On October 2, 2006, and armed man burst into the one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. Before the police could respond, he succeeded is shooting 10 girls, killing five and leaving the others in critical condition. Finally, the man turned the weapon on himself, ending his life and leaving the entire community in a state of shock and grief. That man was Marie Robert’s husband, Charlie. For seven years Marie Monville (then Robert’s) struggled with the actions of her late husband, but with the release of her new book One Light Still Shines, Monville is finally breaking her silence with a tale of God’s grace.
Raised in the deeply religious Lancaster County, PA, Marie said she had always enjoyed a close relationship with God. At the time before the shooting, her family’s life had been quiet and peaceful. Little did she know that the untreated depression growing in her husband would drive him to commit such a heinous act. In an interview with CNN, Monville recalls her feelings in the aftermath of the shooting, believing it to be her first test of faith.
“Monville calls this her ‘walk on water’ moment, recalling when Jesus challenged the disciples to show their faith by following his footsteps across the Sea of Galilee. ‘I was faced with two choices, and only two,’ she said. ‘I could choose to believe that everything written about God in the pages of the Word were true, and that he was going to rescue me and my family. Or I could choose to believe that we were going down like the fastest sinking ship.’”
Monville’s upcoming book highlights the events that took place after the shooting. Despite the actions of her husband, that the entire community went out of their way to help her family. Meals were cooked, friends offered comfort, and unparalleled grace was shown. Now Monville says she can look back on the events of 2006 and see God’s hand at work despite the evil. She’s not the only one.
In an old article, writer Dave Burchett, recorded his reactions at the time of the shooting. The response of the Amish community, he says, brought him to tears.
“I have a hard time forgiving someone who says something negative about me. I am humbled by this display of Amish faith…. Thinking of the financial needs of the killer's family? Incredible. No, make that supernatural. That is beyond the scope of human response.”
Though the scars of the shooting remain fresh for many, Monville hopes her testimony will help ease the pain of those effected. She, like many, believes the grace of God is stronger than grief. Now is the time to tell her story, and trust in the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
*Ryan Duncan is the Culture Editor for Crosswalk.com.