Co-Founder and Chairman of the Angela Foundation
Licensed Minister and Certified Counselor
Founder of Family Resource and Counseling Center
Jonas Beiler: Think No Evil
The 700 Club
Original Air Date: September 30, 2010
It has become numbingly familiar: A man walks into a church, a store, a dormitory, a nursing home, or a school, and begins shooting. Sometimes there is panic, sometimes there is an eerie quietness, but always there is death and a senseless, inexplicable loss of innocent life. Minutes later the shooting is breaking news. By the end of the day it has seared a name in our memories. Columbine. Virginia Tech. For Jonas Beiler it was the Amish schoolhouse shooting four years ago.
On October 2, 2006, Charles Roberts, a local truck driver, who serviced several of the local Amish farms collecting and delivering their raw milk, backed a pick-up truck to the front of the Nickel Mines Schoolhouse. With a gun in his hand, he demanded that the boys help carry in supplies. Charles released the 15 boys and the few adults that were in the schoolhouse, leaving 11 girls inside. Confused at the events taking place, the boys reluctantly left the building. The boys hid behind the outhouses not far from the schoolhouse and began praying for the girls left inside. Meanwhile, Charles tied the girls hands and bound some of the girls’ feet, then began pulling the blinds and boarding up the schoolhouse. One little girl escaped because her feet were not bound, leaving the final 10 girls behind not knowing what was about to happen. They all began praying.
The schoolhouse teacher, who was one of the first to escape, ran to the neighbor farm and used the phone to call 911. State troopers were on the scene. The quick response from police added more pressure to Charles and all he had planned. Charles called the emergency dispatch to have them tell the police to back away from the schoolhouse. When the police didn’t respond as warned, he shot the 10 schoolgirls and then shot himself. Five of the girls’ injuries were fatal. Four of the girls have recovered physically and one is in a vegetative state.
Think No Evil
Perhaps more startling than the violence was the quiet yet powerful response of the Amish community offering unconditional forgiveness to the murderer. They reached out to his family with baskets of food and warm welcomes into their homes.
For the Amish community in Nickel Mines, PA, forgiving was a choice easily made. Forgiveness is a value so deeply interwoven into their heritage that it comes naturally and unconditionally. After many tragedies the response is to sue the family of the perpetrator, the city or the government. In the aftermath of the Amish schoolhouse shooting, there was no lawsuit or ill thoughts towards Charles or his family. When something tragic happens, the Amish come together. They support each other through the tragic times of life.
Forgiveness is a choice that needs to be made after someone has wronged you; dealing with the emotional aftermath is a process. “Forgiveness sets the spirit free,” says Jonas, “We think too much about the other person and that it somehow lets him off the hook for what he did.”
Editing Your History
The past doesn’t change. As much as anyone would like to go back to that day and change the events that took place, it just isn’t possible. “The way we look at the past can change,” says Jonas.
“Everything has three ways in which it can be interpreted: the way I see it, the way you see it, and the way it really is. Even though the past doesn’t change, we don’t live with the facts of our lives. We live with the conclusions that we make about the facts of our lives,” says Jonas. “It’s important to make peace with our past, because without doing so the past will hinder our joy for the present, and keep us from looking forward with any hopeful or joyful expectation of the future.”
Jonas grew up in a traditional Old Order Amish family in the 1950s. Jonas and his wife, Anne, have faced their share of unfair circumstances. They suffered the loss of their 19-month-old daughter, Angela, in a home accident. Jonas also lost his brother, who was his best friend, in a motor accident. He is the co-founder and chairman of the Angela Foundation and is a licensed minister and certified counselor and founder of Family Resource and Counseling Center and The Family Center of Gap, both located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Anne is the founder and creator of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, an acclaimed international pretzel franchise.
Log in or create an account to post a comment.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.