What would you do if a deranged lunatic stormed a school house - your kids school house - had planned on raping all of the women and little girls and then proceed to kill them? What would you do? How would you respond? Would forgiveness be at the top of your list? It was for the Amish who suffered such a crime a few years ago. Recently I sat down to read this riveting accounting in the book-turn-Lifetime-movie AMISH GRACE: HOW FORGIVENESS TRANSCENDED TRAGEDY by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt, and David L. Weaver-Zercher.
The book begins by telling the story of the tragedy in all of its brutal detail. From there the authors begin to analyze the response of the Amish, their reasoning for their forgiving the man who committed the heinous acts and his family, and how the culture has responded to the Amish's forgiveness.
The reason for their forgiveness is clear: God said so. That is a message that is powerful especially when put in the light of the gospel. God has forgiven us mere maggots of much and adopted us as sons and daughters. It is the least we can do is to forgive others in the same way. Lets face it, if the Amish can forgive a murderer and his family, surely we can forgive others for the petty things we hold against them. Especially is we remember the gospel.
What I found interesting in the book was their analysis of how the culture responded to the Amish's forgiveness. Some argued that it was just a public relations attempt to make the Amish look positive. I am left scratching my head. Doesn't the fact that they are the victims here grant them public sympathy? Furthermore, the Amish go out of their way to stay out of the public and especially from the media, so why concoct this whole scheme of appearing to be forgiving. Furthermore, pretending to forgive when it was your daughter murdered would deserve an Oscar. I know I couldn't act in forgiveness after my child was murdered unless it was genuine.
The book reads almost like a report from a number of researchers and this is a book where such a format is best. The authors clearly did their research and spoke to the Amish themselves and seek to understand what the motivation was behind their amazing acts of forgiveness. This is an important books for everyone (Christian or not) to read and consider. Can you imagine how much better this world would be if we all forgave like this?