absolutely amazing that so many survived this massacre, given how many guns the assailant had, and the fact that the audience was largely immobilized and trapped in a theater. It is undeniably tragic that 12 people lost their lives, but it is miraculous that so many more were spared.

      If I could speak hypothetically for a bit, how would you react if 24 people were supposed to have died in that event, but God graciously spared half that number? God has no reason to save them; God is not in any way obligated to give us good, long lives, or to spare us from harm. But suppose God did decide to spare 12 out of 24, purely out of His kindness. Would that mean something to you? You might choose to rail against God and argue as to why He didn’t save all 24, but again, we need to realize that God is under no obligation to save us when death rears its ugly head.

      But I suppose you might ask how we could ever know that God would spare these 12 people. After all, we can’t see multiple outcomes; we only see what happens. For us to know that God saved someone, we would have to see some miraculous occurrence, some near impossibility that nevertheless happens. For example, we might have to see that God designed a particular girl’s brain with a pathway for a bullet, then perfectly aligned her head at the moment the assailant pulled the trigger so that the bullet amazingly does little to no lasting brain damage, despite traveling through so much brain matter and sticking in her head. Now, if we saw something as impossible as that happen, we might be able to conclude that God did graciously spare this girl’s life, despite being under no obligation to do so. Perhaps God does have a plan for this girl, and He wants to let the world know it.

      In any case, we can clearly say that this massacre was evil, horrifically so. But we can also say that God miraculously spared the life of Petra. The details are the proof.

    • A note from the author: This blog went viral today (50,000 hits per hour now) and caught me off guard. I was trying to answer all the comments, both good and bad, visit the hospital, and keep up with my pastoral duties. Honestly, I am surprised and overwhelmed. A few comments posed the same tough questions (good ones) and I did cut and paste some answers. I am simply trying to save time. Forgive me if I repeat myself, and have not learned the science of blogging well…. Brad

      • You have done your part Pastor, pray for guidance on how to address this viral blog going forward but hopefully people will see your responses in earlier comments. Perhaps you can post an update to the store – a note from the author that everyone can see. God bless you Pastor. – Julian from Costa Rica

  14. Thank you for this inspirational story – I hope this makes national news so others see the miracles of God! People in Indiana are praying!

  15. God’s work continues to redefine the word “miracle.” Thanks for sharing, Brad. As we all need, inspiration and hope from a horrible tragedy.

    • that’s very true but leave it to GOD to plan a miracle long before it was ever needed GOD is GREAT no other way to say it !

    • Thank you for weighing in on this. This question is raised in many peoples minds, I think. But if I can offer a bit of respectful dialogue, too?

      If we are honest, we must admit we cannot explain everything. It seems to me there are often several ways to look at and resolve “odd happenings.” How we choose our world view then has impact on how we come to conclusions. And in any world view, there are things which don’t fit well. The death of some and the living of others trouble me sometimes. I was with the family of the six year old in the ICU waiting room. Their pain is not theoretical to me. I care, and grieve.

      Still, out of my research, thoughtful faith, and life experience, I choose a world view in which there is a good God. (For me, science, the Big Bang, quarks, string theory, entropy, paleontology, and medicine, etc., fit well within this world view.) I also believe that God does not control every event on this planet, or every choice a person makes. We are free to act for good or evil.

      Choices lead to consequences, for good or evil. Is the parent responsible for all the actions of the grown, self-willed child? Not in my world view. If God were to interact against all evil on earth at a one-by-one personal level, how is anyone free? Choice and freedom are removed if I jury-rig the consequences. Just my opinion.

      I also believe that sometimes, for reasons that are mysterious to me, God interacts in the normal course of events in such a way that outcomes are changed from the normal workings of the universe. A Christian Mystic calls this non-normal happening “a miracle.” Is this God playing favorites? I don’t know. Is it unfair? I don’t think so.

      I think God might be working with bigger purposes in mind, with a view for impacting humanity for good, and for eternity. I gain some peace because my worldview tells me the six year old is now experiencing heaven, full of life and love. This biological life is not all there is, for me, and the spiritual future is filled with many good things.

      Quoting Gandalf: “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it…White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

      For me, my worldview has offered me meaning for life and peace in the times of trouble. But I confess I may be wrong. I wish you well.

      • My heart goes out to the victims, i’m so glad this lucky young woman is going to be ok..and I hope she’s ok in the long run. I hope it’s not too forward of me or misplaced here to thank you for your post. I’m not religious, and things like this make me wonder…why? I get so much hate from some Christians because of my lifestyle (i’m gay) and who I love, among other things, yet I grew up around religious people of all kinds and admire a lot of what religion has to teach, even though I feel it’s plain common sense stuff, it still means the message gets out and that’s what matters.

        I’m thankful that there are people like you out there talking the talk AND walking the walk. I just want you to know that you have my utmost respect for your post.

        Again, I apologize if this seems indulgent or dierespectful in light of events. I just feel that the good people in this world should be appreciated whenever we can…especially in light of terrible events such as the one that led to this young woman being injured.

      • Brad, I have no doubt that you are a very good person and I feel happy that Petra has survived this tragedy. Why is it though that for each person who questions how such an atrocity could occur without intervention from God you answer with the same piece of dialogue? I admire your belief and in some ways I envy your faith but I think each person deserves their own personal response .

        I don’t want to attack your beliefs as it must be a great comfort to believe that God has “a bigger picture in mind”. I just hope you’re right. All the best.

      • Blog went viral last night, Rachel, with over 500 waiting comments. (Most are positive) I was doing my best to keep up, as I did not expect this volume. Wanted to answer those who disagreed, and a common answer to a common question seemed possible at the time. The best laid plans of mice and men…

      • If an all-powerful God CHOSE to save her, that means he also CHOSE to forsake 12 others. Exactly how is that supposed to be comforting?

      • Perhaps. But I seek to see the silver lining in the storm. Foolish perhaps, but I see God working through tragedy, while not controlling ever move men and women make.

      • Hi Brad, thank you so much for your response. I tried to delete my response as soon as I posted it! I apologise for the way it came across. Your response did make me think and was well thought out. A lot of people who believe in God don’t seem to have such a tolerant understanding of those who don’t. I think it’s wonderful that you have this faith and that you acknowledge you don’t have all the answers. I am sorry for any offence caused. You are clearly a good person wanting to express a belief that is ultimately good and kind.

  16. Best news I’ve heard in along time! Thank you for sharing. How great is our God!!!

  17. Oh I get it. So god let all those other people be killed then, like that 3 month old, even though he clearly has the power to reach out and stop it. What a miracle indeed.

  18. Brad, a well written story conveying God’s goodness and sovereignty. Petra sounds like an amazing young woman. Thanks for sharing this story of God’s amazing grace.

    “For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb. My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13, 15, 16 NIV)

  19. How great is our God!
    I’m so glad this has been shared. Thank you for writing and sharing this. I enjoyed your other material as well. Now following from Eurasia 🙂

  20. Thank you,Pastor Brad, for this beautiful account of the grace God provides following tragedy. I have been praying for Petra and Kim without really knowing them, and now I have a little more of their moving story to energize more prayer. May the Lord continue the evidence of miracles in this family.

  21. I don’t know why I am amazed at this story!!!! Our God can cause a bullet meant for destruction and cause it to go on a path in the brain that causes the least amount of injury possible for someone who still has work to do for His kingdom. Amazing!
    That is not to say that I don’t grieve for the lives lost…I do. We live in a sin saturated world. Our sin doesn’t just affect us, it affects everyone…cause and effect.
    I am praying for Colorado, for the victims and for God to show himself to those suffering!

  22. God had this pathway planned even before her birth! Oh how AMAZING our God is! To Him be praised!! Thank you Jesus!

    • Does that include planning 12 people to be brutally murdered while watching a movie?

      • Hmmm. Mike, it seems to me that for freedom to be real, a parent (or God) must let their adult children grow up and make real choices with real consequences. The evil is not from God in my worldview.

      • Yes God had it planned before her birth, even before she was formed in the womb! But God does not plan for a person to commit such a horrible murder of 12 people, but HE does know it is going to happen, and therefore can plan for it. We will never understand God’s Omnipotent Power nor understand why HE allows Evil to act out in such terrible ways, but some day I will, because of His grace, will you?

      • Would you be happier with a God who zapped all would-be killers before they had an opportunity to do something like this? What if he did it in a way that left no doubt that it was God and not arbitrary chance? Your response would likely be that God is arbitrary in zapping some people and not others because you don’t have the benefit of omniscience. He’s just killing people at random as far as you can tell….

        Would you be happier with a God who does not allow you to make your own decisions? I’d guess it wouldn’t be any more well received than if I could prevent you from doing things I don’t like…..

        Knowing about something and planning it are two completely different things. It’s a bit disingenuous to say God ‘planned’ it. Aware of it? Yes. Planned it? No.

  23. Thank you for sharing this story! It is always a blessing to hear the good that comes from tragedy. God is always in control. ALWAYS! And we need to hear more of this type of story in the media instead of seeing the face of the one who caused this. Thank you.

    • Amen to that! Some people are only capable of focusing on the negative- Sad really! But knowing God is knowing peace. For those who do not need scientific proof because they BELIEVE, we know that one day, in Heaven, our questions will be answered and there will be no more weeping. 🙂 Praise the Lord! I hope the non-believers follow Petra’s story because God’s Glory will continue to shine, I’m sure!

  24. My prayers include that God would curb the circus called the media. I pray they will all the injured to heal, for families who lost a loved one the time the need to soothe the pain of their grief, and for all of the friends and families of the injured and slain to be comforted by an immutable and loving God, touched by the love of Jesus, and held by the Holy Spirit.

    Thank God for the way in which God works, to bring light into even this dark situation.

    • God is Good All the Time!!! How wonderful!!! Thank you Jesus for your Healing Hand on Petra!!! Amen!!!

    • This post is on the internet. As far as the world is concerned, this IS the media. The difference is that the political media is more concerned about the legal aspects and possible future laws. The media eats up this sort of thing and takes advantage of it. That is not a good approach. HOWEVER this post is doing the exact same sort of thing: taking advantage of a particular survivor who had an extraordinarily low chance to do so and saying that it is because a particular divine being favored her.

      I do hope the injured will heal and for those who lost their loved ones to have their psychological wounds healed. However, rather than trusting divine intervention I will trust modern medical science. I won’t go again into the whole “god is not all loving” bit again (posted several different aspects of it already) but I will still say it is a little disrespectful to those who do not believe in the Judeo-Christian god (or any other for that matter).

  25. Nice Story…I actually knew some of Perta’s cousins in junior high so this hit pretty close to home. God Bless you sir! I hope and pray she is healed and restored to full health!

  26. God is good!!! What a miracle!!! Praying for continued improvement for Petra and precious time for Kim!!

  27. Praise be to God the Almighty!! This is a beautiful reminder of His involvement with His children! There may be wickedness around us, but God says, “I’m still here!! I have not abandoned you!!” Praise be to our faithful friend, and may His name be praised throughout the country-even the world- as this story is told!! God, you are great–you are so amazing!!

  28. Praise the LORD! What some may call a “defect” in Petra’s brain God used for His glory and His purposes. What a MIghty God we serve!

  29. Thank you so much for sharing Petra’s story – it really is a reminder that nothing surprises God… nothing at all. He has a plan even in the midst of the chaos and the tragedy – and brings beauty from the ashes.

    • Is he good for having specifically chosen Petra to save? What did the 12 dead victims do to deserve to die, or not to have been saved?

      • Part of believing in a good God, for me at least, is believing that even when I don’t understand things, God is at work. Many chose not to see life this way. I get it. But I have found that, over time, even great loss can be used for good. Dorian, the evidence of a lifetime allows me to trust God.

      • I don’t think any god had anything to do with this.

        And Brad, WHAT evidence allows you to trust God? And for the sake of argumentation, please do not reference the bible (as I am sure you know faith in the bible requires faith in a particular god and if your evidence is based on the bible or other things you saw/heard about then I will not be able to consider them true since as you might have figured I doubt there was any divine intervention).

        Further, the way I see life is this: if you don’t understand something then you try to figure out what happened. That is how science was born. Rather than simply saying that something is as it is because of divine intervention, one should research. It seems that Christianity (and other religions) teach laziness and some ignorance (crediting divine intervention to things you don’t understand shows an unwillingness to think).

        I am replying here since your (Brad’s) comment did not have a reply button

      • Oswald, that’s why it’s called faith! Atheists even have a faith in the presence of no god. I suspect that what you believe requires some faith (believing without seeing) as well.

        Maybe the evidence lies in people’s stories of how faith has changed them.

  30. What a mighty God we serve!!! Thank you for sharing this story! May many more come to know Him through this. God bless!

  31. I live in Texas and my cousin, Lucy Bissell shared this story with me. Lucy asked me to pray for Petra on Friday and I have been doing so ever since, so it was so nice to read this amazing story that you so eloquently wrote. Wow, is all I could say, several times, while reading the article. Awestruck wonder of our amazing God, who loves each of us more than we could ever imagine and plans every detail of our lives. Jeremiah 1:5 comes to mind: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” I’m so happy to hear Petra continues to improve and heal Thank you for sharing such an encouraging story. I may have to borrow this story to share with my friends and family on FB.

  32. Petra, obviously has much to do with her life, she’s Gods Miracle. Beautiful story, indeed God is good. Praying for her and all involved in this tragedy!

  33. Petra GOD was watching and planning for this long before but leave it to GOD to plan so far into the future I’m sure he is sad by the events that have happened but by your life being saved we can look and say out of all the evel that has happened this young lady is a true miracle I that is we here in south florida are praying for your safe recovery and return to your regular life your struggle with this nightmare is a reason to rejoice and say thank you GOD for placing your hands over your child at her time of need I pray for you blessings and prayers for your recovery 🙂

  34. Yes, a beautiful miracle! God is truly God of the universe. I am always surprised when we are surprised by Him. And yet, there it is…we are in awe, we are surprised. To think that not only for Petra, but for each and every one of His children, there are miraculous moments created just for His purpose, just for His glory. I am so encouraged by Petra’s story, reminded again that yes, God does know. God does have a plan….even for me! Amen and Amen!!

  35. Blogs like this make me wonder how anyone could call themselves agnostic or atheist. How can you read this and NOT believe?

    • How can you read about a 6 year old (and 11 more people) being murdered by a madman, and DO believe? Not to mention the millions of sad, terrible, and sick things that are happening right as you read this.

      I’m honestly happy about Petra, and I’m glad she had this amazing luck, but to say that these kind of stories (where something “good” happens as a consequence of a series of incredibly regrettable and bad things do) are the kind of stories that should make people believe, is just plain wrong.

    • Well what about the 12 dead victims?

      What about the fact that there millions starving and dying in Africa?
      Or the fact that so many hateful actions are done in the name of the Judeo-Christian god?

      If you claim that the Judeo-Christian god is to be credited with this sort of good, then you cannot blame another for the evil.

      Further, I challenge you to prove that Petra survived simply because god let her. Here is a hint: remember that she was treated at the hospital by medical professionals and without them she would not have received any initial treatments.

      • With or without religion, people have done evil things to each other throughout history. Your post takes me back to places. Millions starving. I have worked among the poor in Africa, and at a feeding station in Calcutta. I have feed the poor in Central America, refugees of war. Burma. Thailand. Mexico City. Juarez. Everywhere, the world is full of human tragedy. The broken have names and faces to me. I grieve for them, and strive to help them as I can. I hope others will too.

        But–independent from this struggle–I see God at work in all of these places. Little rays of goodness, and daily blessings among poor but wonderful people. Medical people worked hard to save Petra, too. Thank you all. None of this experience in my life disproves that there is a God, either. In fact, I have seen him work. The darkness does not disprove that light exists, only that it is not currently present. Just my opinions.

  36. It’s so amazing what God can do. It’s so real and touching, May God be praised forever more. Amen. Much prayers and hug to u Kim.

  37. Truly a remarkable story! Blessings to Petra and her family! I came across your blog by chance and glad I stopped to read.

  38. Wow. absolutely amazing and incredible! Anyone who doesnt believe God has a plan for all of us and that He will see us through our worst time, needs to read this.

  39. We r so thankful we serve a risen savior thru. Christ jesus who still performs miracles daily in all our lives that love him. Will be praying along with our prayer group at church for petra an her mother the family..friends.. doctors an nurses.. that care for each them
    ..our god is an awesome god…..need we say more…

  40. I wonder how many people stop to think that an omnimpotent, and omnipresent God, who allowed that young man the freedon to choose evil, also before this young woman was born, provided a way that she should escape permanent harm and be such a testimony of his ability to protect. Why her? Only God knows! Praying his peace to those who lost loved ones and the injured!

  41. Our God is amazing, nothing he does surprises me I only stand in awe of his grace. I am so proud to be a Child of God and know I am a citizen of Heaven by the grace of God. God bless and thank you for sharing this story. I love to see prayers in motion as God answers them.

  42. Thanks to TJ for his honest questions about how God works, and for not using negative, insulting language. Thanks to Brad for his post and his honest, respectful reply which helped many of us who read it. And thanks to God who in his infinite wisdom does what is best for all of us whether or not we, in our finite knowledge, understand.

  43. Our God’s greatness cannot be measured, but it sure can be praised!

    Thank you, sir Brad, for sharing such a well-written piece of amazing grace with us. What a testimony and impact this gal’s story will have on many.



  45. I lost my daughter to suicide in March. It is hard even for us believers to walk in faith, that GOD HAS A PLAN. We can not know why some live and some die. Only HE knows. But I do know the enemy uses the inequity of any tragedy to fan the flames of the unbelievers. (That is his job). With my daughter, I believe that God saved her from something far worse, that the enemy had planned for her. Aurora has brought martyrs to wake America up that we are losing the war on crime, through our patience with ungodly behavior….Aurora created hero’s so people could see that there are still those who are willing to give their lives so others may live…and Aurora showed all of us…God is still in the miracle business…..May God grant those who grieve a peace that passes all understanding…….

  46. What a wonderful testimony of God’s grace, mercy and love! Haven’t seen you for several years (since South Fellowship-you were with Scott, and Rick R. introduced us), but I really appreciate your Pastor’s heart in sharing this miracle of God, and in your honest writing of the event. I hope many thousands see, hear and are told of this miracle in a world gone haywire! God bless you, and may God continue to bless Petra in her recovery. (I’m doing my part by sharing on Facebook!)

  47. To God be the Glory for Petra’s medical miracle. We serve an awesome God. Our Father God never fails us, even when he tells us no. I pray for the families of the other victims at this time also. Petra even members of your Worldventures family, like me, are praying steadfastly for a speedy & full recovery for you and Gods grace for your sweet Mother. May God bless you both.

  48. I am so sorry for all the people and they are in my Prayers victims and families Thankyou so much for the amazing testimony of how God already knows and has planned things for His Glory and Purpose .God Blesss You all God is Great!!!!

  49. we serve an awesome God. Thank you for this post. Saw it on facebook via our pastor’s wife. I love how our God is with us in so many ways and has our life prepared. We just need to follow Him and trust Him for the absolute best for us. Again, thank you.

  50. Funny how your god knew this event was going to take place and instead of stopping it, he chooses one victim for some unknown reason and places a tube in her brain so that the bullet will pass. Then for some other reason he allows 12 other innocent people to die. The best you could ascertain from this outcome is that your god is a mysterious and unfair lunatic. It’s is completely asinine to admit that your god knew of the tragedy ahead of time, didn’t stop it, and is somehow “good”. Your god has left the families of the 12 others in indescribable pain and left to wonder, “Why didn’t he choose my child, brother, mom, aunt etc. to escape death like he did for this girl?”. Your blog post is disrepecting the other victims by insinuating that they werent good enough for god to save. I’m just happy that Petra survived and that science was able to help. Science undoubtably saved many of the other wounded victims from dying, while your god did nothing.

  51. I have years running down my face and had chills while reading this. God really is good and knows us and loves us. We just need to not forget Him. Thank you so much for sharing this!!

  52. Incredible! In every tragedy there are always the cases of God’s expressed love, his tangible grace. Some day in heaven I hope there is a seminar on how he chose who to save and who to let die. That baffles me. But these reminders of his love keep me grounded.

  53. God is still in control, and has used Petra, you, Kim, and the individuals at this hospital to prove that even more! So glad you shared your story with us…will spread it to confirm goodness and hope!

  54. Why would God save this woman and not the others that were shot? If God is only good, why wasn’t he good to everyone else? Why didn’t he design the others in the same fashion? If he knew this evil person was going to come along and shoot all these people, why didn’t he do something to save them? But he did something to save this one woman? I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t add up to me.

  55. I think each person that day was cradled in the arms of a Greater Power then I can even comprehend. Why did some get hurt, some die and others live? I don’t know. I would like to believe there was great love in that theater, even with so much hate, violence and fear. I would like to believe that those who died, were hurt and those who were not physically hurt, felt that Love.
    There is also pain from being one of those left standing. There is jealousy and resentment. Life is just like that, it’s who we are. What is joyous can be made sad, what is sad can be made joyous. I hope that all those who are rejoicing and all those are grieving have strength of spirit, warmth of soul. Clarity of thought, peace of mind. A courageous heart and strength for their days. May you have Love beneath you to support you, around you to protect you and above you to shelter you.

  56. Wow. What an incredible, beautiful story. I admit that I, too, struggle with the idea of why God saved some but not others. Still, even a skeptic like me cannot see this as anything short of miraculous. Such a beautiful, talented person, and she’s still got her whole life ahead of her, even when it looked hopeless. Stories like this remind me that good triumphs over evil. Stories like this prove that a psychotic, evil gunman will not keep his targets down. He does not get the satisfaction of saying he ruined all their lives. God bless Petra and her family, and God bless the families of those who were lost. You are loved and in my payers.

  57. Wow! This is such an amazing story, thank you for sharing this! I have been praying for the victims and their families and one of those prayers has been that every story that could bring glory to God, for the world to see would come forth from this. God is so good, all the time! 🙂

  58. Wow!! Praise God. He never ceases to Amaze me! What an Awesome & Amazing God, that you Lord for keeping Petra safe. Yes I know there’s surgeries ahead, but she’s here, Your living Miracle! My prayers to this family, & the rest of the victims & their families too.

  59. This story is truly amazing and can only be explained as God’s plan. It was not Petra’s time and God was not finished with her work here on this earth. He has once again shown us that he truly can work miracles, one just has to believe in his grace!

  60. God is a wondrous God, who controls even the path of gunshot. We never know his purpose for doing such things except that ultimately it will be for His glory and praise. Petra and her family will be in our prayers, as will all the victims. Even reading just the beginning of this, the Holy Spirit prompted me that Petra will be alright, that God was at work in her healing from this. By the time I read through unto the end I was in tears at how God’s hands were already seen in her behalf. Praise God for his care for Petra! She will be in our hearts through your words, and will long be brought to the Lord in prayer because of it. Thank you so much for sharing!

  61. What an awesome, inspiring story…Jesus reigns in this place! Showers of mercy and grace! God bless Petra and her Mom through this journey. Thanks for being there for this family!

  62. Hello Brad,
    Thank you for your eloquent and heartfelt essay on Goodness. You are a fine human being. We are all stunned by this senseless act and it is nice to know there are heroes such as yourself providing comfort and guidance in this difficult time.

  63. Thank you, sir, for this beautifully written journal. I feel like Petra and Kim are my sisters. Your gift of writing makes us feel as if we were right there with you, grieving. What is most refreshing about this post is that I don’t sense any anger in your heart; just faith, hope, love, gratitude, and joy. Thank you, brother, for modeling this attitude to the world. You and I serve and love the same Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be the Glory and Honor. Amen.

  64. Beautiful story God we thank you for tthe miracle of life and will pray for that family who my cousin is a friend ,specialy for Mother and Daughter to have all the blessing of health for a speedy recovery

  65. Words cannot express the wonder of it. God is so much more than we can imagine. God bless all in Aurora.

  66. “You knit me together in my mother’s womb….I am fearfully and wonderfully made and my soul knows it full well!” Thank you for sharing such a well-articulated account. Glory to God the Father!

  67. I have been following Petra’s story through a mutual friend on Facebook and am so very blessed to hear this story of God’s amazing protection of her. My heart is filled with joy at His goodness. I am sharing her story with everyone I know, asking for prayers through all of this. To see what God has done…that God had made a way for her to live even from the beginning…stunning. My heart wraps around Petra and Kim (thank you for sharing of her battle with cancer) and the rest of the family as they move forward along this path God has them on.

    My niece went to school with Alex Teves and has been quite shaken by all of this as is her dad. We are praying God will use it in a great way to draw her to Himself. And I hope Petra’s story will help in some measure as well. Praise God for His bountiful mercy and goodness. Thank you again for sharing this with us.

  68. It is comforting to hear of good things that come out of tragedy, instead of only the bad things. Thank you for sharing this story of a miracle.
    I can see God’s mercy and intervention in many ways concerning this terrible event. It could have been so much worse.
    As with any tragedy, people will respond in one of two ways: they will either turn TO God, or they will blame God and turn away.
    I think of a truth shown in Proverbs 23:7 … as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (actions reflect heart attitude). Jesus himself said in Luke 6:45 that what is in our hearts is what comes out of our mouths.
    As to those who posted negative comments, I appreciate your gentle reply to them. It is sad that they are so negative and bitter …

  69. I was just sent this report from a dear friend. God is still in the miracle and healing business. After all that happened it caused alot of us to wonder how God was going to be glorified in something like this — knew He would be just couldn’t figure out how. This is just the start. God is amazing. How awesome that you were able to witness God’s hand throughout this process. Our family will continue to pray for Petra and her family. We continue to pray for all of you as you share God’s love with all those that are hurting. Thank you, Brad.

  70. I could only read up to the bullet/defect/small channel~~~~I am in those tears that choke you at a funeral, but not for hers and others suffering or any or normal thing I would expect tears for…It is the Holy Spirit speking SO LOUD and SO CLEAR of how AWESOME our G-D is…..As a 61 y/o intercessor you my dear Petra are on the top of my list…I love praying heaven to earth for a helpless souls miracle and watching the GLORY OF G-D shine…..Dear family of Petra, be assured you are gonna see the unbelievable for your lovely Petra…We serve a G-D that has a rep to protect….(went back to read the rest)= Th miracle takes a walk,:more tears then laughter…LOVE has won over hate and LIGHT has won over darkness and the best: they ALWAYS will…..Thank you JESUS!!!!!

  71. God has his ways and this was just one way that he can fortell the future before even we know. Everything happens for a reason and God did not want anyone knowing that Petra had this canal until it was the right time or they may have done something to close it off. Like I said God performs miracles everyday and this was just one of many that night.She is truly blessed and it this story should be a testament of how God works and how he can perform miracles even before we know what is going on.

    • For a god that can tell the future, he sure makes a lot of mistakes. (Had to flood the earth and kill everyone except one family, and have a do-over). And this is a god who is often surprised and angry when something happens…. yet he has had an eternity knowing it was going to happen? hmmm. We sin because we have free-will and knowledge. Will you have the same free will and knowledge in heaven? Will people sin there? If not, why did this all knowing god cause all this pain and suffering to begin with? No, your made up god is just to stupid to believe. If an earthly father treated his children this way, he would be in jail with a life sentence. He saves some, lets others die. If your children were in the street with a drunk driver approaching, would it be OK to save one and let the other die?

  72. Thank you so much for this story. It is refreshing to hear a positive story such as this one in the midst of such chaos.

  73. thank you for sharing this story – and yes it is a miracle of God. We ourselves may never know the purpose of this but God has His plan and Petra is a part of the plan. I will be praying for Petra and also Kim for His Hands to continue to heal Petra and also be near Kim at this time. I also thank you for the way you have explained to others that don’t always understand the why’s and how comes in this life and God’s plan. I pray that others will be drawn into the arms of our Lord and Savior Jesus through this tradegy.

  74. Amazing, but yes just like the REAL God to create options no one could have had without Him!

  75. How amazing is our God!! I’m speechless….God has a plan for Petra, He’s not finished with her yet!! Will be praying for a quick recovery.

  76. Thank you for what you wrote. There are many I plan to pass this on to. 🙂 Praise our Savior!

  77. Even though I agree that this story is amazing and the outcome was beautiful, I just have to say this.

    I think the reason everyone here wants to call this a miracle is that it seems like the chances of this outcome occurring are unbelievably small. If the shooter’s gun had been angled slightly different, or if her head had been tilted to the left or right to a small degree, or if any other number of factors had been just barely different – the result could have been disastrous. But it wasn’t, and it really seems like a miraculous thing.

    But what people don’t tend to think about is that she could just as easily have avoided being hit altogether. If she had been sitting in another part of the room, or even just another seat; if she had left the movie to use the restroom at that moment; if one of any number of things had caused her to not see the movie that night – would we be calling that a miracle?

    We can’t know anything for certain as human beings. Our limited perspective and understanding of the universe, our ignorance of the vast complexity of factors at play, causes us to look at situations like this in awe and ascribe them to God as “miracles.” We’ve done this throughout history. Our greatest thinkers have always encountered something on the edge of their understanding and labelled it “God” only to have it explained years, decades, or even centuries later. And yes, while our being able to explain it doesn’t mean God isn’t there, our lack of explanation doesn’t mean he is.

    Academics aside, it really is wonderful that it looks like she’ll be okay.

    TL;DR – the notion of a “miracle” happens because of our selective focus and lack of understanding. It’s a logical error; an issue of scope. To say that a supernatural being actively guided the outcome, while letting others die, is a whole other ball of wax.

    • True words, and a thoughtful perspective. As a pastor and a science nerd (odd), I am thankful for all who escaped, and grieve for those who did not. I don’t know why one makes it and another does not. Above my pay grade. I would pray that no one would ever get caught in such a killing-field. But, life happens. And as it happened, Petra is changed by the story and the events. As are those who were close by her. and some who read the blog. We are shaped by the events and outcomes of our lives, I think for evil or for good. Good here, I pray.

  78. Gods light shines even in the darkest hours! God bless This beautiful young women and all the victims and their families<3

  79. I am close (relatively speaking) to the shootings and far (relatively speaking) from God. A friend, who lives 1200 miles away, posted a link to your piece. Your heart is felt outright through your account. Glad I read.

  80. This is truly amazing. May God Bless her and her mother, and all the others affected by this. Pastor Brad, thank you for being an amazing man of God. You are truly amazing too.

  81. Thank you so much for sharing this. I intend to share this testimony in my message this Sunday, from Adelaide, Australia. Trusting this will highlight the amazing mysterious power that God exhibits. Turning disbelief into belief. I see the word ‘AMAZED’ used in the many responses – it is no coincidence that you see that some word used time and time again in Mark’s gospel. Jesus surely is amazing!

  82. Truly an inspirational story that needed to be told in the midst of this tragedy. God bless Petra , her family and her pastor for telling the story!

  83. We know there is a God we talk and
    Pray with him everyday it’s miracles
    like this that really make us believe
    Please know you are all in my thoughts
    and prayers.. I have goose bumps and
    please keep me posted on Petra’s
    Progress.. Love To All…

  84. And people say there is no God. Anyone that reads this story with an open mind will know od God’s existence and goodness. Please tell Kim to google Essiac Tea. It may help her with her cancer. It has helped many through the years. I get mine from Just Tea.com. has helped me

  85. To preface, I am extremely happy that Petra came out of this massacre better than a lot of people, but I can’t even begin to describe how perversely repulsive this blog post is. You, her pastor, Brad Strait, are exploiting her and her family just to let people know what a good guy you were for being there for her. How you were at the hospital for hours, just waiting for word on her condition. How you were involved in this tragedy, look at me everyone! I have a story about the shooting! l It’s been a hot minute Brad. Did you even think of asking her family, or her for that matter if you can post your version her story on the internet (I doubt it)? Even worse if you did. Her mother has terminal cancer and her child has just been shot in the brain. Asking that would have been the crudest, most insensitive, and self-serving thing to say. I’m glad God has sent me to this website so I can say my piece, and hopefully you will become enlightened on what not to do in future circumstances that are hopefully not as severe as this… God does work in mysterious ways, Brad.

    I doubt this comment will see the light of day because you won’t allow it, just as well. Its meant for you anyhow.

    • The family approached me to write this, after calling me to come sit with them early Friday morning. Firefighters, policeman, nurses, doctors, people who laid over others should be thanked. Most of the time, I just sat and listened. Your comment makes me wish I were better at communicating. It is not suppose to be about me, but simply from my perspective and recollection. I’m NOT claiming I did this all right, or even wrote the right blog. I wrote form my heart. I am just a pastor, not a miracle worker, writer, or theologian. Forgive me if I come across as proud. But I believe in this family, and in the God I follow. My goal is to honor them.

      • You didn’t come across proud or self important at all. Totally disagree with that angry comment.

      • As a pastor’s daughter I witnessed my father with a heavy heart over members of his churches and their hurts or tragedies. This is to say I personally saw how much he loved them all and felt grief with them! All of these people are his family! And he also rejoiced in their victories … sharing their testimonies and miracles with others to attest to God awesome workings. So as a pastor to this family I feel sure that you share this/their story with great rejoicing and LOVE! The tone of your post does not ( at least in my opinion ) come across as prideful or self serving! Thank you for sharing a sliver of God’s light in such a bleak and dark situation! And we should all continue to pray that the deciever would not have continued success in turning the focus of your post into false beliefs of the intent of it! Instead that God would touch the hearts and minds of those who read it! That they would have open hearts to this wonderful miracle and yet realize that rejoicing in this is NOT an ignorance of grief over those who lost loved ones. The greif for others CAN be felt simultaneously as awe that is felt in this miracle! One emotion doesn’t nullify the other! When a mother loses a twin baby at birth she obviously grieves the loss…yet doesn’t she also rejoice for the new birth of the surviving child? Does she not annouce the miracle of the living child yet this joyous announcement doesn’t mean she feels no grief. Sorry for my long rant. And may God bless your ministry for you seem to be a loving “Shepard”.

      • > not a miracle worker, writer, or theologian.

        I couldn’t agree more.

        Why are you writing about miracles and theology then?

    • Wow really? I do not see anything but glory to the creator in this post. Thank you brad for sharing it.

    • Mr. Strait, please do not be discouraged by Nikki’s bitterness. As someone who tends to be very skeptical of others, I did not get the impression that your intention was to boast about your actions. You were sharing a wonderful piece of testimony that just happened to go viral, and look at the good it has brought: Thousands of people are visiting your blog and reading this entry. Many are having their faith restored in God and humanity. Many have simply felt reaffirmed in the awe-inspiring power of God. Many non-believers are being led to ask questions and participate in rhetoric that may plant the seeds for their salvation. So do not doubt your judgement in sharing this story. By Nikki’s logic, even Petra and her mother should refrain from telling this testimony, as it might seem boastful.

  86. Thank you for sharing this beautiful, miraculous story with everyone. We know that God is always in the business of performing miracles and Petra’s story is definitely one of them. A story like this just further strengthens my faith that we serve a mighty God who is always present even during tragedies. Your community and Petra are in our thoughts and prayers from Dallas, Georgia. May God continue to bless you all..

  87. Why have we not heard about this on the news??? More inspiring stories like this one, please!!

    • The news is more concerned with the legal aspects including whether or not Holmes was mentally ill and the potential revisions to gun laws (and to be honest I think those things are much more important at this stage).

  88. Glory to God!! Thank you for sharing this miraculous story. God strengthen Petra ( which means Rock!) and her family. Praying for Kim too!!

  89. Thank you for sharing this amazing story. As a retired Christian physician, I can attest that God is still in control and that miracles still happen. In my 40 years of practice I have seen God work in mysterious ways and I would tell my patients that such things are not “luck” but of God’s handiwork. He has a purpose for each of us and He can do things that we cannot explain in human terms. Praise be to God for His wonderful care and love for each of us.

  90. This story brought tears to my eyes, We have an AWESOME GOD, and if show this family peace and favor. May God continue to bless this family.

  91. God is so amazing! Nothing suprises Him and He is always at work planning from the beginning of time! Wow! How can we not believe?!!!!

  92. Wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing! Please GOD keep taking care of Petra and her family. I dont have any money to donate because I cant keep up with my bills so please GOD help them find the funds they need for the surgeries. Thank you God. Amen.

  93. This is just very touching, it gave me goosebumps all over when I read it. How amazing is that, the Lord works in mysterious ways!! 🙂

  94. Miracles happen every day, you just have to be able to recognize them and when you do, be thankful for the incredible blessing. This is the kind of story that needs to be circulating the news, not the shooters name. God bless.

  95. I believe in miracles and I believe in God and this story confirms to the unbelievers that there is a merciful God and he does work miracles if you believe. God bless you and your family.

  96. G3….Give God Glory!!! He Is still in the miracle business! What a great story from such a terrible event!!!

  97. Amazing grace. Great witness. Thank-you for sharing. I am also sharing this.

  98. This is what the One True God can do! We only see the here and now, He see’s the full spectrum of life! What satan has intended for harm, the Lord will turn round for His good!

  99. So God could predict this atrocity, give one person a relevant “birth defect”, but allow over 50 others to get shot, and a dozen killed? I know this comment will be denounced or deleted, and its logic ignored, but how could a God so powerful to predict this event many years in the future, so accurately that He can insert a birth defect along the projectile of a bullet, but not save the lives of those that were killed?

    Yes, “God works in mysterious ways”. But It’s not that mysterious for the dead 6 year old child.

    • That dead 6 year old is in the arms of Jesus right now. How is that not saving her? As for the others, they are also in the arms of Jesus if they knew him- and I’m not here to say whether they did or didn’t… but if they did, they are now in the most beautiful paradise- so beautiful that it cannot be comprehended by the human mind! So, Petra may have been saved (divinely so) here on Earth… but the others were saved in a different way. He simply brought them home. Of course, it’s hard to see or understand that when you are blinded by “logic”.

  100. Hi Ps. Brad,

    I took a Leadership class with you at DenSem in the Summer of 2010. I have since returned home to Perth, Australia, and have watched from afar as this horror unfolded. I just wanted to let you know that there are people on the other side of the world who will be continuing to pray for Petra and her family, along with everyone else affected by this event. Thankyou for sharing this incredible story. God is truly good!
    Blessings to you all,

  101. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing story! Praying for everyone involved. And thanks for introducing me to “prevenient grace”. I just read James Van Praagh’s “Growing Up in Heaven: The Eternal Connection Between Parent & Child”, so I’m on a spiritual journey and I know all this prayer across our nation will help these victims & their families heal in time.

  102. Wow! What a testimony! God is so good! Here is a quote we all need…. Grace is God coming to you to do through you what you can not do by yourself! Amazing! Many blessings to you Petra and Kim! We pray Gods healing over each your bodies. You both are perfectly and wonderfully made! Blessings in abundance to your families in Aurora!

  103. To be entirely honest, this story is kind of offensive to me. What about the 12 (14?) people who died. Is that a miracle? NO, it is not. How do you see any miracle in this at all? Yes his gun jammed, but he still had three others.

    How do you see anything with a god in this? I honestly have no idea. It sickens me when people take a tragedy (like over 60 people getting shot) and saying “thank god for the survivors.”

    Don’t thank god, thank nothing! If a god did this and allowed it to happen, how do you see this as a kind god? You might say, oh it was out of his control, or something about free choice. However, this says that your god is NOT all powerful.

    In conclusion I would like to say the following things. STOP blaming people for disasters, it’s either all god (in terms of good and bad) or none of it is a god. Second, STOP saying god is good for sparing people. This makes you sound like it’s good that this happened because, hey, people survived.

    A very concerned citizen.

    • You may never read this, but I thought I’d respond to your comments, since many may share them.

      At a basic level, I’ll just ask: why do you think God is obligated to save us from tragedy? The fact that God is good does not mean that He is obligated to get rid of all evil in the world.

      You claim that if God gives people a choice, then He isn’t all powerful. I’m not sure how you can make this claim. In the very beginning, God gave people a choice: eat from this one tree or don’t. He made the consequences clear; if you eat from this one tree, you will die. God gave them the choice. Then, once they made their choice, God was true to His word: they were banished, and ultimately they died.

      This is how God operates. It’s how God has revealed Himself from the very beginning. He gives us choices, and whatever we choose, we suffer the consequences. God is good; as part of His goodness, He tells us how to live so that tragedies like this never occur. But we’re arrogant and selfish, as humans. We think we know better, so we live our lives and design our societies in such a way that God isn’t in charge, we are.

      Ultimately, the problems we face, including this tragedy, result from our disobedience to God. You might not think much of the commands in the Bible, but I promise you, if they had been followed, this tragedy wouldn’t have occurred. For one, the Bible forbids murder, but it also commands loving everyone, even if you don’t like them; it commands going out of your way to help others; it commands taking deranged people like the shooter and loving them before they have a chance to act out, helping them become productive members of society instead of monsters.

      If God told us from the beginning that actions have consequences, then told us exactly how to live so that tragedies like this would never occur, why are you mad at Him when His words are proven true? It is our choice, both as individuals and as a society, to rebel against God and ignore what He has said. We embrace a culture that is so selfish, we feel free to hurt other people for any number of reasons; we embrace a culture that glorifies violence (look at how many of our pastimes and entertainment options focus on it); we embrace a culture that profits in manufacturing and selling weapons; we embrace a culture so hypocritical that we slaughter millions of babies legally, yet react in rage when 12 adults face the same fate.

      It is not God’s fault that this tragedy happened. I’m not saying this tragedy was God’s judgement on us, not at all. I’m saying that if we had only listened to Him in the first place, it wouldn’t have occurred at all.

  104. As an ICU and a hospice nurse, I can truly confirm that this is AN INCREDIBLE MIRACLE! What a touching story and what a beautiful, blessed family. May Petra continue to be the miracle that she is and I hope that she can recover fully. Prayers and blessings to Petra and Kim both! Thanks for sharing this wonderful story! Love and prayers to all those affected by this horrid, unfortunate tragedy!

  105. How do you explain the way God allows misery to be spread so unevenly based primarily on geography. In other words, why would a kind omnipotent God allow people in Africa to live such lives of absolute starvation and famine and genocide while those born in western societies live relatively comfortably and the death of 12 people in a theater is newsworthy? How is this just?

    • Dear Eduardo,
      Just a thought, but the law of cause and effect, that we reap what we sow, may best explain your dilemma. Most all of African culture has rejected Christ and Christian principles for Mohammedanism and paganism and their destructive values. Although the Western world is rapidly pursuing that same path (to our eventual harm), we are still reaping the natural blessings resulting from the cultural heritage of our predominantly Christian forebearers.
      I’ll admit that’s changing. Africans are now responding to the Gospel of Jesus Christ at a record pace while many in America are abandoning the faith. The conditions you describe above may soon be reversed as Africans embrace the value of life and Christ’s righteousness and we, in turn, devalue innocent life and wise principles for living.

      Respectfully, Arnie

    • It’s a uniquely American obsession with violence, particularly when people like us are killed without any provocation.

      14 undocumented immigrants in Texas died horribly yesterday when a pickup truck crammed with 23 people lost control and slammed into a tree. These were good people just trying to find a meager way of providing for their families Mexico, looking for opportunity in the Land of Opportunity but instead finding a terrible end to their journey…much like the destitute of Africa.

      It’s literally yesterday’s news, I’m sure many may have felt they had it coming because of their “illegal” status.

  106. Ok, so first off, I’d like to ask, why did your “God” not save all of the people? Or better yet, why didn’t he smite the evildoer before he committed the crime? If “God” existed, wouldn’t he want to save all of them? Just a little food for thought.

  107. Just a note to thank you for posting this story and for demonstrating God’s provision in such an elegant and straight-forward way. I have shared this on my Facebook page, and I will continue to pray for Petra and the rest of the victims and their families. Our God is an awesome God!

  108. Thank you for documenting this miraculous story. I have shared it on my Facebook page and Twitter feed. The world needs to read this . . . to heal . . . to worship the One who created us for His glory.

  109. Your praising god because he choose to allow 12 people to die a horrible death, but he was kind enough to save one person from “paradise,” by making them endure having a piece of metal fly through their skull and then the permanent resulting challenges? And, no the “it’s all part of his plan,” or similar bullshit is not an answer. Either you a moron, or you enjoy worshiping a deity that is worse and more cruel than his evil counterpart. You think Hitler and Stalin are evil and have high death toll? They are nothing compared to the omnipotent asshole dictator you are worshiping for his kindness because he threatened to torture you for eternity if you didn’t. God is either a fairly tale from the iron ages, powerless, lazy, or more evil than Lucifer. Regardless of which one, why worship him?

  110. Thank you for sharing this story! God’s sovereignty is a quite a thing to behold. Our church is thinking and praying for those involved, and their loved ones.

  111. OK, I really do not want to sound skeptical about God, however, Most Christians I talk to always say that God is in control of all things. But when something bad like this happens all of a sudden its evil that is in control and God had nothing to do with this. You can not have it both ways He is either in control or He is not…if He is then he should be blamed for this massacre . Don’t get upset with me just help me understand and not with all that religious crap.

    • Welcome, skeptic. Maybe this will not help, but let me try. Key: the ability to control does not mandate nor imply the action of control. Ask any parent of teenagers. At a reasonable age, I give my daughters the car keys. I don’t have to, but I know that freedom to choose is one component of human growth. God, for me, knows all things and can control every detail. But often, for his own reasons, he allows humanity to do what we choose, even horrible things. And then I think he brings good, even out of evil. This does not make the evil causal to the good, only an opportunity or potentiality for good.

      • Brad, I truly appreciate your response to Pete’s question, but even more than your response, I love his vulnerability in being willing to ask the question even when he anticipates being jumped on by us wily “protectors” of all things sacred. 🙂

        If I may, let me also add to the conversation – even though I wasn’t asked – that God ‘writing’ the guidelines for successful living (the Scriptures), doesn’t suggest that he forcefully requires or mandates that every person must live by it. Though it’s true that Jesus paid the penalty for sin, we are free to choose between good and evil.

        If, as Peter suggests above, God is in control in a way that eliminates freewill choice, then it makes nonsense of choice, and relegates us all to being mannequins on a cosmic string, simply ‘dancing’ to whatever tune He dictates. This simple fact, were it true, would automatically negate the existence of love. For love to exist, there must be freewill, so that people can actually choose to love (otherwise it wouldn’t be love without the ability to choose it).

    • While there are some people who believe that God controls every little thing, most Christians believe that though he can, he chooses not to.

      So, how to explain this without any religious trappings? I can do many things that I don’t do. I can set my alarm to wake up at 4AM or I can set it to 8AM. Does either choice mean that I “can’t” choose to do the other? Not at all. Does that help?

  112. Brad, thank you so much for sharing this! Your personal and moving account of Petra’s story is undoubtedly “beauty from ashes” in the midst of the heavy darkness that our nation has experienced over these past few days. Certainly, the God we serve grieves deeply along with the hearts of men at this tragedy–an act born of sin and selfishness, and most undoubtedly, a terrible kind of personal pain. I believe that God, being redemptive and holy and utterly good, stands in the gap in moments like this to bring healing and wholeness to people in unexpected and beautiful ways. Clearly, He is doing so through Petra, and through people like you who are willing to share His power at work amidst unimaginable suffering.

    My prayer is that this and other miracles will touch the lives of many who have otherwise been closed off to the idea of Christ as a loving, attentive, and perfect Savior. God did not abandon those who lost their lives on Friday. I imagine him welcoming each, most lovingly, into the fold of His peace. Blessings to you, Petra, Kim, and all of the victims and their families in this healing season.

  113. I wish you had a place to send this by email. It is on Facebook and my computer won’t forward from there or at least I do not know how. I have bookmarked it. I will post again after I can read all of this. Have trouble with my eyes.

  114. This is amazing. God works wonders. Thank you so much for posting. Every time my faith starts to falter, I read of something like this and am reminded of the miracles he performs. God bless everyone going through this and my prayers are with everyone. Petra’s story is truly a miracle.

  115. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. Hope comes even in the face of tragedy and loss. I will be glad to pray for her continued healing, along with others who are recovering. Our prayers are also offered for the families who grieve over their loved ones who did not survive. It is difficult to understand the evil that enters a mind to choose to do such harm. Yet, there is hope to hear of such stories, and other acts of heroism and love in the face of harm.

  116. Praise Jesus!! Thank you so much for sharing this. I am a Salvation Army Officer stationed as the Chaplain in all the social services programs in Peoria, Illinois. Since I first heard about this horrible incident while driving home from Detroit on Friday – my prayer has been “Jesus – I know you are in all things – please show up & show off” Never, ever, would have thought of his planning 22 years ago – when Petra was “fearfully & wonderfully made” and He waited until the perfect time to show His majesty. As I write this the tears are rolling – thank you so very much for sharing this miracle. Will be praying for Petra and her continued healing. Am now a follower of your blog. DonnaMarie

  117. Brad,

    The Bible clearly states that God is in control of both good and evil. I don’t know whether you are making up a new God or not, but you would have to ignore most of your Bible to deny the Christian one is powerful over all. The book of Job clearly states “Are we to accept the good from God and not the evil”? It seems that you are trying to do this yourself.

    • Blake: Humbly, my goal is not to make this post an argument about the finer points of theology. It is a pastor’s story about God’s goodness, and about one family in God’s Hand. Simply put, I believe that nothing happens in this Universe without God permitting it (both as First Cause, and as Sustainer). But, for me, this does not make God the cause of evil, nor the author of evil, nor the one who is “controlling” evil people. Depravity and free will take care of that. Clearly, God is God and I am not–I accept all the results he chooses to fulfill, good or bad, and the freedom he chooses to allow for humanity to act wrongly.

      • The biggest gift God has given each one of us, is free agency. He is not going to strong-arm us into the goodness he wants for us. We are all born with the light of Christ. We have the ability to know right from wrong, good from evil. We hopefully have family that teaches us this in our youth. However, we can control no one but ourselves. God gives us free agency, and let’s us make the decision whether to do good, or evil with our lives. That is the only way he can determine who will come back home to him. We are all Christ sheep, and he knows each of us by name. He is our shepherd. He wants us ALL to come back….but he leaves that up to us. Could God control everything in the world? Of course he could. How could we understand good, if there was no evil? He is not going to stop it. He is there for each of us, and stands at the door, knocking. It is up to us whether we answer the door or not.

  118. For some reason, God didn’t give us answers to all the ‘Whys?’ He sent Jesus to join us in our sufferings.

  119. Thank you for sharing and for your thoughtful, patient replies to those in need of such. Blessings to all in need.

  120. I love this story 🙂 And feel in my heart a need to tell a small bit to those people who are restless over the other deaths. My son was born with his inside everything on his outside, I found a support group… A very Christian support group, the founder’s son died at 3 months of age. She went from being alone in her grief of her lost son to now being a leader of an international very well known, and well used, support group for other families suffering in their success, their struggles, and even their loss. I am talking tens of thousands of people in my same situation. You will never hear her slander God but you will always hear her praise him, yes, praise him, for the loss of her first born son because she knows deep inside that there is more for her here and more for him there then what meets the eyes. Is she hurt? yes. Heartbroken? Absolutely, but all will be revealed in due time, just as Petra’s has been revealed in due time… and I’m sure many other stories will be as well. I will keep praying for Petra and will of course, request prayers from this support group as well! Wonderful God we have!

  121. How about plain luck and skillful doctors. Do you ever stop to think, maybe there is no god..

    • I believe in God who created all kinds of intelligences that make up one body. Modern technology and skillful doctors point me to something skillful/intelligent/all powerful Creator of all things good 🙂

    • Well Kent, something governs this mismosh of life & wonder around us. If not God then who or what? And if you can answer that, then “who” or “what” governs that? Yes the doctors are skilled, but for a tumbling bullet from an automatic rifle to enter at just the right angle to follow the line of a “straw” without losing fragments or causing any other damage as it slowed ….well even an unbeliever such as yourself, has to admit that is miraculous

  122. The answer to suffering is a Person, Jesus, who suffered more then all of us combined. He knows how to meet us in our suffering and we need to let Him.

    It’s hard to understand the WHY’S of this world. Our pastor preached a message that made so much sense and helped me wrap my brain around why we have so much suffering in this world.

    Would encourage you to listen at http://www.gracechapel.net.

    Thank you for sharing a miracle story with us!

    • Yes Melissa And a message so powerful from a man who has personally experienced tragic loss.

  123. The most common name used in this world for Jesus, and Gods Grace is Lucky!

  124. This is definitely an amazing story but I’m am not surprised that god stepped in to spare this person’s life cause there are too many impossible stories like this that it would be next to impossible to be a coincidence without god stepping up to the plate…. This is another example that god puts some people through trials to live and tell the story to others so we come closer to him or getting people to be convinced to accept Christ that his only son Jesus Christ died for our sins so we could have eternal life instead of being tormented in hell for eternity… Being tortured by demons in sulfur smoke thirsting for water being torn apart again and again going back together feeling every bit of the pain is not my way of eternal life… Oh, in Hell you have no strength either, its too hot and painful cause your already sick of the rotten stench and sulfur making you sick… Besides, strength comes from god not the devil, so don’t think your going to fight the demons in hell without any defense your stripped of.. God can’t be help you in Hell either, cause your separated from him like some want in this world.. But a world without god would be the same as hell… So let’s ask the lord into our life’s now before its too late when your looking at your dead body in the hospital realizing oh no its too late waiting to be casted in to the fire… God bless all the victims that got hurt or that died and moved on to a better world of the Aurora pointless evil tragedy…

  125. Thank you for helping this family share their story. I pray those with more than sufficient for their own needs will chip in to help this family!

  126. “The story of Jesus standing before the tomb of Lazarus is an endless source of insight for me. As he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus was not smiling. He was angry. He was weeping. Why? Because death is a bad thing! Jesus wasn’t thinking, ‘They think that this is a tragedy, but no harm done! I’m about to raise him from the dead. This looks like a bad thing, but it’s not. It’s really a good thing! It’s a way for me to show my glory. It’s really exciting! I can’t wait!’ He wasn’t thinking that. Jesus was weeping at the tomb, because the bad thing he’s about to work for good is bad. The story of Lazarus does not give you a saccharine view of suffering, saying bad things are really blessings in disguise or that every cloud has a silver lining. The Bible never says anything like that! God will give bad things good effects in your life, but they’re still bad. Jesus Christ’s anger at the tomb of Lazarus proves that he hates death. He also hates loneliness, alienation, pain, and suffering. Jesus hates it all so much that he was willing to come into this world and experience it all himself, so that eventually he could destroy it without destroying us.
    There’s no saccharine view in the Christian faith. The promise is not that if you love God, good things will happen in your life. The promise is not that if you love God, the bad things really aren’t bad; they’re really good things. The promise is that God will take the bad things, and he’ll work them for good in the totality.” – Joy Keller

  127. Such a great story, and as a skeptical agnostic leaning towards Atheist, even I can appreciate the oddity of her having an abnormality in her brain for which the bullet can so smoothly travel. However, I often do wonder God’s motives, if he does exist. I do think we must suffer at times in order to understand true compassion. Far too often I see people who say they are compassionate, but being a person with a disability, I can attest to the reality that most people are anything but compassionate. I often wonder why, if he is real, God would bring me here with a birth defect/disability that made me so ugly, and what am I supposed to learn by seeing how cruel people are to an ugly girl. Perhaps we are to learn something, but sometimes I wish God could be more helpful in understanding what it is we are supposed to be learning. Am I supposed to be learning to be humble after spending a previous life being incredibly vain and selfish? Are the family members of those lost in this tragedy supposed to learn to not take those around us for granted? Often times I think that my birth defect is God’s cruel practical joke upon me simply because I can’t find a purpose in being born the way I was, and getting treated the way I am often treated by those oh so “compassionate people” in this world. If God does exist, he has left us far too long without guidance. He can not simply slam us with nasty things like birth defect, disabilities, illnesses, and random killings without helping us to see the purpose in such pain.

    P.S. Sorry if this posted a few times, kept getting an error message.

    • I wish you were in my office, Rain. I would like to meet you. I’m sure you have many stories to tell, and a great perspective on suffering. I SO, SO value that! No easy answers, I’m afraid. One thought: Christianity is the one faith system I know of where God is rejected, suffers, and dies. I believe Jesus understands your pain better than anyone else. And I think he cries for your loneliness. And he know what is like to be despised by people he meets, and even hated. Yet, somehow, he is able to respond in love. A lesson for us all. God bless you!

  128. “The story of Jesus standing before the tomb of Lazarus is an endless source of insight for me. As he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus was not smiling. He was angry. He was weeping. Why? Because death is a bad thing! Jesus wasn’t thinking, ‘They think that this is a tragedy, but no harm done! I’m about to raise him from the dead. This looks like a bad thing, but it’s not. It’s really a good thing! It’s a way for me to show my glory. It’s really exciting! I can’t wait!’ He wasn’t thinking that. Jesus was weeping at the tomb, because the bad thing he’s about to work for good is bad. The story of Lazarus does not give you a saccharine view of suffering, saying bad things are really blessings in disguise or that every cloud has a silver lining. The Bible never says anything like that! God will give bad things good effects in your life, but they’re still bad. Jesus Christ’s anger at the tomb of Lazarus proves that he hates death. He also hates loneliness, alienation, pain, and suffering. Jesus hates it all so much that he was willing to come into this world and experience it all himself, so that eventually he could destroy it without destroying us.
    There’s no saccharine view in the Christian faith. The promise is not that if you love God, good things will happen in your life. The promise is not that if you love God, the bad things really aren’t bad; they’re really good things. The promise is that God will take the bad things, and he’ll work them for good in the totality.” – Joy Keller

  129. Thanks so much for sharing this story…it should be on main stream media…but we usually don’t get the ones THIS GOOD there! What a great job you did, Pastor, in writing it. I am sending it out through my Facebook personal page and my FB Prayer Page called 2 Chron 714 Network! As horrible as this shooting was…God is getting MUCH glory from it…and will yet in the days to come! Incident has show the worst in people…but also the BEST in the beautiful creation God created in mankind! So many heroes, so much reaching out and love! So to a “fellow Word Press blogger”, I thank God for you and your serving of Him and His people. Will be keeping up with you and check out Lifestreams Flow and the prayer page on FB if you are on that medium. OUR GOD REIGNS!!!!!

  130. >Funny how your god knew this event was going to take place and instead of stopping it, he chooses one victim for some unknown reason and places a tube in her brain so that the bullet will pass. Then for some other reason he allows 12 other innocent people to die. The best you could ascertain from this outcome is that your god is a mysterious and unfair lunatic. It’s is completely asinine to admit that your god knew of the tragedy ahead of time, didn’t stop it, and is somehow “good”. Your god has left the families of the 12 others in indescribable pain and left to wonder, “Why didn’t he choose my child, brother, mom, aunt etc. to escape death like he did for this girl?” Your blog post is disrespecting the other victims by insinuating that they weren’t good enough for god to save. I’m just happy that Petra survived and that science was able to help. Science undoubtedly saved many of the other wounded victims from dying, while your god did nothing.


  131. Brad,
    I did not read all of the postings here but, enough that I’d like to weigh in a little, on God’s side.
    God created this world perfectly. There was no evil, darkness, hatred, envy nor any other blemish in His creation. It was man’s choice that brought all of those things into the world. God is so faithful to His word that once He gave the dominion of His perfect world to His most precious creation, He no longer is free to simply choose to intervene in the affairs of the earth. Not that He isn’t powerful enough or that He doesn’t care, He simply cannot break His Word and by His Word man was given dominion and authority here. When man abdicated this authority, God still could not choose to intervene without strict attention to His Word. God cannot lie. This simple fact, I think, shows His great Love for us in that He chose to send Jesus in the form of humanity. Becoming human gave Him the right to redeem that authority. He also gave us prayer. Simple prayer gives God the route to intervene. He made it so easy that a simple prayer uttered by a mother over her child, perhaps once it has long been forgotten, remains a prayer that He has heard and a route for Him to move on our behalf. Until we come to a real understanding of what redemption has truly done, we will continue to fumble through life, bumping across the occasional miracle and being tongue tied when it comes to explaining the ‘whys’ to the world.

  132. As I read this, one song came to mind by Chris Tomlin…

    Indescribable, uncontainable,
    You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
    You are amazing God
    All powerful, untameable,
    Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
    You are amazing God

  133. Satan is wreaking havoc in our world. He tries to get his foothold in our world and tear it, and us, apart, person by person. He invades our minds and tries to declare our souls, so precious to Christ, as his. And as much chaos and hurt and disaster as he causes, he is NO match for our God. Maybe some of the people that died were called home to their Lord for a reason that is beyond our comprehension. Maybe he had better things of a celestial nature than the things they would experience in mortality. Maybe they had proved enough here, at this time, and He called them home to his Glory. But apparently He wasn’t done with Petra. Maybe there is work here he wants her to experience that will help someone He has in mind, along the way. Who’s to say? But I do believe in miracles. And the fact that the buckshot entered through her nose into this little “stream of fluid” if you will, is no small chance. God is alive and well, and every day His hand works miracles we may be unaware of. Everyday he holds this universe together by His genius. Every day a child is born. Satan is no match for our God. Evil will never triumph over good in the eternities. And the people he calls home may be his angels on a mission to watch over those that they love. Or to teach others or serve God in ways that only He knows in his Heaven. And as a closing comment to Kent, who posted above: Do I ever think it’s plain luck, and that there is no God? No Kent, not for a split second do I believe that. I’ve had God in my life for a long time. He has answered prayers in a very personal way to me. I have felt his mercy in my life, when I was so in need of it. In times of heartbreak and chaos in my life, I have called upon Christ to please give me the peace that he offers in scripture….and he has. This is something so powerful, so overwhelming, that it’s undeniable. I am so grateful to God everyday for what He does for me and for those I love. If you have not experienced this, it’s a shortage on your end (as it is always on our end-never God’s. He is always right there. He’s promised in scripture to never leave you nor forsake you.) Hearing this story of Petra is no small “coincidence.” It is a miracle, given at the hands of God. I am so happy for her, and for the family that loves her. My heart is broken for all the families that lost loved ones in this senseless tragedy. I pray for their comfort and eventual healing. I hope they will find ways to magnify those loved ones that were lost-through a good cause in their loved ones name, or whatever. I believe the media focus needs to be on these people, and who they were.

  134. Dear Brother Brad,

    Even though I’ve received CISM and OFSA training in my work as a volunteer disaster relief chaplain and as a volunteer law enforcement chaplain, and I should be able to verbalize what I’m thinking and feeling fairly easily, your post about what God’s doing in Miss Petra’s life and in the lives of so many others who were victimized at the movies in Aurora, CO last week leaves me unable to articulate.

    THANK YOU for the post that you left on 22 July 2012 about Petra! Thank you for the posts that you left on 23 July 2012 for Anonymous, Bob, Dave, Eduardo, Kent, Mark, Marisa, Mike, Mike K, Nikki, No, Obligatory, Oswald, Pete, Rachel, Randy, Richard, Rick, TJ, and This! It’s obvious that you have a very mature and well-developed understanding of what the Word of God teaches us about ourselves and our world!

    Our church and my heart grieves for the people in the Denver Metro area! In addition to having murders committed in Columbine years ago, and having murders in three Denver area Christian churches over the last several years, now you have murders in a movie theater!

    May I offer a word that might help with some of the very good questions that are being posed by those who seem to be atheist and/or agnostic?

    There’s a major mistake in the theology of some Christians, a mistake that’s exposed every time something like this happens. The mistake is made by assuming somehow that God is responsible for every single little thing that occurs on Earth both good and bad. This assumption isn’t a biblical teaching. The Bible very openly teaches that God is NOT the author of evil; that God is NOT the creator of confusion; and that God IS capricious in deciding what should happen to whom. Nothing could be further from the truth!

    An assumption is made that God somehow is responsible for delivering cancer to some and not to others, to delivering birth defects to some and not to others, to delivering trauma to some but not to others. This kind of thinking isn’t taught in the Bible.

    Just because the Bible teaches that God is omnipotent and knows about everything, both past, present, and future, does NOT mean that God causes everything, both past, present, and future. There’s a huge difference between knowing and causing. I knew when both of my daughters turned 3-years-old that they were going to begin to exercise the power of the word “no.” And they exercised that power vigorously! Did my knowing that both of them would choose to do this when each one of them became 3-years-old? Yes! Did I make them choose to push agreed-upon-ahead-of-time boundaries? No! 🙂

    For whatever reason, God has chosen to create humankind Himself, has chosen to create humankind in some of His image (not His complete image), and has chosen to provide a way for all humankind who will believe Him that Jesus Christ will do something for the individual that the individual can’t do for his or her own self: Make he or she completely pure in God’s eyes. Because of the way that God has chosen to create persons, each one of us has the freedom to choose. Creating human beings in any other way would have produced robots, not free moral agents. 🙂

    Part of human beings being created in somewhat of Gods image (not His complete image) means that human beings have a will to control and utilize. The Bible also teaches that each person will answer to God and God alone for his or her own individual choices based on the purity of the standard of attitudes, speech, and behavior that God reveals to mankind in the Bible, NOT on their own personal sense of values.

    So while God certainly knows all that has happened, is happening, and will happen, He has chosen not to intervene in order that human beings are free to exercise their own respective will freely, a thought that is different from the way some Christ-followers think.

    Many of the bad things that happen to people are accidental. There is no blame. People who suffer from accidents are simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. See Luke 13:4 and John 9:1-3

    Many of the bad things that happen to people are brought on as a consequence/result of their own choices. Smokers have a higher rate incidence of lung cancer than non-smokers because of their choice to smoke. See Galatians 6:7-10

    The entire book of Job teaches that bad things happen to good people. Being a God-follower doesn’t immunize one from hurting, being abused, and/or suffering.

    Romans 8:28 and other passages in the Bible DO teach that when something bad happens, as a result of accident or as a result of poor choices, God WILL step in when asked and make lemonade out of lemons!

    Thank you, Reverend Brad, for delivering your thoughts in such a Christ-like way! Is there any way for me to post your original thoughts about Miss Petra on my Face Book page?


    Jim O’Dillon
    Associate Pastor
    Cullman, AL 1st Baptist Church
    501 Second Avenue SW
    Cullman, AL, 35055-4108

  135. Thank you for sharing this beautiful and challenging story!

    For those questioning or offended regarding this story, I challenge you on your own time to question the God of Abraham, or even question his existence. Question his goodness. Call out to him, and ask him to show himself to you….keep asking. Call it scientific exploration if you will. Maybe he doesn’t answer you, but what if HE does?

  136. Touching story. But I fail to see how we can so easily attribute such an act to god simply because someone pulled through an incredibly difficult circumstance. It’s seems as though your playing on people’s emotions to advance a religious belief that is not much different than the guesswork written about in the bible. Things aren’t much different these days….people are so easy to give a god credit while ignoring the less fortunate ones and writing the rest off as the ‘sovereignty of god’.

    It’s sad how so many in the religious profession capitolized on tragedy in order to advance their own kingdoms. While I’m grateful for the success of this person, I’m overwhelmingly disgusted with the religious groups that so jump on the god bandwagon when good happens, as if to further promote their religious agenda, under the guise of ‘glorifying god’.

  137. Those of you raising questions about why God has let the evil of this tragedy happen, and the 12 people killed…here is a fictional conversation that my be a thought provoking alternative to those turning away from any references to what The bible has to say. Many of you have probably heard or read this before, and though Einstein is falsely to have been said to be the arguing student in the conversation, I believe it speaks a small truth to the presence of evil in this world, and can maybe give a little understanding on the matter….

    The university professor challenged his students with this question. Did God create everything that exists?
    A student bravely replied yes, he did!”
    “God created everything?” The professor asked.
    “Yes, sir,” the student replied.
    The professor answered, “If God created everything, then God created evil since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are then God is evil.”
    The student became quiet before such an answer.

    The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

    Another student raised his hand and said, “Can I ask you a question professor?” “Of course”, replied the professor. The student stood up and asked, “Professor, does cold exist?”

    “What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?” The students snickered at the young man’s question.

    The young man replied, “In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Everybody and every object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (- 460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have too little heat.

    The student continued. “Professor, does darkness exist?”

    The professor responded, “Of course it does”.

    The student replied, “Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton’s prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn’t this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present.”

    Finally the young man asked the professor. “Sir, does evil exist?”

    Now uncertain, the professor responded, “Of course as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. “These manifestations are nothing else but evil.”

    To this the student replied, “Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love, that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.”

    The professor sat down.

  138. Dear Mr. Strait.

    You seem to be close to the family, so please send them this message from the University of Maryland Graduate Student Goverment.

    Dear family of Petra Anderson,

    Our thoughts are with you all through this difficult time that you are facing. We have you all in our thoughts, and we wish Petra a speedy recovery.  We are glad to hear that she is doing well given the circumstances and we hope to see her join us at the University of Maryland once she is ready to do so. 


    David Colón-Cabrera

  139. What a beautiful story Brad! Our family sends prayers for all involved. I pray Petra gets to spend many more beautiful moments with her mother Kim. Miracles do happen!

  140. This totally validates the scripture that says God knits our bones while we were in our mother’s womb! Such a beautiful testimony to the creative miracle of God & how He truly knows our days.
    Thanks for sharing!

  141. Reblogged this on Geneva and commented:
    This totally validates the scripture that says God knits our bones while we were in our mother’s womb! Such a beautiful testimony to the creative miracle of God & how He truly knows our days.

  142. There’s a lot of debate here. For my Christian brothers and sisters remember these words from the bible: 1 Peter 3:15-16 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with GENTLENESS AND RESPECT (Emphasis is mine), keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

  143. I had never posted a comment on a blog or any other Internet site. But after reading many,many comments, I’ve decided I need to. I want to speak to both sides. I am a Christian, and trust Jesus to save me, but I also struggle with the same questions raised here. To those who have spoken their minds respectfully, I thank you! To those who have been harsher I say that you aren’t accomplishing anything. No one (on earth) can answer these questions….. Believing in God requires faith….. If it could be scientifically proven beyond a doubt, there wouldn’t be atheists, right? But to be fair, while good things (miracles for example) may point to the existence God, the vast amount of human suffering raises doubt. I think those doubts are reasonable. Especially when God is portrayed as all seeing, all knowing, all powerful AND loving, gracious, merciful. I find it difficult to reconcil the notion of a loving, merciful, father God with a God who made a person knowing that person would cause so much suffering to others. Even pastors are at a loss to explain it beyond “God has a plan, we just cant see the big picture”. Which is not a satisfying answer. Be understanding to those who question. Don’t let it upset you, or ruffle your faith, but don’t expect the standard cliches to answer the question either. As for those who claim to be atheists who seem to be angry about not getting a good enough answer, I have two things: are you REALLY atheists or are you trying to believe in God, but frustrated because He is choosing to be mysterious, and thus doesn’t make sense? If you are truly an atheist, then I would agree with whoever said (paraphrasing, sorry) that in the absence of God it is all the more vital for humans to help/support/ show kindness to each other! But how (if you aren’t looking for answers) does questioning (and in some cases criticizing) other people’s faith help anyone? Even if, for the sake of argument, you are correct and there is no God, how would being negative about something that is giving people hope and peace being helpful? If believing God engineered this girl’s brain differently to show us a miracle is helping some have peace in the face of incomprehensible tragedy, why try to take that away? It certainly isn’t hurting anyone. And what’s more, if you really do not believe in God at all, why does it matter enough to you that others do to even waste your time to leave a comment? Again, I’m not trying to attack either side.

  144. Miracles do happen…and there are no dead unbelievers. Once you die…you know that there is a God. Whether you go to heaven or hell. The Word says that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess…
    PS thank you Pastor Brad for sharing your story

  145. Dear friends; particularly my Christian friends.

    Please recognize that as this post is viral there will be a widely varied response to it. Please recognize that whether it is personal pain from losing someone they know or a more abstract, but very real pain of wrestling with the chasm of broken-ness of our world, there are going to be many people posting, out of various worldviews, asking how it can be good news when one is saved in this miraculous way, and many others die.

    I ask you to bear these things in mind, because it is SO important to remember that what these people are posting is not an intellectual attack on your faith. Even a sarcastically worded, “what kind of God is that?” is more likely posted out of the pain of reconciling unspeakable tragedy with the goodness of God.

    They don’t need intellectual debate, or condescending judgement, or defensive verbatim. It’s compassion… and honesty.

    God is big enough for us to admit that we don’t have it all figured out.

    At the end of the day, when my daughter was miraculously born after half a dozen of my children never made it through from conception to birth–and my daughter’s birth was a medical miracle..
    The fact that I had lost so many children didn’t become any less painful. I didn’t suddenly have understanding why God would allow that to happen.
    But it doesn’t in any way diminish the worship and celebration i have that my daughter was born and is healthy against all odds!

    Yes… that so many died is a horrendous tragedy. I don’t want to diminish that in the least, just as i believe the author is not diminishing it in the least.

    However i do believe it is worth celebrating that there is hope in the midst of agony…
    And that hope is this : There is a God who allows free choice, and in that freedom many will choose evil. But our God does NOT allow evil to triumph. Even within the darkness of an evil victory, He sprinkles the seeds of hope and the light of miracles.
    May comfort be found in that fact!

  146. “In Christianity we call it prevenient grace: God working ahead of time for a particular event in the future. It’s just like the God I follow to plan the route of a bullet through a brain long before Batman ever rises. Twenty-two years before.”

    I would like people to take a look at this opinion Brad has offered from another view. From this opinion God witnessed the following. He watched the gunman buy guns over the course of a few months, knowing they were to be used to kill 12 people and injure over 50 more. He watched the gunman put on body armor, pack up his guns, and drive to the theater.

    Simultaneously he watches men and women gather themselves and their children and head excitedly to the theater. He watched them get their popcorn and sit down. He watched the gunman arm and dispense tear gas into the theater…and he watched him wait for his confused victims to run in terror from the theater.

    Then he watched as the gunman leveled his weapons and shot round after round after round after round after round after round after round after round into the flesh of innocent, confused, terrorized people who he claims to love and protect. Hot shells were falling to the ground as screaming, bleeding people suffered and died. He watch bullets leave the end of a weapon and enter the flesh of a 6 year old girl’s flesh, ending her life, knowing the misery her family would feel. He would have known the horror this girl was to experience just before having her life snuffed out.

    During this horrific event, he took the time to perform a miracle. This miracle involved allowing the shotgun pellets that had left the end of the gunman’s weapon and correspondingly enter Petra’s face through her nose and into her brain, but preventing those pellets from killing her. Instead of dying, she was allowed to simply suffer an excruciating amount of pain and long recovery that is to our knowledge in not guaranteed to allow her a full recovery.

    This is a miracle? It seems the days of turning water to wine, parting the seas, and bringing the dead back to life are the old days of miracles. No. This was not a miracle. This was an orchestrated act of violence by a sociopath that was attempting to deliver the greatest amount of suffering possible in the shortest amount of time. He succeeded.
    God does not get a pass here. This is not something we would see as a joyful event. We are glad some people beat the odds and managed to survive. But a real miracle would have been 70 misfires. Or 200 bullets fanned into the crowd with no injuries. Or simply a revelation to someone in a position of power to STOP THE GUNMAN BEFORE HE OPENED FIRE!

    It’s a slap in the face of the dead to call this a miracle. If this IS a miracle…it is a pitiful God you worship.

    My apologies to those I offend. But I felt this must be said.

  147. Petra means “rock”… I’ll say! God made her the “rock” in this case!

  148. Everyone can sit and debate about whether there is or isn’t a God until we’re all blue in the face. The fact is, we believers cannot offer any of you who do not believe the “proof” of His existence you’re asking for. With all due respect, however, may I ask all the unbelievers one question? Why not believe?

    Why not believe there is a God that we can all turn to when tragedy happens? Why not believe there is One who will listen as we pour our hearts out in grief to Him? Why not believe there is a paradise that awaits all believers after our time on Earth is done? Why not believe we will be reunited with those who have gone on before us? Why not believe that there is One who knows our every need and has a plan for each and every one of us? Why not believe that we have a Father who loved us enough to send His only Son to die on a cross so that we can have eternal salvation? Is it not comforting to know that we have someone we can turn to in our darkest hours? Is it not comforting to know that we’ll see our loved ones again some day? Is it not comforting to know that even though we make mistakes in life that we have someone who is forgiving and loves us unconditionally? What is there to lose by believing? The way I see it, I may be wrong about everything and there might not be a God, but am I sacrificing anything by having faith and believing in my God? Very simply, the answer is no!

    Yes, the poor 12 who died suffered terrible fates, and did not deserve what happened to them. But God did not “choose” those 12 over any of the other hundreds who were in that theater that morning; their time and journey on Earth was finished and it was their time to meet their Maker. We all have an appointed time when we will breathe our last breath, and for those 12 it happened to be the morning of July 20. That being said, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with what happened to them, and God knows that. He knows that our hearts are heavy and that there are many people who are hurting and enduring tremendous grief. But He endured that same grief when He watched His beloved Son being crucified for OUR sins! He knows our pain and suffering because He has experienced it as well! God never promised that our path in life would be easy, nor did He ever promise us tomorrow. That is why we all have to be ready and prepared before we breathe our last breath.

    I sincerely hope that my words do not offend anyone, because that is not my intention at all! I only hope that everyone who does not believe will think about what I’ve said and ask themselves–Why not believe?

    If there is anyone who would like to know more about why I believe, I would be more than happy to share my testimony with you. All you have to do is ask.

  149. It’s great to hear stories of survival like this. It’s even better to have no tragedies like this. It’s too easy to buy guns in this country. We need our leaders to stop pandering to the NRA and gun zealots and enact laws that prevent the mentally ill and those on terror watch lists from getting assault weapons, at the VERY least. Why are these even sold to civilians in the first place? It’s asinine. I might even start believing in miracles if stricter gun laws come to pass.

    Anyway, I’m glad Petra is alive and recovering. She is lucky to have a great support system and skilled doctors and nurses. I’m sure she’ll see them as her heroes. Thanks for sharing this story Brad.

  150. I’ve always said that a Miracle is a coincidence in which GOD ALMIGHTY chooses to remain anonymous. There is no luck or chance involved–God is Soveriegn and in control of everything, whether we understand it or not, doesn’t matter.

  151. No one yet has been able to successfully explain creation aside from its being done by God. Nothing yields nothing. The Big Bang starts with SOMETHING. Where did that something come from? No matter how you try to back up and get to the BEGINNING, nothing fits but God, because nothing can come from nothing. And that “something” has to be created. GOD is the only answer, and the rest follows suit. Oh, and there is no such thing as “luck”.

  152. […] incident. Nothing said or written will ever make what happened that day any less devastating but this is a pretty incredible story that I read about […]

  153. […] by a fluid pocket.  We have since learned that the fluid pockets are not as rare as it was first reported.  What is exceptional, is that the bullet entered at the exact point of Petra’s fluid […]

  154. […] At Columbine, I have seen this before. But not up close.  As a church pastor in Denver, I have worked as a chaplain alongside several police and fire departments. I was privileged to counsel parents just hours after the Littleton Columbine shootings. However, in this new tragedy at the Aurora Theater Dark Night shooting, one of the victims was a 22 year old woman from my church… Click here to read full story […]

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