April 5, 2018
My name is Laura Eash, and I grew up in an Old Order Amish home. I enjoyed many aspects of my childhood like spending lots of time with my family. I also had fun taking care of horses and gardening to raise my own food.
Although my Dad was distant and had an explosive temper, he really did try to have a good relationship with me and my siblings. My mom, on the other hand, was often depressed and very overwhelmed with her work load; she was more distant with me. I spent most of my life, from about age five to twenty, convinced that my parents didn’t love me. Now that I don’t live with them anymore, I can see that they do indeed love me and have my whole life.
I left the Amish because I met Jesus as my personal Savior at the age of seventeen after going through a counseling program in Millersburg, Indiana. My counselor told me that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; he told me about a Jesus that wanted to heal me, stay with me, and be my family. I had never heard of a loving Jesus before, and He spoke to my hurting heart like nothing else. I accepted Jesus into my life and never looked back.
Through my new relationship with Christ and my new friendships developed with individuals who had gone through the same program, I began to realize that I was not required to live in the Amish to be saved. Also, there was no way for me to grow in my walk with God or to become the person He wanted me to be while also being Amish. I felt God calling me to come out from the culture, and this realization eventually resulted in my decision to leave at the age of nineteen.
My friend left the Amish a few days before I did and moved in with our current Pastor’s sister, Kathie, and her husband, Wayne. People in my community started to come after me because they blamed me for her leaving, so I ended up calling my friend, and while talking to her, Kathie offered to open her home to me as well. I decided to accept her offer and snuck away one evening while my parents and more of my siblings were not at home; I left a letter on my parents’ bedroom dresser.
Looking back, I can see how dangerous this decision could have been, but praise the Lord, Kathie and Wayne were evangelical Christians who believed in putting feet to their faith. They have helped me tremendously in transitioning into a non-Amish life; I could not have done it without them! Kathie never rushed me. She told me what was appropriate for a young Christian woman and gave me the freedom to choose what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it.
It was difficult to make the switch over to a completely new culture. I had already suffered from depression and anxiety while Amish, and while I never regretted leaving and loved the freedom I had to worship Jesus, the rejection from all my friends and family made my depression much worse. My new family got professional help for me, and three and a half years later, I am now in a place where I recognize the healing God has brought. That is not to say that there are not still days that I spend grieving over the loss of my community and the spiritual state of the people there, but God gives me strength to get through it.
When I first left the Amish, my family didn't want to see me unless I was in Amish clothes, so I didn't see them for several months. In fact, the first year after I left, I only saw them a few times. However, they always invited me to come back and visit, so after I got my driver's license, I went to see them at least twice a month; this has helped the relationship with them greatly.
I am now a sophomore at a Kentucky Mountain Bible college. I am planning to graduate with a B.A. in Biblical Studies and Languages. After that, I have a burning desire to open a half way house for people who are in the process of leaving the Amish. I am open to whatever the Lord has for me and know that He will continue to lead!
This testimony has been published with permission from the owner.
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