Sunday, December 16, 2012

Remembering horror and forgiveness...

Just six days ago Terri Roberts spoke at a Pennsylvania church about forgiveness and Christian love.

Terri is the mother of Charles Carl Roberts who back in October 2006 took 10 Amish girls between the ages of six and 13 hostage at the Nic...
Amish families showed Terri Roberts the power of forgiveness.
kel Mines Amish School and killed five of them before killing himself.

As she spoke in the church, she recalled hearing sirens on that fall day and saw helicopters racing across the sky. In response, she said a prayer, “Lord, please be with those people who need you.”

Soon, the phone rang at the office where she worked. It was her husband telling her she needed to come home immediately. In her car driving home she heard on the radio about a shooting at an Amish school.

When she got home, her husband and a state trooper met her.
“It’s Charlie. It was Charlie,” her husband told her, his eyes reflecting his soul’s pain.

How does a mother cope with the news that her son had shot 10 little girls and killed five of them?

“No, no, no, no,” she said. “This cannot be the man we know.”

Shattered, Terri had little desire to keep living. The deeply religious woman turned to her faith. She asked God “to take the pierces and put them back together, to bring new things” into her life.

Terri didn’t think she could ever face her Amish friends again. Instead, they came to her.

On the day of the shooting, an Amish neighbor stood behind her husband and rubbed his shoulders, consoling. She says that action symbolized Amish faith and the breadth of their forgiveness.

When Terri and her husband buried their son, the first parents to greet them at the graveside were the mother and father of two daughters killed by their eldest son.

When Terri finished speaking at the church, the congregation’s pastor said, “The Amish reaction to the shooting was amazing because it was instant. Their forgiveness transcends.”

My mom’s side of the family comes from Wayne County, Ohio and were Mennonites and shared Anabaptist roots with the Amish back in Switzerland. I deeply respect the Amish/Mennonite faith, even their pacifist ways. They have gone to jail rather than take up the gun and fight in our wars.

The Amish response to their killings can be a shining light in the darkness of despair for the families of those who lost their lives Friday in the Newtown elementary school massacre.

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