Since yesterday's shootings on the Virginia Tech campus, thousands of e-mails and messages from concerned "Good Morning America" viewers have been pouring into ABCNEWS.com.
Pastor Jim Pace, who is counseling students at the college, answered some of those viewer questions in an emotional exchange with anchors Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer.
Here is a transcript of their conversation:
Question: I'm scared and I'm 15. Is this how it's supposed to be?
Pace: That's a really tough question because what we're seeing with the students that we're coming in contact with is they're still trying to see how close this blast is going to hit to their feet. We're still learning where are their friends, you know, they're checking Facebook and MySpace and everything just to see where they are. Right now it is more immediate -- can we find our friends and can we begin the process to sort through all the questions this is going to bring up.
Question: I'm just a 14-year-old girl from New Hampshire, but really… How many shootings like this is it going to take to make something happen for the better?
Roberts: So what can students, especially young students all across the country that are getting up this morning about to head to school do?
Pace: You know, it's a tough one to process because it always seems to happen in places you never think it would happen.
I don't know that there is a thing we can do that's going to keep us safe from this. This is the kind of thing that seems to be happening more and more in our culture today. I think that we can certainly try to corral around each other and help each other when it does. I think there's certain things that we can do to try to take some of the pain from each other when we can.
But it is just a fact of our world now.
Sawyer: What is the message of faith, and I mean across all denominations, that you would tell parents to give their kids, though? Because so many parents wrote to us saying you don't think you'll send your children away to school and have something like this happen -- how do they then talk in families about something like this happening inside a faith?
Pace: It is a very difficult one. I have three little children and we're sorting this through ourselves.
I think what we've been trying to do is trying to help people see that dealing with this process is going to be a multistage process.
It's going to take time. I think we're trying to help people see that the world is broken as it is right now and we need to realize we live in a world like that.
I think it's is certainly causing families to draw closer together. I know a lot of students that just want to get home -- wherever home is -- and I think their parents will say they probably haven't said that in a while.
It's drawing people closer to their friends and it's drawing people closer to God, and these are the kind of things we need to encourage people to do in times like this.
Roberts: Sometimes in times like this people begin to question their faith because they ask, 'How could something like this happen? Why would something like this happen?'
We heard from so many viewers, like this one who asked:
Question: All I keep thinking… Why would someone be this horrible? Where does it end?
Pace: I can't possibly fully answer that. I think the thing that I can understand about the world and God is that we do have free will, and people can use that free will to either serve and help people in the wake of a disaster like this or they can use that free will to make a wake like this. And I think that's what happened yesterday.
Someone took that choice, and they made a horrible choice, and I think that that's part of what we're living with. That's part of what God is working with us as he is trying to bring things back to a picture that looks much more like what He would like the world to be.
But it's not a question that can be answered very easily.
Sawyer: Before we leave you, as we said, all around us in this building are families gathering. These are the parents who have lost their children. Have you found one sentence that seems to be the most helpful, the most healing? Is it one sentence that you think can, I guess, put a balm on an impossible wound?
Pace: I'd have to say any sentence would probably just sound fairly trite. What I keep coming back to is that God is here and I've been trying to tell people that God is even here. That's the best I can do.
Roberts: Even someone as strong as yourself in this kind of senseless tragedy -- it just takes your breath away and makes you value where you are and what you're doing.
Pace: It certainly does.