By Dr. Ted Baehr and Jeff Holder
The Lifetime Channel and its new outlet, the Lifetime Movie Network, are known for its interest in programming for women, some of it from a feminist worldview.
This Sunday evening, March 28, 2010, however, at 8 p.m. Eastern Time and 5 p.m. Pacific Time, the Lifetime Movie Network is giving viewers the chance to see something from a very strong, traditional Christian viewpoint. The occasion is the television premiere of a wonderful movie made for television called AMISH GRACE, based on the book by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt and David L. Weaver-Zercher.
AMISH GRACE is the true story how an Amish community forgives a man named Charlie Roberts who kills many of their young schoolgirls in cold blood. The movie is based on the true 2007 incident of a gunman who took Amish schoolgirls hostage and then killed many of them.
AMISH GRACE takes the events and creates a fictional Amish family to tell the story. The gunman kills Gideon and Ida’s 14-year-old daughter. Gideon leads a delegation of Amish men to tell Charlie’s distraught wife that they forgive her and him! Ida is unable to forgive, however, even though the rest of the community does.
One of the girls, who was in the school house but survived, comes out of a coma and tells Ida how her daughter had told Charlie the gunman that she would pray for him. Ida must confront the amazing act of grace that, if her daughter could forgive the gunman, what must she do?
AMISH GRACE is a compelling story that will bring tears and deeper understanding of Jesus Christ’s statement in the Lord’s Prayer, “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.” The movie’s Christian message of forgiveness is clear. There are also many references to Jesus and reading of Psalm 23 and quoting Matthew 6:14, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
There is much discussion of prayer and the promise of heaven in AMISH GRACE. And, while the Amish are quick to forgive, they say they are able to do so because they do not need to dole out punishment; the gunman will stand before a just God and will need to account for himself. Furthermore, the Amish note that forgiveness is not the same as a pardon or justice. Thus, forgiveness frees us from being destroyed by a wicked act.
Kimberly Williams-Paisley as Ida gives a terrific performance and brings life to a character that could have been one-dimensional. The story is well written and moves along quickly. It profoundly mines the emotional depth of the tragedy, but not in a maudlin manner.
AMISH GRACE is a gripping story that is profoundly touching and contains a message of grace that is sure to inspire. It will bring many to tears and many more to a deeper understanding of God’s amazing grace in Jesus Christ.