In this week where the horrific violence in Iraq continues to mount, we've heard multiple reports of deadly violence in schools in the US, the most unexpected event taking place at an Amish school in Pennsylvania. I cannot imagine a place where such violence is less likely to happen. These are quiet, simple, peaceful people of faith. But it did. Charles Carl Robert's entered the school planning to molest 10 girls and ended up shooting instead. And as of 10/4, 5 young girls had died, 3 were in critical condition, and 2 were serious. Roberts is also dead.
It was a terrible disconnect that this took place in a school where a sign proclaimed, "visitors bring joy." This visitor brought grief and pain. He tried to leave hatred and revenge in his wake but the folk in that little community refused. Instead, they returned grace. The Amish do not have insurance so when a need arises the community and other Amish communities around the country rise up and contribute until the needs are met. Funds were established to help the families of each of the girls who were shot. The Amish also set up a fund for Robert's family, knowing that their lives were turned inside out as well. It was also widely reported that the Roberts family would be welcome at the funerals of the girls to share as they all mourn.
These expressions of grace will not bring back the girls who have died but they will offer healing to the entire community. They will not make sense of meaningless deaths, but they will offer hope that the love of God overcomes even senseless violence. They stand out as a radical example of the power of Jesus' love to change the world works. In these violent times. We need those examples.
I am heart-broken that this event was the catalyst for this example of grace but deeply glad that if such events take place, at least amazing grace is available to see us through.