The Best Demonstration on TV

The events in Lancaster County, PA this week were as gruesome as one can witness. A deranged man took ten Amish elementary school girls hostage, ties them up with plans on molesting them. But police arrived sooner than he expected and he quickly shot all of them in the head, execution style, before he killed himself. Five of the girls are dead and the others are in the hospital.

Throughout this week my heart has broken for those little girls and their family and friends. How could someone do this to such innocent young girls, no matter how deep their pain? What a world we live in!

But as much as I have grieved through this tragedy, I’ve also been wonderfully uplifted by the demonstration of God’s forgiveness that this community is demonstrating to the world. As I’ve watched news reports about them and heard them talk, this does not sound like forgiveness-as-denial and a false covering for pain, but a real desire to find the way of Jesus to be real even in a tragedy as crushing as this one. They have even reached out to the family of the man who killed their children, offering forgiveness and help to them. Can you think of any similar situation where you’ve had the opportunity to even consider the pain that the family of the perpetrator are going through as well? They’ve helped me pray there too!

I have been in Lancaster County a number of times and seen the Amish farms there. When I see their horse-drawn carriages and farm equipment, I can’t help but wonder what kind of legalistic time warp they got trapped in. While it allows them to live simple, family-centered lives, how relevant can they be to the world around them?

It turns out extraordinarily relevant when you consider the conflicts of our world where anger and rage fester and grow generation after generation until the only solution they can see is to seek out ever-grander schemes of death and destruction. As these Amish brothers and sisters have struggled with what it means to walk in forgiveness even before the emotions of their own loss have had time to settle, I have been freshly encouraged and challenged myself to embrace forgiveness in my own life so deeply and so immediately. I have been brought to tears numerous times watching the news as they talk of what it means to forgive and act on it with such conviction.

And in doing so they have demonstrated more of life and reality of Jesus in our world than anything else I’ve seen in the media this year. May God grant them great grace and comfort in this season and to the family of the killer as well.

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10 Comments
  1. Fran October 6, 2006 at 11:50 am

    This tragedy took my breath away when I first read of it but today the generosity of the Amish community has also left me amazed and humbled. CNN reports that people have been sending money to help with the costs of medical expenses and funerals. But the Amish leadership has made sure that part of that money will also go to the killer’s wife and three children. Amazing grace demonstrated for all the world to see. I hope that our hearts will be instructed by their example.

  2. kent October 6, 2006 at 1:57 pm

    This story just crushed me and made the burden I had been visibly carring for a few weeks, for young girls in our society almost impossible to bare. I had made a couple posts before this event on my blog, about how young girls are so vulnerable and exposed in our male dominated, over sexed and violent society. My reactions to what my three girls and other girls face on a regular basis in belittling sexist behavior unfortunately was not as forgiving as the example I have watched these gracious people display in a most horrific nightmare. I have said to many people this week, “I hope the world is watching.” I have been and I am humbled by what I have seen.

  3. Fran October 6, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    This tragedy took my breath away when I first read of it but today the generosity of the Amish community has also left me amazed and humbled. CNN reports that people have been sending money to help with the costs of medical expenses and funerals. But the Amish leadership has made sure that part of that money will also go to the killer’s wife and three children. Amazing grace demonstrated for all the world to see. I hope that our hearts will be instructed by their example.

  4. Tyler Dawn October 6, 2006 at 3:35 pm

    What has most struck me over the course of this week is the difference between the Amish community and the Westboro Baptist church. Earlier in the week I watched the daughter of their leader (Fred Phelps) say that those girls deserved to die at the hands of an angry and vengeful god, because they had created a system of righteousness for themselves. Their solution? Slander and villify the innocent, without a bit of compassion or love — while the Amish community, silently and without fanfare shows us what it truly is to take up one’s cross and follow Christ by actively loving their neighbor, and showing compassion that many of us cannot even begin to fathom. I see God’s beautiful hand in all of this, and once again it isn’t those who yell the loudest who are reflecting His glory, but those who are just silently living in Him. I may not agree with the Amish system, but on this day I find myself humbled by the reality of their lives in Christ. I count myself privileged to be siblings with them.

    No one could ever fake this kind of life in Christ. And I pray that the world is more impacted by the Amish community’s love than by the religious hatred that has been brought to the surface.

  5. kent October 6, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    This story just was added to my homepage. This story just continues to amaze me.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061006/us_nm/crime_schools_dc

  6. kent October 6, 2006 at 4:57 pm

    This story just crushed me and made the burden I had been visibly carring for a few weeks, for young girls in our society almost impossible to bare. I had made a couple posts before this event on my blog, about how young girls are so vulnerable and exposed in our male dominated, over sexed and violent society. My reactions to what my three girls and other girls face on a regular basis in belittling sexist behavior unfortunately was not as forgiving as the example I have watched these gracious people display in a most horrific nightmare. I have said to many people this week, “I hope the world is watching.” I have been and I am humbled by what I have seen.

  7. Tyler Dawn October 6, 2006 at 6:35 pm

    What has most struck me over the course of this week is the difference between the Amish community and the Westboro Baptist church. Earlier in the week I watched the daughter of their leader (Fred Phelps) say that those girls deserved to die at the hands of an angry and vengeful god, because they had created a system of righteousness for themselves. Their solution? Slander and villify the innocent, without a bit of compassion or love — while the Amish community, silently and without fanfare shows us what it truly is to take up one’s cross and follow Christ by actively loving their neighbor, and showing compassion that many of us cannot even begin to fathom. I see God’s beautiful hand in all of this, and once again it isn’t those who yell the loudest who are reflecting His glory, but those who are just silently living in Him. I may not agree with the Amish system, but on this day I find myself humbled by the reality of their lives in Christ. I count myself privileged to be siblings with them.

    No one could ever fake this kind of life in Christ. And I pray that the world is more impacted by the Amish community’s love than by the religious hatred that has been brought to the surface.

  8. kent October 6, 2006 at 7:10 pm

    This story just was added to my homepage. This story just continues to amaze me.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061006/us_nm/crime_schools_dc

  9. carmen October 9, 2006 at 6:13 am

    wayne, i’ve lurked for some time and just want to epress my appreciation for your words about the Amish school shooting. my mom’s folks were born Amish (they joined the Mennonite church in their youth) so events surrounding the Amish seem to hold deep personal interest for our famliy. but even more so than that, i was profoundly moved by the Amish response (insisting on a fund for the shooter’s widow, attending the shooter’s funeral, calling for forgiveness). their acttions are a moving and heart-wrenching image of Kingdom-living, one that (for me, at least) reaffirmed that God’s love and life will blast out and overwhelm/overcome where there are those who live in him. coincidently, i’d been listening to your messages on the Kingdom (btw, i too am one of those who found Dallas Willard’s ‘Divine Conspiracy’ a foundational book) and so it all flowed together deep within. blessings, carmen

  10. carmen October 9, 2006 at 9:13 am

    wayne, i’ve lurked for some time and just want to epress my appreciation for your words about the Amish school shooting. my mom’s folks were born Amish (they joined the Mennonite church in their youth) so events surrounding the Amish seem to hold deep personal interest for our famliy. but even more so than that, i was profoundly moved by the Amish response (insisting on a fund for the shooter’s widow, attending the shooter’s funeral, calling for forgiveness). their acttions are a moving and heart-wrenching image of Kingdom-living, one that (for me, at least) reaffirmed that God’s love and life will blast out and overwhelm/overcome where there are those who live in him. coincidently, i’d been listening to your messages on the Kingdom (btw, i too am one of those who found Dallas Willard’s ‘Divine Conspiracy’ a foundational book) and so it all flowed together deep within. blessings, carmen

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