Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Putting the gospel into practice

Marie Monville was brought up in an evangelical church in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. In her late teens, she married Charles Roberts. They had three children and almost 10 years together.

Over the years, Charlie's faith began to falter. The more Marie asked him to seek help, the more he withdrew. Apparently he was suffering from clinical depression.

On the morning of October 2, 2006, Marie led a prayer meeting at church. She and Charlie then walked their two oldest children, aged five and seven, to the bus stop, kissing them goodbye before Charlie left for work.

Later, Charlie telephoned. "I had never heard Charlie's voice sound like that before," said Marie, "not in almost 10 years of marriage. Something was horribly wrong."

Charlie told Marie he would not be coming home. She pleaded with him to come home, but he hung up.

Charlie went to the one-room Amish schoolhouse with a handgun, a rifle, a shotgun, a stun gun and two knives. He ordered the teacher, a teacher's help and the boys to leave. He bound 10 schoolgirls and lined them up against a blackboard. He boarded up the windows, and shot the 10 girls one by one - five were killed and five seriously injured - before turning the gun on himself.

Some time later, Marie was in the kitchen at her parents' home when she saw some Amish men coming down the street. "I knew they were coming to my parents' house," she told Piers Morgan in a television programme last week.

"I went to my mom and dad and said 'What do I do? Do I go out to talk to them?' My dad said 'You can stay inside. I'll go out and talk with them.'

"He met them on the driveway. I continued to watch from the window. And although I couldn't hear the words they spoke, I saw the embrace. You know, I saw them put their arms around my dad and put their hands on his shoulder. Everything about their gentleness conveyed the words I couldn't hear.

"When my dad came back in, we all are waiting to hear from him what they said. And he collected his thoughts, you know. And I knew it had been a deeply moving time for him as well.

"He said that they had forgiven Charlie and that they were extending grace and love to our family. They were concerned about me and concerned about our children."

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.  Matt 5:44.

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