The Happening

Harvey Yoder

It was just another Monday morning, albeit an exceptionally lovely one. The people of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, went about their daily lives, tending their farms and heading off to work or school. Only one man had any idea what this particular Monday would hold. One man...and the God in whom he no longer believed.

Certainly Rebecca Sue did not know. She walked to school with her sister as she did every day, never suspecting that within hours, a world that had never heard of Nickel Mines would be talking of little else.

In the days and months that followed, Rebecca Sue, her family, and her community struggled to come to grips with the tragic events of that morning. The happening had left six dead, five wounded, and thousands shocked and grieving. Somehow they had to find peace, and forgive the man who had caused their grief.

But how?

Only by the grace of God.

The Happening presents true details of the Amish school shooting woven into a story told through the eyes and heart of a young survivor.


The motive behind publishing The Happening was not to retell the tragic details of October 2, 2006, but to preserve in print the inspiring response of forgiveness by the victims' families. We felt this active portrayal of "turning the other cheek" could challenge us and other people around the world to forgive others as Christ forgave us.

We live in a wonderful world God created and called good. However, more and more we read about terrible things happening in faraway places, in our own country, and, increasingly, in our backyards. We read of broken homes, robberies, murders, and much more. All this evil comes from the fallen sin nature of man, and it causes much sadness, suffering, bitterness, and unforgiveness.

We often read of victims or their families cursing those who have wronged them. How startlingly refreshing to see the reaction of the grieving fathers and mothers of the innocent children who were so brutally killed and wounded at Nickel Mines. Instead of hate and revenge, they offered forgiveness.

As the news spread around the world, many considered these Amish families almost supernatural in their ability to forgive. But as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, what other options do we have? Christ's teachings are clear: Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you. In the Lord's Prayer, He taught us to forgive those who wrong us.

Man's natural inclination when wronged is to revenge. Even dedicated Christians struggle with conflicting emotions and sometimes have to forgive over and over. But we all have a choice. Love and forgiveness can hardly be separated. Neither can hate and revenge. God gave each of us a will which only we can exercise. We have to choose between love and hate, forgiveness and revenge. Our feelings are not sufficient for the task. We must make a conscious choice, and our feelings will follow. When we examine these decisions in the light of Christ's New Testament teachings, the right choice becomes obvious.

Comments and condolences flooded in from around the world regarding this unfortunate happening. One of the most unexpected messages came from the suffering Christians of North Korea, They wrote:

"At this difficult moment for Amish, we are with you in our prayers. We beg God to give your peace-loving families, whose children have died such a cruel and senseless death, the strength to overcome grief and anguish. Our hearts are with you in your anguish."

Undoubtedly the Amish families who endured this terrible loss would say, "We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10).

Forgiveness. When I forgive, I set a prisoner free, and that prisoner is myself.

"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you" (Matthew 6:14).

167 pages -- paperback
Dimensions: 6" x 9"
ISBN: 9781885270702
Copyright: 2007
TGS International (Christian Aid Ministries)


SUMMARY: The Happening by Harvey Yoder