It was 15 years ago – October 2, 2006 – that the school shooting at the West Nickel Mines School took place. I made a video looking back at that day, but especially focusing on what came afterwards – the forgiveness shown by the Amish. The forgiveness story went around the world, covered in media far and wide. In the book Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy*, the authors cite some Amish thoughts on the good that may have come out of the events of that terrible day:
“Sometimes some of our people think we should do more evangelistic work or begin a prison ministry,” said one Amish farmer, reflecting on all the press coverage of forgiveness. “But this forgiveness story made more of a witness for us all over the world than anything else we can ever do.” Gid agreed: “Maybe this was God’s way to let us do some missionary work. Maybe He used the media to help us spread the word.” Not every Amish person drew this missionary-minded conclusion, but some clearly did. “The message [of forgiveness] really was a light to the world,” said Amos, the minister. “We’re supposed to be a light to the world, but we’re not supposed to say, ‘See what I’m doing.’…It’s important that we put the honor where the honor belongs [to God].” (p. 52)
*Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, and David L. Weaver-Zercher
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Yes, I clearly remember the incident – and I agree with the Amishman quoted who said that forgiveness can take years, and that unforgiveness breeds bitterness.
Even before I came to know Christ and his forgiveness, I had a major life crisis, (which in many ways was a catalyst to my conversion) and chose then to let it make me better, not bitter. That has helped make my choice to forgive even in the the most difficult of situations a predetermined response. Not an easy one, but a necessary one.
I liken it to peeling an onion – there always seems to be another layer to go… but eventually you get right to the tender centre of the onion.
Thank you for presenting this to us with the perspective of time
Good analogy with the onion Maxine. And good on you for overcoming by your choices. Thanks for sharing with us here.
We must forgive those transgressors and the evil they’ve inflicted.
I’m sure each glance at the empty bed of the loved one brings tears.
Our faith and hope is in His Word.
I remember this as if yesterday. I have the movie and watch over and over when bitterness tries to consume me. My heart and love continues to go out for the Amish. At this time our country could learn from them.
I remember learning of it from looking at the front of a newspaper – on I assume October 3rd – which is a bit odd to imagine in itself. That tells you in some part it was a different era. It does still seem recent even though the youngest children are in their 20s now.
The forgiven forgive!
Forgiveness is wonderful for it is the key that unlocks eternal joy. Forgiveness cost the God of the universe his Son. Therefore it is not easy or without much cost. Those who choose to forgive are the same who have experienced the great freedom of forgiveness. Guilty people have no hope without forgiveness. When you have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus you want to forgive others. It might be very difficult but it’s reward is outstanding. Lord thank you for the Amish that have experienced the love of your forgiveness so they can forgive others. Amen
Strong and well said
Thank you for remembering this terrible tragedy and the Christian forgiveness of the Amish community. Donald Kraybill produced a beautiful book to help in understanding the Christian traditions of the Amish community.
Absolutely. And I do recommend that book for anyone who wants to delve deeper – Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy – by Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, and David Weaver-Zercher.