On October 2, 2006, a shooting occurred at the West Nickel Mines School, an Amish one-room schoolhouse in the Old Order Amish community of Nickel Mines, a village in Bart Township of Lancaster County, Pa.
Gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV took hostages and shot 10 girls, ages 6–13, killing five, before committing suicide in the schoolhouse.
This could be a story of harsh bitterness, anger and anguish, but instead, the Amish community of Nickel Mines chose the path of forgiveness and reconciliation.
The West Nickel Mines School has been since torn down, and a new one-room schoolhouse, the New Hope School, was built at another location. The school may be gone, but the memories of what took place remain firmly entrenched in the lives of those who lived through the tragedy.
One of the many lives touched by these tragic events is Terri Roberts, the mother of Carl Roberts IV. On Friday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at the Perry Reese Community Center, Roberts will speak about her walk through the fire, about moving beyond the tragedy, seeking forgiveness and acceptance and the love and grace that has covered her life, even as she battled through cancer in addition to the events that took place.
Roberts will share her riveting story of God’s incredible grace and love in this free event.
Roberts had first spoken in this area to families who had suffered through sudden loss of a loved one or loved ones, with the emphasis put on the families of those involved with tragedies in Benton and Maysville.
She returned later to speak at Oak Grove Church, which is where Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center director Paul Miller contacted her.
“We thought it would be good for people to hear her story in a more public setting where many people could see how God’s grace and love works in our world,” said Miller. “It’s a very courageous story of how people move beyond tragedy.”
While the event is free to the public, there will be a free will donation taken, with proceeds going to the Community Therapy Barn in Gordonville, Pa.
The therapy institution is one which provides respite care for families with handicapped and injured children. There are survivors of the Nickel Mines shooting who attend.
And in another act of true compassion, Roberts herself has taken part of the healing process by becoming a volunteer at the center.
“As a result of the relationships which have stemmed from the shooting, Terri goes to the center weekly to care for one of the children who was injured,” said Miller. “It has had an amazingly profound effect on many lives in many ways.”
What is the cost of forgiveness? The community at Nickel Mines has shown that the cost is free, as long as peace, compassion and grace are involved.
Dealing with the aftermath of such a tragic event can be horrifying, but the community there, including the families and Roberts herself, have proven that hope and love can arise from the most dire of circumstances.
Come and hear Roberts’ captivating story on Friday, April 13. The event is being sponsored by the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center and The Gospel Book Store.
Published: April 5, 2012