Amish aftermath: “If I didn’t forgive him, I’d have the same hole in my heart that he had”

Photo: Bradley C. Bower/AP

A poignant footnote to a story that made headlines around the world several years ago, courtesy the Associated Press: 

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 her stories. She can only guess what’s going on inside Rosanna’s mind because the girl can’t talk.

Roberts’ son did this to her.

Seven years ago, Charles Carl Roberts IV barricaded himself inside an Amish schoolhouse near Lancaster, 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.

Terri Roberts 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 the message to scores of audiences, from church groups to colleges, and is writing a memoir. She’s even considered traveling to speak in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year. But she is cautious, mindful an appearance there could give offense.

One of her sons is making a documentary—called “Hope”—about her remarkable journey from heartbroken mother to inspirational speaker.

Zachary Roberts originally conceived the film to help his mother. But it’s also proving to be cathartic for him.

Read it all.  You’ll find more information about the documentary and a link to the trailer.


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