Courage surprises us when we stumble on it unexpectedly. Compassion and love wash over us like a refreshing breeze in August, when we find them where we anticipated searing hate and vengeance.
On October 3, 2006, heavily-armed Charles Carl Roberts, 32, commandeered the one-room Amish schoolhouse at Nickel Mines, a farming community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, about 60 miles west of Philadelphia.
The Amish are descendants of Swiss-German settlers from the Alsace-Lorraine region. Their Christian denomination places importance on the Gospel message of forgiveness. The Amish forbid the use of electricity in their homes, will not drive automobiles or tractors for fieldwork, and follow a strict dress code.
Roberts, who was not Amish, let the boys and adults in the school leave. Some speculate he planned to sexually molest the 10 girls he kept prisoner, but the police arrived too quickly for him to put his plan into action.
He shot all the girls, whose ages ranged from 6 to 13, killing five of them. Then he killed himself. He said he was mad at God, according to the surviving girls. He even asked them to pray for him.
But something astonishing happening before the carnage, according to Rita Rhoads, a midwife. Thirteen-year old Marian Fisher asked the killer to shoot her first, apparently hoping to let the younger girls survive.
Her 11-year old sister Barbie told the story to her grandfather who related it to Rhoads. Barbie appealed to the shooter to shoot her next. The younger sister survived. Continue reading
Once I drove towards Schifflange, Luxembourg to put up posters for an evangelistic activity we were sponsoring.
Suddenly I saw a man stagger from the sidewalk into the street.
I thought he was having a medical problem so I stopped to help.
When I got to him, though, I saw that his “medical problem” gurgled from a bottle.
I worried, though, that he would wander back into the street and get run over, so I asked him where he lived, hoping to help him home. He wasn’t very coherent but an old lady happened by and she knew him. She said she could show me.
And show me she tried to—from the sidewalk on the other side of the street she would point the direction. She didn’t want anyone to see her walking through town with a drunk man.
She left that to me.
I told the man I was taking him home, so occasionally he would raise his arm like Teddy Roosevelt leading the charge at San Juan hill and yell, “A la maison!” (to the house!) Continue reading
I love to have thoughts I‘ve never had before–most of the time anyway. And in 63 years I’ve thought a lot of thoughts. I had a new one the other day but I’m not sure it’s right.
Before and after my wife’s recent surgery, hundreds or (probably) thousands of friends and family prayed for her. Normally, I think that one person praying in faith would have done the job, so it seems to me there ought to be a surplus of prayers stored up somewhere.
“Wouldn’t it be great,” I asked my wife, “If every time we had a need now, we could just take some prayers out of that prayer stockpile that was left over? Wouldn’t even have to pray ourselves. Just open up the door to the storeroom, take out a few prayers and “voila”—problem over.” Continue reading
You are the hand of God to touch hurting people. You’re His voice to whisper compassion to them.
I used to be a bit of a kamikaze about some things. Funerals for instance. I didn’t like them and I used to proclaim, “When I die just put me in a box and bury me. I’ll be with the Lord so it doesn’t matter.”
I didn’t want anyone viewing me in my casket and saying, “Doesn’t he look natural?” If you look natural when you’re dead, you must have been pretty bad off when you were alive. Continue reading
As I left my apartment to walk into the center of our city, five minutes a way, I saw emergency vehicle lights on the bridge over the train tracks.
Traffic was stacked up. “I wonder what that is.” Bus number 317 was stopped on the bridge and the police were trying to untangle the jam of cars by directing them another way. In front of the bus a man lay prostrate on the street. I suppose he was alive but he wasn’t wiggling a lot. Continue reading