They keep coming. Virginia Tech’s student population continues to slowly make its exodus home. But the Jesus People are still here, still preaching on the grounds of the Drillfield. This afternoon, it’s Christian folk rock augmented with a set of African drums. This paper’s managing editor may approve. But when I arrived they were still in full drum-circle mode unable to pick a song and stick to it. They sat cross-legged in a circle, sheet music blowing everywhere when it wasn’t tucked under their feet or an empty guitar case. And they strummed and strummed before the inevitable camera man from Sweden or Japan.
J.R. Duren, the lead strummer on a Taylor acoustic six-string, flew in from San Diego (“the good part”) on Tuesday morning. He said he was just moved to come here. “It’s not like I’m some superstar relief worker,” he says.
Duren, 29, admits that 9/11, Katrina and Columbine just didn’t hit him the way the Virginia Tech shootings have. But he’s not sure why. “That’s a mystery,” he says. “I’m a little bit on the outside….We’ve seen a lot of tired people.”