Video: Amazing grace amid devastation

By Ann Curry
NBC News
updated 10/4/2006 7:32:26 PM ET 2006-10-04T23:32:26

More details about the Amish school shootings emerged Wednesday, with the Lancaster County deputy coroner revealing one of the victims had been shot nearly 20 times. But the Amish here are quick to forgive, burying their anger even before they bury their children.

The scene of the horror, that one-room schoolhouse, remains boarded up. Nearby, the community prepares for burials, embalming their own. 

Evangelical minister Rob Schenck observed the process in the home of 13-year-old Marian Fischer.

"It was truly one of the most moving experiences of my life, to see the tender love of a mother for a child," says Schenck. "And the Amish are a very plain, simple people."

Plain and simple describes the Amish way of life.

A Christian denomination, they set themselves apart from nearly all modern conveniences, even electricity. They refuse government assistance and don't serve in the military. Forgiveness is a core belief.

The grandfather of two sisters killed by the gunman spoke to WGAL-TV, the NBC affiliate in Lancaster.

"Is there anger towards the gunman's family?" asked a reporter.

"No," said the grandfather.

"Have you forgiven?"

"In my heart, yes."

"How is that possible?"

"Through God's help."

"It will provide an example to talk to their children about why violence is bad and why violence is sinful," says Donald Kraybill, a religious scholar at Elizabethtown College in Lancaster.

In the case of Marian Fischer's embalming, small children were brought in to watch.

"The grandfather made the point that the children must not think of the man who did this as evil," says Schenck.

Along with forgiveness, there's a strong sentiment that the school should be torn down, but the Amish know they may never forget what happened here. 

Which is why Katie Weaver, from an Amish community in Michigan, came here to offer sympathy.

"We can tell people about Christ and actually show you in our walk that we forgive, not just say it, but in our walk of life," she says.

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