The most popular question we receive after someone learns that we used to be Amish is: "Why did you leave?"
We usually ask them how much time they have to listen to our answer. The super short answer is that we became born again, and our "new belief" no longer meshed with the Amish faith.
I have shared our story over a series of posts here on my blog, but today I'll share the highly condensed version we usually share with those asking that question.
It was our spring communion at church and we were all standing waiting to be served the bread and wine. My stomach was in knots and I felt cold and clammy all over. I felt from the very depths of my being that this is all fake, just a ritual and meant nothing. And these words kept running through my mind. "Your new moon and appointed feasts my soul hateth they are a trouble to me I am weary to bear them."
As we were driving home from church LV was extra quiet. That night after we were done with our chores we talked about the church service and we were both surprised to hear we had both felt sick and had the same words running through our mind at communion. We decided to see if they can be found in the Bible. We flipped through but really had no idea where to start looking. We read bits and pieces and LV announced we would read every day until we found some answers.
We remembered a verse we had memorized in school Matthew 7:7 (the ask, seek, knock verse) We decided to claim that as our own and prayed God would show us what He wanted us to see. We read faithfully, sure that somewhere in the Bible we would find those words we had heard. As we were reading we discovered there was a lot more to know and learn than we had ever imagined. We enjoyed the four gospels, but the rest of the New Testament seemed like a bunch of gibberish that made no sense. The Old Testament fascinated us with all the history and we kept reading and finally we came across the verse we had been looking for in Isaiah 1:14. We read it and the verses that followed and puzzled over why we had, had this verse in our minds and what we were supposed to do now that we had found it.
A month later we were in bed discussing once again, the Bible and what God wanted us to do. As we talked we asked ourselves if we were to die right now if we would go to heaven and what we saw was terrifying. We knew without a doubt we were on our way to hell, that even though we were "good" people we really had nothing whatsoever to give us hope to make it to heaven. We got out of bed and cried out to Jesus to save us, and He did. We could literally feel burdens lifted from us and the peace and joy that flooded through us I really can not describe. We knew without a doubt that Jesus had taken our sins, that we were forgiven, and something drastic had happened to us. An hour later when we got back to bed we were so happy that sleep eluded us. We spent the night praising God and looking forward to telling our parents and friends the happy news that we had finally found Jesus too.
The next day I called my Mom and was surprised and disappointed when her reaction was totally opposite of what I expected. I had always thought she had a close relationship with God and had expected her to rejoice at my news. Instead she cried and begged and pleaded for us not to listen to the false religion Satan was trying to get us to believe, I had to cry too, I knew what we had was not from Satan and it hurt to think Mom would call it that.
The news that we had gone bonkers spread through the Amish communities like wildfire. The following weeks were filled with calls from Amish bishops and concerned members to discourage our "strange belief" It didn't work. We knew what we had was the real thing, and the New Testament "gibberish" suddenly became clear and sweet and not gibberish at all. We were warned by the local bishop and ministers that we needed to repent and make a confession or else they would excommunicate us (give us to Satan) It was a no brainer, why would we repent that Jesus saved us? We left and have never been sorry that we did.
Those first few months seem surreal. God was so good to us. He sent people into our life, often complete strangers to encourage us in our new life. It has been over twelve years now, and when we look back we can see how we have come a long way, and we look forward to what God has for us in the future. He has been good to us, He is good to us, and we rest in the fact that He will continue until the end.