Light in the Darkness

The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” – John 1:5

Imagine for a moment hearing that someone’s husband – a man his wife loved and trusted – had inexplicably walked into an Amish schoolhouse and killed 10 little girls and then himself. Except you can’t imagine it, because this sort of thing only happens in movies or to people you don’t know. Or does it?

For 28-year-old Marie Monville, it was no movie, and it was no one else’s husband. It was her Charlie, a loving husband and father who exhibited no signs of violent behavior. And the people whose children he executed belonged to the gentle, kind neighbors she had long loved and respected. Her husband was gone. Her support system was fractured. Or was it?

Seven years after the bloodshed that marred a Lancaster, Pa., schoolhouse, Marie tells her story in One Light Still Shines. Hers is a story of faith, of unfathomable forgiveness and, ultimately, of redemption. She recalls crying out, “God, You have to fix this!” only to hear God speak to her soul, “I am not going to fix it. I am going to redeem it.”

Raised in a Christian family, Marie committed her life to Christ as a girl and abided in Him, seeing His hand in the ordinary and well as the extraordinary. 

She clung to Christ when she and Charlie lost their firstborn, Elise, who was born three months premature and a second pregnancy ended tragically.  But the very events that drove her into the arms of Jesus drove her husband toward what doctors described as a psychotic break. 

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

How could Marie ever outlive the label of the shooter’s wife? How could her children find healing and comfort and purpose? How could she remain in a community where she and her children would be a constant reminder of unthinkable pain? How could she love again? She would move forward, step by step, by faith, and she would come to see her story more as a love story than as a tragedy.

book_cover“No matter how tragic your circumstances, your life is not a tragedy. It is a love story. And in your love story, when you think all the lights have gone out, one light still shines,” she writes.

Supernatural strength buoyed her when she had to help their three children grasp what their father had done. Day by day, as she and her family tried to digest their new reality, God met her where she was. 

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength: They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

Right after the murders, Marie saw a startling sight: An Amish farmer walked toward her parents’ house, where she and her children were staying, and he embraced her father. Tears cascaded down her face as she saw the men, shoulders heaving, offer mutual support and share mutual grief.

A few days later at Charlie’s funeral, Marie wondered how she and her family could avoid the slew of reporters and photographers who were certain to invade their most private moment. It was then she spotted the rim of a black hat, followed by an entourage of hats and black capes that followed the processional. The Amish contingent lined up shoulder to shoulder with their backs to the media as they created a human barricade around Marie’s family.

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”– Matthew 5:16

“What I knew about loss and difficulty so far was this: Our circumstances do not prove or disprove God’s love for us. His love is not measured by our circumstances. It is meted out instead in terms of His sacrifice, His grace, and His redemption,” Marie writes. Still, in the face of her pain, she asked God to help her love her life.

“I am forever a redemptionist, confident that, in Christ, nothing is wasted, but all will be transformed to a spiritual gain,” Marie writes. For Marie, and for all whose hope is in Christ, that one light still shines, and it shall never be extinguished.

To order a copy of Marie Monville’s book, click here