The Nickel Mines Tragedy:
Through the e-mail address I have provided on this blog, I have received many messages from people around the country, and some from ‘across the pond,’ expressing continued concern, and asking for any new updates on the five young girls who survived the October 2nd shootings at the schoolhouse in Nickel Mines.
Below is one representative example (sender’s name omitted) of compassionate caring that I received just this week from a young woman in California:
Since we are all still earnestly praying for the families of the victims and the survivors of the tragedy, I was wondering if there is any additional news on how these precious survivors are doing?
No doubt, the families are keeping their condition and their recovery quite private. I would not wish to do anything that would infringe upon their privacy. However, I hope that the Amish community will not retreat into silence. Their life story is a powerful one. I hope the deep respect for their influence and life-philosophy will be a catalyst for spiritual revival in our communities. Is there any word?
Although I may not know exactly how to pray for these dear families and the children who are recovering, from what I can only imagine to be horrific injuries, God knows. He knows each and every one, intimately.
As the Psalmist said.
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I'm far away.
You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord …
… You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand.
So I will continue to pray for them, confident that God, who knows the individuals and their needs intimately, will supply what is needed out of the abundance of His mercy and grace.
Our culture, thirsty for spiritual renewal, has had a brief glimpse into the Amish way of life. Their commitment to "not being conformed to the behavior and customs of the world" will, I'm sure, continue to proclaim the good news of God's love, forgiveness, and redemption. After all, The heavens proclaim the glory of God and the skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.
The Amish, have powerfully "spoken" as a people of integrity who follow the instructions of the Lord. They are among those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They have demonstrated a deep understanding of God's charge to keep his commandments carefully so that actions would consistently reflect God's decrees. Even if they do not intermingle with the outside world...the world has seen what it is like to not be ashamed when one's life is compared with God's commands. The world has had a brief witness into a lifestyle that understands ... "as I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should."
I welled up with tears upon reading this young woman’s thoughts and concerns for the families of Nickel Mines.
The families of the five remaining victims have requested that the doctors at Children’s Hospital and Hershey Medical Center not release any more information about their daughters. They would like to retreat once again into privacy, now that the media glare has been lifted from the scene of the tragedy.
Four of the five surviving victims of the shootings have returned home from Children’s Hospital and Hershey Medical Center. Only one still remains hospitalized. Their conditions, or reasons for returning home, have not been made public. I hope that their leaving the hospital indicates that they have improved enough to hope for a complete recovery, and not that they were brought home to die in familiar surroundings with their families, but I do not know the significance of their release.
I wish the families would be somewhat more open, since so many around the world have been praying for the victims and their families, but so far they have chosen to keep the girls' conditions private.
I agree with the young woman above that the Amish culture has the potential to become an extraordinarily powerful witness and example in a world that is thirsting for spiritual revival. At the same time, they so value their privacy and their desire not to 'intermingle' with the outside world more than is necessary. And, despite the fact that we would like them to take more of a public stand, that kind of activism is not in their nature.
On a more upbeat note: Lydia Mae Zook, one of the pregnant women who was allowed to leave the schoolroom with the young boys on the day of the shootings, gave birth to a daughter on October 10th, just eight days after the tragedy. She named the baby after Naomi Rose Ebersol, one of the seven-year-old victims of the shootings.
On a semi-related note …
Facing the Giants:
Even though this movie has only been released in 440 theaters, it has grossed $5.5 million, on a production budget of $100,000 (obtained through private donations from the Albany, Georgia church members who created it, and who served, voluntarily, as the actors and behind-the-scenes force).
Keith Brown, a Lancaster resident who wanted to see the movie, was forced to drive to Harrisburg last month in order to do so. After seeing it, he called Nancy Lovell, a representative of the church who was listed on the movie’s website, to ask her a few questions.
When Nancy heard that Keith is from Lancaster, she connected the location to the scene of the recent Nickel Mines tragedy, and she became interested in getting the film into a Lancaster area theater, in the hopes that it could help the community in the healing process.
Normally Sony Pictures, which has bought the film from the independent creators, requires ‘boosters’ to purchase blocks of at least 750 tickets in order to move the film into a theater in their area. Nancy was able to convince Sony to forego that requirement and the movie was allowed to run in the Manor Theater in Millersville (which is where I saw it just last week, and where it played to close to a full house at that showing).
Keith Brown, who attends a Lancaster church, wants to make sure attendance at the Manor is high, so a website (lancastergiants.com) has been set up, delineating movie details and show times.
Last weekend, he and his family needed to sit in the first row because the Saturday 7:15 show was slowly becoming standing room only. He later commented that, ‘It was so meaningful for me to hear 175 other people respond to the film as I did when I first saw it – with cheers and applause and uplifted hearts.’
God can do more with one man who is 100% committed to Him than He can with 100 men who are 90% committed to Him.
The Lord is at work in so many ways here in Lancaster County, and for that and so much more we praise Him.