In early October 2006 Charles Carl Roberts a 32 year old truck driver brutally shot down five young Amish Girls in the town of Nickel Mines Pennsylvania. Following this slaughter of innocent children the news media made fair coverage but the tragedy was quickly overshadowed by the news about e-mails sent to a congressional page by Florida congressman Mark Foley. Now the debate rages about the resignation of House Speaker Dennis Hastert who allegedly had full knowledge of Foleys behavior.
Commenting on the indiscretions of congressmen Foley one commentator said the real issue is keeping our children safe. Some have equated just sending our children to a public school could be the equivalent of criminal negligence. Safe? If police presence, metal detectors and drug sniffing dogs cant do that, then what will? God forbid we hold Hollywood and the media culpable. A sex and violence drenched media, a cesspool like ocean of internet porn, a money hungry pop culture full of sexually fired music and images, just couldnt be what makes our schools unsafe. Naw!
Our children bring those sounds and images with them every day to the public halls of learning and there they create a social peer community in layers. Each layer with its own appointed appellation to keep the stratas uniquely separate like geek, jock etc. etc. Some kids describe it as something like hell itself. Home schooling, private schools and other means of escaping the public school experience are now being sought by millions as relief. Until recently, perhaps becoming a member of an Amish community might have been an option by which to save children from the public school horror show.
The Amish dont recruit or evangelize but they will accept people who are serious about joining and have fully acquainted themselves with all the Amish customs and rules. In Pennsylvania Dutch country the website of The Fulton Steamboat Inn answers the question “Can an outsider join the Amish church/community?”
“A local Amishman recently remarked, “You do not need to move here to adopt a lifestyle of simplicity and discipleship. You can begin wherever you are.” Yes, it is possible for outsiders, through conversion and convincement, to join the Amish community, but we must quickly add that it seldom happens. First, the Amish do not evangelize and seek to add outsiders to their church. Second, outsiders would need to live among the Amish and demonstrate a genuine conversion experience and faith that results in a changed lifestyle. Third, it is extremely difficult for anyone who has not been raised without electricity, automobiles, and other modern conveniences to adjust to the austere lifestyle of the Amish. And to truly be a part of the Amish community one would need to learn the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect.”
It may not be easy to get in the Amish community and very few from the outside ever do but what comes out of that community is something we should take a long look at and maybe we can learn something.
With his head turned away from the camera the grandfather of two of the slain girls described a scene that could rip the heart out of anyone. While holding the two in his arms they drew their last breath and expired in his loving arms. On Wednesday October 5 2006 a CNN news women asked him what his feelings were towards the gunmen Charles Roberts. He relied with we forgive him. But the story doesnt end there. The news women then asked how can you do this? In a short reply he said With Gods help.
All those who glibly put down the entire Christian church and its message with Oh, the church is just full of hypocrites can see by this single remark that the church is not quite full of the fakers. Here is a profession of faith being put to practice that only someone without brain, heart or conscience could fail to see.
We live in an era where Islam is threatening to kill people for anything they consider insulting to it, much less for not joining it. Hatred seems to be the driving force behind what has been almost jokingly referred to as a peaceful religion. Add to this worldwide perverted idea of God, western civilizations penchant for sleaze, violence and sex and the statement made by the grandfather of the two slain Amish girls looks like a welcome light from the shore in a turbulent storm that threatens to drown the world itself.
People who are genuinely searching often pass by the ceremonies, liturgies and general religious hokey pokey and keep searching until they find something that gives real meaning to life and life itself. That search ends for most people when they discover the power of Gods love. He doesnt crack the whip of judgment until all else has failed. That is why all judgment is reserved until the end.
Through Christ the gift of salvation is offered freely but it is only free to the taker, the giver paid the very highest price to purchase it by his death on the cross. It was there where the greatest example of forgiveness the world will ever see was fully displayed. Writhing in anguish and pain Christ looked upward to God the Father and cried Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34
Forgiving us was the costliest thing in the world for Christ and for us to forgive each other also has a high price attached to it. The world view of forgiveness is that it is a show of weakness. This notion is not just off by a few degrees it is diametrically opposite the truth. Forgiveness is the costliest matter on earth and it the most powerful substance known to man. It dwarfs the implications of E=MC2 and cheapens the price of gold.
America and the world community are undergoing a transfer from the forces and wrangling of mere ideologies to the heretofore ignored implications of theologies. A loving Savior or a wrathful and vengeful God as presented by Islam are the only choices. Those who have previously remained aloof to these theologies are finding that they can not escape the turbulence that is now emerging as an outgrowth from them.
Now and then a great reflection of the mercy of God shown to us through forgiveness comes across the waves. One gentlemanly old Amish grandfather has just sent a bright light along with those who share his faith. We can only hope that all churches and the whole world will not let this beam of light be blocked out by the raging storm of societies other urgencies and distractions.