The Forgiveness Story That Went Around the World
York Daily Record, York, PA – What do you do when your lives are shattered and you don’t want to see tomorrow?
That’s the question Terri and Chuck Roberts faced on Oct. 2, 2006–the day their son shot 10 girls, killing five, before taking his own life at the West Nickel Mines School, a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, PA. They found the answer, Terri says, in the Amish faith and forgiveness.
Roberts said she and her husband thought they could never face their Amish neighbors again. The day of the shooting, however, their Amish neighbor Henry came to their house and stood behind Chuck, rubbing his shoulders and consoling him, she recalled. When she and her family buried her son, the first parents to greet them at the graveside were Amish parents who had lost not one but two daughters in the shooting.
In that action, she saw the depth of the Amish community’s faith and the breadth of their forgiveness. The speed in which the Amish community forgave both the shooter and his family was “the forgiveness story that went around the world. People were able to forgive because the Amish could,” Roberts said.
Roberts started inviting the five surviving school girls and their mothers to picnics and tea parties at her house just three months after the shootings. At one get-together, she learned that Mary Liz King had a harder road than the rest of the mothers: Her daughter, Rosanna, never fully recovered and remains paralyzed. From that day on, Roberts started visiting Rosanna, now 11, weekly. She bathes her and brushes her hair, cleans her bedclothes, talks to her, sings to her, and reads Bible stories. Though at first she wasn’t sure she was strong enough to continue, Roberts now finds peace in those visits. “As we reach out in ways that bring a touch, we can find great healing,” she says.
Read more: “5 Years Later, Mother Cares for Son’s Amish Victim” (www.newser.com). The role forgiveness can play in alleviating anger and grief and the physical, mental and spiritual benefits that come with it are vividly outlined in “The Power of Forgiveness,” a documentary film by Martin Doblmeier that features a segment on the Amish.