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