We Are Placing You In The BanJanuary 26, 2013
The following letter was written and signed by Lovina's bishop and four lay ministers; this happened soon after she left the Amish.
Lastly, you may send Lovina a comment at the bottom of the page. Please consider encouraging her as she continues her spiritual journey; her new found faith in Christ and freedom from man-made rules and traditions.
Underneath the Bishop's letter is Lovina's response.
With great love I want to write this letter. Wonder how this finds you? The reason for writing is probably not surprising to you. On behalf of your decision [leaving the Amish church], we now also have to make a decision. According to Glaubens Artikel #16 (which is based on Bible), we need to put out of the church whoever is not willing to stay with what he or she promised at baptism – or comes in unfruitful works of darkness. If we do not hear from you before Sunday, January 27, we will be voting with the church to do so. This will give you six weeks to decide. If we do not hear from you within those six weeks, we have no choice but to put you in the ban.
We would much rather see you come back and make things right then this [banning you]. The only way to have peace with yourself and God is to make things right with God and the church.
According to your letter, you seemed concerned about your parents being hurt by the way people are treating them. I think their biggest hurt is probably your decision, and the best thing you could do to ease that pain would be to come back home and make things right.
If anything we did or did not do, that was not right, that caused you to make the decision you made, I think we would all be willing to make things right.
In Love, Bishop Yoder
Lovina's Response to her Bishop
Dear Bishop Yoder and Church:
I hope this finds you doing well in every area of your life. I wanted to let you know that I received your letter. The content of the letter was not a surprise, since I was aware of the fact that when members of the Amish church leave, they are placed in the ban.
It is important to me that you know; I have not turned my back on the Lord. My desire to know God is stronger today than it has ever been. Except for one Sunday, I have attended a Bible believing church every week since leaving the Amish three months ago.
I do have some questions for you: What makes you believe that I am living unfruitful works of darkness?
- Is it because I left the Amish church?
- Because I don't live with my parents anymore?
- Because I wear store-bought clothes?
- Because I live in a house that has electricity?
- Because I drive a car instead of a buggy?
It can’t be because I turned my back on God, because I haven’t. Neither can it be because I stopped going to church, because I have continued to go to church. In fact, where I go, they meet every week; not every other week. Also, since I left the Amish, I met a lady named Chris. She sits down with me every week and helps me get a better understanding of God and Jesus. I have learned so much.
During a church service one day, the preacher said something about salvation and how we can be right with God. I was so convicted of my sins and wanted God to forgive me. That day I called on God’s name and asked to be saved, just like He tells us to do in Romans 10.
Romans 10:12-13: “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
That verse helped me to see there is no difference between English and Amish, because the same Lord hears both cultures of people, if they call on Him for salvation. I also understand that verse as saying, “For whosoever (that’s me) shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
When I called on the Lord that day, He saved me from all my sin and gave me eternal life. The feeling I got that day was so real. I will never forget it. God took all my sins away and gave me the free gift of eternal life, just like the Bible says:
Romans 6:23: “…the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
As I understand God’s Word, being Amish, driving a buggy, wearing Amish clothes and going without electricity, is not going to save anybody from their sins and give them eternal life. Only faith in Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for us will save a person from sin and hell.
Does that mean a person can live any way they want and still be saved? No! Those who are truly saved will live a godly life and obey God commandments. And I guess that leads me to ask the question, what are God’s commandments?”
A few years before I left the Amish, I questioned an older member of the church about some things that the Amish believe and he did not have an answer for me. This kind of confused me and I began to wonder: are our man-made church rules the same as God’s commandments? The answer to this question, as I have learned from the Bible is clear. They are not the same. Consider what Jesus said about man-made rules and God’s commandants:
Mark 7:6-9: “…as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”
Also, please consider the following verses that were taken from the Book of Romans.
Romans 10:1-3: “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
I sure hope you read my entire letter. I do not want to pretend that I know more than you, but wanted to let you know what I have learned from reading the Bible and other Christians.
Before I close, I would like to say: if you decide to put me in the ban it is your choice, not mine. Just remember, one day you will have to stand in front of God and give an account for your decision.
You are always welcome to write me another letter, if you want. I wish you and the church well. Let’s pray for each other.
Note: We encourage you to leave a comment for Lovina.
This testimony has been published with permission from the owner.
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"Thank you, Joe and Esther, for giving of your time and sharing with us about the MAP Ministry. We sure learned a lot about the Amish folks. I watched and have listened to the CD’s. I was impressed about your love and concern for the Amish People. My wife and I would like to support the ministry on a monthly basis. Will also pray for you’s. Thank you for the 1st class ministry that you run. "