A Luther for the twenty-first century
Posted February 19, 2009on:
I have just watched Trouble in Amish Paradise, a BBC documentary about two extraordinary men who have been excommunicated from their Old Order Amish church. Both still live according to the Amish rules and among the Amish people. The reason for their excommunication? Meeting to study the bible.
It is amazing to hear Ephraim talk about how, after years of believing that rule-keeping would get him to heaven, he read the bible in English for the first time and realised that all he needed to do was to trust Jesus – like watching the Reformation happening all over again. Through the film we see how his family’s faith is put to the test again and again as they are excommunicated from the church, shunned by family members, and then suffer through a personal tragedy. But Ephraim never stops smiling when he talks about Jesus – and he loves to talk about Jesus! The reason that he chooses to stay living among the Amish people and attending the church from which he has been excommunicated is so that he can share the gospel with them. He knows it would be easier for everyone if his family just left. For his son’s birthday treat, Ephraim takes him to the nearest town to distribute evangelistic leaflets and share the gospel. When his daughter is taken into hospital, Ephraim takes every opportunity to talk to the nurses and doctors about Jesus. It’s wonderful to see his faith as he talks about his prayer that Marie will be healed but his trust that if she isn’t, she’ll be taken up to glory. (The narrator has to explain that he is talking about the possibility of his daughter dying, because Ephraim is still smiling.)
It had never previously occurred to me that there was a need for missionaries to the Amish communities. But now I will be praying for Ephraim and his wife, Amanda, for Jesse, and for others like them, not mentioned in the film, and for revival in this church which bears the name of Christ while knowing nothing of His saving grace.
If you’re in the UK, you can see the film on the BBC iPlayer for the next week.
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