Published May 16, 2017

Shelia Shares
"Lessons from the Amish"

Recently a Gospel music bus tour was in our area. I had the privilege of addressing the visitors, telling them about the Amish here in Lancaster County and relating some Biblical truths.

They were scheduled to tour that first day and I knew they probably wanted to see the Amish and their way of life. Most often people think of the different way of dressing that the Amish have, their horse-and-buggy transportation rather than cars, houses without curtains and clotheslines full of solid colored clothing. We tend to see the "peculiar" in other people.

Here are two stories I related.

Auctions are pretty common in our area. They are designed to raise money for Christian schools, volunteer fire companies, missions, churches and other charitable organizations.

It was February 26, 2016. A group of over a hundred people were gathered in a barn near the town of Gap, Pennsylvania. There were Amish, conservative Mennonites and others from the community raising money for schools overseas.

It was a rainy night, but people came and the auction began. The wind and the rain increased. The sound increased until it sounded like a train coming towards the barn. Someone stood and said, "We need to get out of here." But, as the walls of the barn began to sway and even to heave, they sat back down. It was too late to leave.

As they watched in silence, the roof of the barn lifted. They waited without talk.

The noise began to pass.

One voice started singing, "Oh Lord, my God, When I in awesome wonder."

Another voice joined in, "Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars. (And they probably could see the stars.) I hear the rolling thunder. Thy power throughout The universe displayed."

By the time they reached the chorus, everyone within that barn (what was left of it) was singing.

"Then sings my soul, My Savior, God, to Thee. How great thou art. How great thou art. Then sings my soul, My Savior, God, to Thee. How great Thou art. How great Thou art."

The next morning at daybreak the Amish, the Mennonites, the volunteer fire company men and others were at the barn. They were ready to put a new roof on that big red barn. Someone provided cases of water, soft drinks and fruit drinks for the workers. Food was provided for lunch. By evening, the barn had a fresh new roof. (That would never happen so quickly in "English" society.)

On to another story. You probably heard about the shooting in the West Nickel Mines Amish schoolhouse in 2006. Ten girls were shot and five of them died. Then the 32-year-old shooter took his own life.

Instead of seeking revenge for the shootings, the Amish offered forgiveness. They expressed forgiveness for the killer, Charles Roberts. They visited the Roberts' family, expressing sympathy and comfort in their loss. The Amish attended Roberts' funeral and invited his family to the funeral of one of the Amish girls that was killed.

Why did they forgive? They said they wanted to have no association with evil, and to attain that, they knew they needed to forgive. And they did.

If you're blessed to visit Amish country, I hope you can look beyond the plain dress and the horse-and-buggy travel. I hope you can see the mother who loves her children. I hope you can see the father who wants to provide for his family in simple material ways and in spiritual ways, as he tries to shelter them from a world filled with evil. I hope you can see the Amish as people — people, who know and rely on a great God. People, who in the midst of violence, whether a weather storm or tragedy created by man, turn to God. And people, who in their life storms, are an example of following Jesus' example of forgiveness.

We could all do well to follow their example.

- Shelia

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