March 2017 MAP Update
| P.O. Box 128 | 575 US Highway 250 | Savannah OH 44874 | Office: (419) 962-1515|
* Testimonies: Aaron, John, Eli, Noah and Clara
|Personal Greetings, By Joe Keim|
Except for a few days here and there, we have been enjoying a mild Ohio winter with minimal amounts of snow. We have also, for the most part, stayed healthy and escaped the flu bugs that seem to always make their rounds; hopefully, this has been the case at your house too.
We are excited to begin our newsletter by bringing you an exclusive update on the New Beginnings housing ministry. The preparation for this greatly needed expansion is now going into year three. During this three-year stretch, the Lord has taught us (particularly me) the reality and true definition of the word patience. I was aware from the beginning that a $350,000 building project would take time. Truthfully, the project seemed so big, at beginning, that I hesitated to start. However, Lord reminded me again and again that we serve a big God, who owns the entire universe and wants to do much ministry.
How it All Began
As we prayed diligently for wisdom and guidance, MAP received an unexpected donation of $45,000 in the mail. A short while later, another surprise showed up; this time, the check was for $100,000. Both financial donors requested that MAP use their gift toward a housing ministry. With such great confirmation from God, we couldn't help but believe the Lord was telling us to move forward with New Beginnings, so we began to invite you and others to join hands with God and us.
As of today, I humbly report to you that forty-three additional individuals and churches have jumped on board and become partners with New Beginnings. As you can see in the chart below, we have officially moved past the half-way point and are right at 53% of what is needed to complete the apartments.
Our Ministry Partners
In honor of our precious and appreciated team of partners, David Garwood, our son-in-law, has created a virtual Legacy Wall in recognition of each donor, and we have placed it on our website.
As new donors join, we will add their names to our Legacy Wall. Some day, our virtual Legacy Wall will be transferred from a digital file on our website to a wooden wall plaque with metal name plates; it will then be hung at the New Beginnings Homestead.
The Legacy Wall will serve as a continual reminder of a time when God’s family pulled together and built a place for young people to begin life on the right path — a path that goes beyond the grave and into eternity.
In 2 Timothy 1:5, the Apostle Paul reminded young Timothy that he was a third generation Christian. He wrote: “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”
Would you agree that someone saw the value of helping grandma Lois get started on the right path? And because they did, there was a ripple effect that lasted for at least three generations, and most likely more!
The truth is, if you choose to partner with MAP and New Beginnings, you are not only making it possible for us to build an apartment, you are also investing in the lives of young people who often have little or no direction. These young individuals uproot themselves with hardly any scriptural foundation, and try to integrate into a culture that is vastly different and filled with many distractions. If you and I can help them start on the right path, they will, in time, go on to raise their own families on the right path. This is a huge reality that begs the Christian community to come together!
Recent Testimonies of the Former Amish:
Aaron left the Amish and experienced hard times, becoming homeless for a while. In the few short months that he has been with us, we have helped him get counseling, a full time job, and his own apartment. In the process of helping him physically, he opened his heart to Jesus Christ and was gloriously saved on September 4, 2016. Since then, he has hardly missed a Sunday school class or church service. In the picture, he is sharing his testimony before being baptized. He loves MAP and comes to the office about every day to help with mailings before going to his full time work.
John has lived in our apartment for several months; he faced many challenges since leaving the Amish. At one time, he gave up and moved back with his parents in NY, but then decided to leave for a second time. We meet every week for Bible study, and I’m also helping him with organization and finances. He has come a long way, and we are proud of his accomplishments! By the way, two of his sisters also lived in our apartment when they left, and both of them came to faith in Jesus Christ while with us.
Eli called me up one Friday afternoon and said, “Joe, I have nowhere to sleep tonight—can I come to your place?” He too had made some decisions in life that brought on big consequences including prison. While in prison, he completed many of our correspondence Bible studies. He had become quite acquainted with MAP by the time he was released in January of this year.
We have helped Eli with many needs including counseling, driving lessons, and housing. He also has not missed one Sunday school class or church service. In February, we gave Eli a used laptop and enrolled him in a two year Bible school; to give you an idea of how hungry he is for God’s Word, he covered six weeks of study in one week. Eli comes to the office quite often to help with the mailings.
MAP also helped Eli’s wife and five children when they left the Amish two years ago. Today, we are still helping them get on their feet. Life has indeed been very challenging for this family.
Noah (center) came to MAP for help after spending several months in an alcohol recovery facility. His dad, father of fifteen children in Berne, IN, was an alcoholic for many years as well. When Noah almost got killed last September and was arrested for too much alcohol consumption, his dad stopped drinking cold turkey and sent his son to an alcohol recovery unit. Today, Noah has been alcohol free for 192 days.
A few days after Noah moved in with us, he decided to go to a Wednesday night church service with my brother John (right). The Holy Spirit got ahold of his heart, and by the time he got back to the house, Noah was bawling and asking that we show him how to get saved. On February 15, 2017 at about 10 pm, with tears running down his cheeks, Noah Graber was born again. He too has enrolled in our Bible school and wishes to get his GED, a job, a car, and eventually, his own apartment. Just like Eli and Aaron, Noah loves to come to the office and sit with other volunteers, who help with the Bible study correspondence mailings.
Clara left her Amish family in Smicksburg, PA. After falling on hard times and living with various people and in a homeless shelter, she ended up in Apple Creek, OH where she received counseling for over a month. Someone gave her my cell phone number, and after several days of communication, she decided to come to MAP for more help with a driver’s license, job, and eventually her own apartment.
In the past few weeks, we have also been heavily involved in the life of an Amish father, who is now going through a $20,000 alcohol program in MN for the second time. Through his situation, I have had the opportunity to meet with numerous support group members and have learned of so many others who are battling alcohol in Amish communities. The needs are endless! Jesus is the answer!
— Joe Keim
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|Jeptha and Fannie Yoder|
As I write, Jeptha and Fannie Yoder are in Michigan beginning their first week of training under Caring for the Heart ministry. Over the next two years, they will go through a minimum of thirteen weeks of training sessions to prepare for their ministry positions as counselors and house parents at MAP; this is a huge and exciting step for MAP and the Yoders.
As mentioned in previous updates, the Yoders are a great example of selling their farm and construction business to follow God’s call. On Sunday, June 11, Esther and I plan on participating in a special “sending off” service at their home church. The following day, we will help them move to Savannah, Ohio.
Thanks Pastor Tom Robins and Faith Baptist Church for the many years you have invested in this couple and their children. Surely, this is the fruit and outcome of your labor.
— Joe Keim
While growing up in church, I listened and tried to make sense of what I heard and read in the Bible; I always hoped I was good enough to get to heaven.
As I got older, I began to resist the Amish rules and got a radio. On Sunday nights, I listened to Moody Radio and was intrigued by all the testimonies I heard. The only problem was, I thought salvation sounded too easy.
In 2001, a group of Amish boys and myself were at a truck stop watching television. As we were watching, a guy came in and started asking us questions. After talking for about two hours, the man explained to me how to effectively pray and have a real relationship with Jesus Christ. I prayed with the man, and he told me that he would see me in heaven if not before; I have not seen him since.
As time went on, and I met a girl named Fannie. We dated for a few weeks, but then her parents decided to move to Illinois, and we had to end our relationship. After she moved, I didn’t know where or how to get in contact with her again.
It was during this time of my life that I was not growing very much spiritually. I started racing horses on the race track and turned my focus to that. One day, the horse I was racing broke his leg, and I had to put him down. A couple weeks later, my next best horse in line lost the ability to balance herself, and the vet couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
First, he took away Fannie, and then he took away two of the horses that I was very proud of. It felt like God was taking everything away from me.
One evening, the horse that was experiencing balancing issues started to show signs of dying, which scared me. I decided to pray, trust God, and go to bed. The next time I went into the barn, I found my horse standing and eating. I could hardly believe it and knew that God had given me the miracle I had asked for.
At this point, Fannie had lived in Illinois for over a year. I still hadn’t forgotten about her, though, and I started praying. God began to work right away!
Fannie started writing in the “botshaft” (Amish Newspaper), and in one of her articles, she included her contact information.
I gathered up the courage and wrote her a letter. Two weeks later, I received a letter from her in reply; she told me that if I would move to her area, she would be willing to continue our relationship. So I made the decision to move 900 miles away from my parents in Pennsylvania and start a new life in Illinois.
In January of 2009, after living in Illinois for almost six months, Fannie opened up to me and told me that she was being abused at home. She decided that she wanted to go to Pennsylvania for a couple of weeks, but that she would return back in February; we made plans to leave the Amish when she returned.
While Fannie was in Pennsylvania, she visited my family; her dad found out and got upset. When he called to express his anger to Fannie, she decided to confront him for abusing her. Her father tried to tell her to be quiet and to come home, but she realized she was too scared to go home.
Fannie called and left a voicemail on my phone at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday. By noon that same day, I had bus tickets in my hands and was off to Pennsylvania to meet her; we immediately got her help from a counselor.
That summer, we decided to join the Allensville Mennonite church, and by September 5, 2009, we were ready to commit to one another in marriage.
— Jeptha Yoder
At a young age, I learned how to live life as an Amish girl; I helped with housework, gardening, and more. I was the middle child of seven and always grew up in fear of my dad. I tried my best to stay in line and read my German Bible even though I didn’t understand it.
When I was seventeen, I received a card from my friend that said, “Jesus loves you” in it; this phrase made me wonder what it would be like to have someone care about me.
It was at this same time that I began dating a man named Jeptha. Soon after we started dating, my family moved to Illinois, and I was told I wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend until I was eighteen (I was seventeen at the time), so we parted ways.
My family moved to a new Amish community where they preached the Word of God more clearly, so I had an easier time understanding the Bible. I began to find an interest in reading it on my own, and I also began reading a book called “Light from Heaven,” which was about a boy getting saved.
As a child, I had been abused. There was a lot of insecurity in our home, and many nights, I would go to bed struggling with my life and crying. One night, I felt the presence of God telling me that I could come to Him. It was on this night that I gave my life to Jesus. I didn’t know how I could be sure that I was saved, but God gave me peace and assurance from his Word.
I soon began to pray for Jeptha because I still didn’t want to let go of our relationship. I picked up the phone to dial Jeptha’s number a couple of times, but I never followed through; I knew that I would be disobeying my parents if I did.
I still felt very insecure at home and couldn’t talk to anyone about what was going on in my life. I would sit in the living room pretending to read, but instead, I would cry. I wanted to talk to someone in hopes of taking some of the weight off of my chest, but instead, I bottled it all in.
One day, after putting in a long day at school as a teacher’s assistant, I came home to find a letter in the mailbox. To my surprise, I realized it was a letter from Jeptha. As I sat in the living room and read his letter, I began to cry. It had been two years since Jeptha and I had parted ways.
I handed the letter to my dad, so he could read it. For the first time, I saw an attitude change in my dad toward Jeptha; this was a huge answer to my prayers.
Jeptha eventually moved to my area, and we began texting and sometimes calling late at night. One night, I finally gathered enough courage to tell Jeptha what was happening to me at home. I wanted to get away, so we made plans to leave the Amish in February of 2009.
In January, I visited my sister in Pennsylvania. As I was visiting my sister, I decided to also stop by to see Jeptha’s family. My sister found out about my visit with Jeptha’s family and told my parents, which made my dad very angry.
When my dad called to confront me about visiting Jeptha’s family, I used it as an opportunity to confront him about his abuse to me growing up. He told me to keep things a secret and to come home. It was at this time that I realized I was too scared to go home, so I called Jeptha instead. We decided it was time to leave the Amish.
By Sunday, Jeptha was in Pennsylvania and had arranged for a friend to pick me up and provide me with a place to stay.
We started going to church together with our friends, and by September, we were married. Since our wedding day, God has blessed us with two beautiful children!
— Fannie Yoder
Help Us Build New Beginnings
one percent at a time.
Totals are calculated and updated on a regular basis.
To see the entire list of shares and building items, go to our home page.
|The Power of Teamwork|
Daniel (front center) recently learned he had cancer that started in his knee and, in time, spread to other areas of his body. At just 28 years old, married and the father of a 2-yr old, he began the difficult journey of chemo treatments.
What happened next has been absolutely amazing. Friends, both known and unknown, rallied around Daniel and his family. In a few short weeks, over 3,000 pizzas were made and delivered to help with hospital bills. In addition, a GoFundMe account was set up and quickly maxed out. Later this week, friends are doing a silent auction.
In his fight against cancer, Daniel has continually given God the glory for using him to be a testimony.
The picture above shows Daniel’s former Amish friends shaving their heads in support of his hair loss. He is a loved man! Prayers would be appreciated.
— Joe Keim
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