Thursday, March 03, 2016

The power of forgiveness

In 2006, a young man walked into a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, ordered the teacher, a teacher's help and the boys to leave, shot the 10 girls one by one, then turned the gun on himself.

Two years ago I wrote about the almost incredible love and forgiveness showed by the Amish people to the gunman's widow. Now the gunman's mother, Terri Roberts, is telling her story.

On that never-to-be-forgotten morning, after hearing a garbled report of the shooting on the radio, she drove to her son's house, where she met her husband and a state trooper. She asked the trooper "Is my son alive?" The trooper said "No, ma'am." She collapsed in a heap on the ground.

That afternoon her husband was saying "Those poor parents, those poor children, we will have to move far away from our Amish neighbours. . . " Henry, their Amish neighbour, insisted the Amish wanted them to stay.

"The Amish. . . attended our son's burial, surrounding us and protecting us from the media cameras. The first parents to greet us that day had lost two daughters at the hand of our son. They asked us how we were doing."

The following July many of the Amish attended a picnic at her home. "The loving atmosphere was incredible, demonstrating how, even through the hardest of situations, we can surrender our angst and discover peace and joy.

"Knowing that I am battling stage four cancer, this past Christmas a school bus pulled into my driveway with 35 Amish friends singing carols to me."

Her conclusions?

"Bitterness and anger are worse than any cancer, eating away at our souls. Even in hardship, praising God for His provision changes our perspective, granting grace for the 'next step.'

"Surrender and submission have become words of great strength to me. By submitting to a higher plan I've found joy in the midst of the trials of tragedy and health.

"I've been in the lowest pit, in the deepest depths, but God's grace provides a way out through daily surrender - and I see His goodness."

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