The Huffington Post – Religion, Lancaster, PA – The mother of the gunman who killed five girls at an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania says she learned from the Amish how to forgive her son after the 2006 massacre.
Just over seven years ago, Charles Carl Roberts IV barricaded himself inside an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, PA, tied up 10 girls and opened fire, killing five and injuring five others before committing suicide as police closed in.
The Amish responded by offering immediate forgiveness to the killer — even attending his funeral — and embracing his family.
Roberts’ mother, Terri Roberts, could have gone into hiding to nurse her pain, like many parents of mass murderers have in the past. Instead, she broke with convention. She forgave, too, and now she is sharing her experience with others, saying the world needs more stories about the power of forgiveness and the importance of seeking joy through adversity.
“I realized if I didn’t forgive him, I would have the same hole in my heart that he had. And a root of bitterness never brings peace to anyone,” Roberts said. “We are called to forgive.”
Roberts has delivered that message to scores of audiences, from church groups to colleges, and is writing a memoir. At the same time, she stays close to her Amish neighbors.
Once a week, Terri Roberts spends time with a 13-year-old Amish girl named Rosanna who sits in a wheelchair and eats through a tube. Roberts bathes her, sings to her, reads stories. She can only guess what’s going on inside Rosanna King’s mind because the girl can’t talk. Roberts’ son did this to her. She is one of the five schoolhouse shooting survivors.
Terri Roberts’ weekly visits with Rosanna force her to confront the damage her son caused. But Roberts says she also finds peace as she spends time with Rosanna and provides some relief to the teen’s family, if only for a few hours.
While the Amish were celebrated for how they responded to the massacre, they also acknowledge that forgiveness doesn’t always come easily or automatically. Rosanna ‘s father, Christ King, said the Amish are like anyone else, with the same frailties and emotions.
“We hope that we have forgiven, but there actually are times that we struggle with that, and I have to ask myself, ‘Have I really forgiven?'” King said. “We have a lot of work to do to live up to what we are bragged up to be.”
Yet Terri Roberts says she learned from the Amish that “none of us needs to live in the saddest part of our lives 24/7.”
Read the full story: “Terri Roberts, Mother Of Amish Shooting Perpetrator Cares For Her Son’s Victims.”