God redeemed the tragic events of
my life, author tells audience
Story and Photo
By Duane Good,
Marie Monville and her
husband Dan greet audience members and
sign books after her presentation.
At its core, the story of
Easter is one in which divine
intervention transforms a seemingly bad
situation to make it a source of hope
for the future.
It’s a story that Marie
Monville no doubt can relate to very
The Lancaster County
resident has lived through the horror of
knowing her husband was responsible for
the killing of five children at the West
Nickel Mines Amish school near Strasburg
before taking his own life in 2006.
And yet, as she told an
audience at Millersburg Area High School
earlier this month, she believes God has
taken that – as well as other tragedies
in her life – and redeemed them into
something positive and inspirational.
Now remarried (her husband Dan
accompanied her to Millersburg), Monville
frequently shares her story throughout
Pennsylvania and other states. She also has
authored a book, ‘‘One Light Still Shines,’’
about her life before and after the Nickel Mines
‘‘I knew He was going to work
in the situation.’’ Growing up, Monville
said her two main goals in life were to be a
wife and a mother. She reached the first
milestone soon after she graduated high school,
when she married Charles Carl ‘‘Charlie’’
Roberts IV. She lost her first two children
before eventually bearing a daughter and two
sons to Roberts.
‘‘I was living the dream I had.
And I was also finding God taking me through the
broken places in our lives,’’ she said.
Though she and Roberts attended
church and raised their children in their
Christian faith, Monville said Roberts remained
troubled about losing the earlier children but
would not seek outside help.
‘‘I could see Charlie was not on
the same path I had found, but no one saw
anything that could have foretold what would
happen,’’ she said.
What happened, of course, was
that on the morning of Oct. 2, 2006, Roberts
entered the Amish school and took 10 students,
all females, hostage. When the tragedy ended,
five of the girls were dead, five more were
injured and Roberts had killed himself.
That morning, he had left a note
to Monville which included the words, ‘‘I’m not
‘‘When I started to hear the
police and ambulance sirens, I knew it had to be
related (to Roberts), but I didn’t know
beforehand how it would all unfold,” Monville
said April 4.
‘‘When I got the details of what
had happened, I was at a complete loss; I didn’t
even know how to pray or what to say to God,’’
she added. ‘‘Somehow, I just knew He was going
to work in the situation.”
Monville said of the many things
she had to do following the tragedy, the hardest
was telling her daughter Abigail and sons Bryce
and Carson what had happened to their father.
‘‘I told them that their dad had
made very bad choices and that people died as a
result,’’ she recalled.
She later said that she makes
sure she tells her children about positive
aspects of her marriage to Roberts and that she
stays in touch with his family.
‘‘I don’t know why God allowed
this to happen. People make choices and those
choices can affect the lives of those around
them,’’ Monville said. ‘‘It doesn’t mean that
God isn’t there. Our circumstances don’t prove
or disprove God’s love. I know He is walking
‘Doorways of hope.’
According to Monville, not long after the
tragedy she prayed and believed God was telling
her, ‘‘I’m not going to fix the situation, but I
am going to redeem it.’’
In the ensuing days and weeks,
she said she and the children experienced God
doing just that.
One of the earliest experiences
was the response of the Amish community – many
of whom she and Charlie knew personally.
‘‘They let me know that they had
forgiven Charlie and that they extended grace to
us. That was a huge weight off my shoulders,
especially in giving an explanation to the
children about (Roberts’) choices,’’ Monville
said to her audience, which included a strong
delegation of Amish men, women and children.
Another came in the form of the
countless letters the family received from
strangers, saying that Monville and the children
were in their prayers. An additional theme, she
said, was the Bible verse about God having plans
not to harm them, but to give them hope for the
‘‘While we all experience pain
and brokenness, they are not the story of our
lives,’’ she told her audience at the April 4
Referencing the Old Testament
book of Hosea, Monville said, ‘‘God was able to
take my ‘places of trouble’ and turn them into
‘doorways of hope’ for me as well as for
Monville said late last week that
she received a positive response from the
audience and hopes people who heard her speak,
or read her book, grasp how they are loved
deeply by God – that he loves them enough to
walk with them as they journey through the pain
and into the future he has planned for them.
The event was co-sponsored by
Free Grace Brethren in Christ Church and by
Millersburg Area High School’s Campus Club
(Sentinel, March 25 issue). Club adviser Ted
Book said many people facing life struggles
received encouragement from her presentation.
‘‘This was a timely event for
many people,’’ Book said. “We were very
fortunate to have her come and share her life
Monville again will speak locally
Friday, July 11 during the 2014 Lykens Valley
Campmeeting in Elizabethville.