Thursday, February 12, 2009

The SonLight Club

I am involved with a group who ministers to, and presents the gospel to, the Amish. If you're interested in the Amish at all, then you know that they are a peace-loving, hard-working, and very religious group of Americans. So, why, you may ask, should there be a group who calls themselves Mission to Amish People, and what is their purpose? Don't the Amish already know the gospel? Why do they need missionaries sent to them?

The surprising answer is that, even though many groups of Amish profess the gospel, a few of them rarely, if ever, present the gospel and the life-saving message of Jesus Christ, to their people!

Many Amish speak Pennsylvania-Dutch as their everyday language. They learn English at an early age and practice using it in their dealings with the English that do business with them and surround them. So, since their most understood language is Pennsylvania-Dutch, followed by English, why is their Bible written in High (Formal) German? German is their "religious" language and of all three languages, the LEAST understood by them. Make sense?

The Old Order and Swartzentruber Amish are especially caught up in the religion of their sect. The gospel is seldom presented and much emphasis is placed on obeying the Ordnung (List of rules they live by) and the local bishop. According to Joe and Esther Keim, the founders and directors of Mission to Amish People, fear is the overwhelming factor in "practicing" the Amish religion among the Old Order and Swartzentruber sects. Fear of displeasing the bishop. Fear of not obeying all the rules. Fear of disobeying parents. Fear of everything, but wait a minute....didn't Jesus say the perfect love cast out all fear? So where is the love of Jesus in this practice of religion?

My Amish in-laws are not Old Order or Swartzentruber Amish, and right from the beginning of my relationship with them, they presented the gospel. An uncle of my ( at the time) soon-to-be-husband, asked if I knew the Lord. So, it came as a complete surprise to me, years later, to discover that there are Amish who are as far removed from the saving grace of Jesus as any group of people can get!

It is to these groups of Amish that Mission to Amish People is directed. One of the ways in Joe and Esther, and their team at MAP Ministries presents the gospel and the true knowledge of the Bible is through the SonLight Club.

The SonLight Club is a collection of materials that presents lessons from the Bible to the Amish through mail. It involves lessons for children and adults. Many Amish receive these lessons, complete the work, and send them back to MAP for grading and rewards. This has been a very successful and well-received way to send the gospel to the Amish communities.

Lately, however, something is happening that the lessons are being returned less and less often. Joe and his team are concerned. They have asked that Bible-believing Christians join them in prayer for this particular ministry. They need guidance on what to do next, wisdom to discover the reason for this down-turn, and financial support to take the ministry of the SonLight Club in a new direction if it needs to be changed to continue to reach these communities for Christ.

If you have an interest in the Amish and in helping to present the gospel to many of the Amish communities that are in need of the Message of Grace, please go to Mission to Amish People and explore the many ways in which you can get involved with this wonderful and loving ministry. Be sure to listen to Joe's testimony, and read the Keim's testimonies of their own experience in meeting the Lord and how it changed their lives and their connections to their families and friends. This website is chock full of information and stories of the Amish.

The Amish are Joe and Esther's people, and their heart for them never looses focus: that all Amish come to know the Goodness and Grace of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


Joanne Sher said...

Thank you so much, Dee, for sharing this with us. What a tragic situation some of these Amish are in!

Laury said...

This was very interesting, Dee. I certainly will be praying.