When Chris Tomlin picked up his daughters from school in Nashville Monday, his 8-year-old had a message.
"Dad, we had a bad guy drill today," she said.
Of course, Tomlin already knew about the drill. His daughter's school is located close to The Covenant School, where a shooter killed three students and three adults. A Grammy-winning artist and popular Christian singer, Tomlin had received texts about the shooting at Covenant. He had received texts that his children's school was on lockdown.
Tomlin and his wife know families at Covenant. They also knew two of the victims: Cynthia Peak and Katherine Koonce.
"My heart is heavy," Tomlin told Christian Headlines. "... Those precious kids [at Covenant] have seen things they'll never not see. We live in evil days. There's a darkness, there's an evil that is obviously so real. I continue to hold these families close to my heart and know that one day every tear will be wiped away. We do have hope."
Easter, Tomlin noted, is just around the corner.
"I just think about that Scripture that says the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy," he told Christian Headlines. "But Jesus said, I've come that you may have life – life to the fullest. And I believe that ... in the midst of this, that there is life. There is one who wants to steal, kill and destroy this world and everything about it, especially God's creation and God's precious creation of His children."
Tomlin said his wife, Lauren, was making meals for Covenant families. He and his wife also are offering their presence and their friendship. Tomlin said he knows mere words cannot instantly heal.
He's applauding the work of the Nashville police, who killed the shooter 14 minutes after the emergency call was made. "A lot more heartache could have happened," he said.
Tomlin also is comforting his daughters.
"It was a time for me to be the dad and step in and just say, 'Here's the seriousness of what's going on today. You know, some of your friends that go to that school, they had some friends that are hurt. And there's some bad people in this world. And I want you to know that I'm here, I'm protecting you. I'm gonna do everything I can to always make sure you're safe.'"
He added, "It's heartbreaking."
Tomlin is currently on tour. He's the host of an upcoming UPtv series, Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith, which launches April 2 and includes inspiring true-life stories.
Photo courtesy: ©UPtv/Robby Klein, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.