|PO Box 128/575 State Route 250 N, Savannah OH 44874 Office: (419) 962-1515|
|Today, I Found God!|
About 2 months ago, I received a call from Stephen, telling me that he was looking around on the internet and found a video of our ministry to the Amish, which, in turn, led him to our web site. After about 15 minutes of conversation, both of us suddenly realized that we only lived one town apart from each other.
For the next week or two, Stephen and I spent a lot of time on the phone and also in Bible studies. In that time, I learned from Stephen that he had been born and raised in a very conservative Mennonite setting, very similar to the Old Order Amish teachings that I grew up with.
Stephen said to me, “Joe, I left the Old Order Mennonites about 6 month ago and checked myself in at a hospital and for the past 6-months I have isolated myself from the outside world.” He went on to explain how he had become very bitter toward his church and family for various reasons that took place in his lifetime. In fact, he said, “for the past two years, my parents and the church send me to various counseling centers in OH, IN and MI, while spending more then $100,000 to get help for me, and Joe, nothing helped.”
One day, as Stephen and I were traveling along in my car, I suddenly realized that the Holy Spirit was really working on Stephen. Up until this point, Stephen had always told me that he thought he was saved, but now all of a sudden he wasn’t sure.
I pulled my car off the side of the road, got my Bible out of my glove box and began to share God’s plan of salvation. About 15 minutes later, I could tell that the blinding scales were falling from Stephen's eyes. And in their place, big tears of joy started to form and run down his cheeks. All of a sudden, he cried out loud, “I have found the Lord, I have found the Lord! … for two years, I have prayed fervently that God would help me find Him and just a minute ago, I found Him! … Now I know that I am saved!”
Ever since that day, four weeks ago, Stephen has been volunteering his days at the MAP Ministry, and Lord willing, he is getting baptized on September 5th.
He has gone to most of his family members, apologizing for his anger toward them, while also sharing the gospel with every single one of them. He is sure that God has called him to ministry and would like to work for MAP full time. To read Stephen’s testimony, “From the Pits of Hell to the Highest Heaven”, please CLICK HERE.
Stephen is one of three young people who have gotten saved in the past few weeks; two are getting baptized this Lord’s Day. It has been exciting to see the Living God of the Universe work in human hearts.
|The Testimony of Monroe Raber
The testimony you are about to read is 4 pages long and will most likely bring tears to your eyes. It was written by Monroe, a young man who left his Amish family in Michigan, moved to Ohio, and in time, started dating an English girl named Tiffany.
All seemed well until Monroe was torn between going back to his parents, who are still Amish, or staying with Tiffany, who grew up English. However, in time, Tiffany was able to let go of Monroe, and as Monroe prepares to go back to his Amish family and settle down, God, out of the blue, uses a country preacher in Southern Ohio to preach the gospel, give an invitation and both Monroe and Tiffany go to the altar and cry out for the very salvation of their souls.
Finding salvation in the midst of so much turmoil made things even more complicated for the two. However, with the Savior now residing in their lives, they were able to see things in a different perspective.
One last thing: What Monroe is about to describe in his testimony happens to thousands of Amish teenagers all over America. Few, if any, could have put it in words like Monroe does. And I might add; I am very thankful that he took the time to write it out, because many former Amish will read this and find comfort in that someone else has traveled the same road they did and can relate.
And now, here is Monroe...
I was born a typical Amish boy in central Michigan. Growing up, my brothers and I did what normal Amish boys do. Since my dad did construction, and we only had a 1½ acre farm, we got bored a lot. I have 2 brothers, one just older than me and one just younger than me. I’m sure we caused mom quite a few gray hairs, trying to keep up with us mischievous little guys. We had goats for milk, so often times we rode goats, led them around, hitched them to sleds in the winter time, chased cats, climbed trees, rode wagons.
I remember one incident quite clearly. It was a nice winter day so we decided to hitch a couple of young goats to a sled, much like a team of horses. Well, we got them hitched up (using baler twine for harness) but they didn’t really want to work together very well. Soon mom called us to lunch so we just tied them up in the barn, intending on resuming our training after lunch. But when we got out to the barn, we were very disappointed. Our beloved sled was torn to pieces--with the goats standing there tied up and looking very innocent! I think that’s the last time we tried that. But all in all, life was great, simple, fun, and I was very content.
When I was thirteen, we moved to a more liberal church (fewer rules) in southwestern Michigan. Life became interesting then, adjusting to the new rules, having more modern conveniences such as blinkers and mirrors on our buggies, etc., but things didn’t work out. Mom and dad didn’t like it there, I guess, so we moved back to the old community with the stricter rules. That’s when my rebellious streak came out. I didn’t want to give all of those things up. (I only mentioned a few as an example. There were quite a lot of other things that were different, also.) So I started hiding things from my parents: battery watch, harmonica, etc.
About a year later, we moved to the southern part of Michigan. That community had similar rules to the one I grew up in, so the rebellious streak continued. I met some very good buddies there that also didn’t like the rules of that church. One thing led to another, and we soon had little hand-held radios with headphones so we could listen to country music for a while when we went to bed, and NASCAR races on Sunday afternoon. Then along came the CD players, DVD players, cell phones and then finally, drinking. Of course, the main purpose for cell phones was to text “English” girls. All of this was kept secret from my brothers, sisters, parents and the church.
I soon became the age of baptism (in that church, the usual baptism age was eighteen). I didn’t want to get baptized, I didn’t like the rules there and I wasn’t at peace with the church. My parents were, of course, very saddened when I told them I had no intentions of getting baptized with the rest of the group my age. Somehow, the ministers found out and talked to my mom and dad. They pretty much stated that I better get baptized or they were going to hold my parents responsible. So I did get baptized, very unwillingly, taking it very lightly, to try to keep the peace. And I also did try to straighten up a little and follow the rules more, but I wasn’t saved. I didn’t have Jesus as my personal Savior and thus my intentions didn’t last for more than a couple of weeks. I was back into the same things again, maybe even worse than before.
And then it happened! My mom and Dad found my cell phone at the neighbors’ where I had plugged it in to charge. Turns out they had been noticing that I spent a lot of time at the neighbors, where I often had to feed horses, and were getting suspicious about it. They decided to investigate and found my phone. At first, they didn’t tell me they found it. They just told me that I wasn’t allowed to hang out with my buddies at the Sunday evening singings anymore. I asked them why, but all they would tell me was they found out something that they didn’t like about me. I was devastated. I didn’t have a clue what they found; I had so many things I wasn’t supposed to have. The suspense was terrible.
Then, one day, they told me they had found my phone and were very displeased. The devastation just got worse. They said I would have to give them my phone so they could get rid of it. My rebellion boiled over. I was sick of leading a secret life, I was sick of all the rules, I was sick of being pushed around. I decided that’s it; I’m leaving my home and the Amish. I was going to run away.
I called my buddy’s brother that had already left the Amish, and asked if he knew of somebody that would give me a home and a job. He called several people, then called back and told me that he found somebody that would do it; I was tickled! I was leaving! Then one Saturday night, after I had my bath, I went out behind the barn so nobody could hear me call my buddy, and told him I was leaving. I used some very strong cuss words, telling him I was sick of this Amish life and was leaving. After the conversation was over, I went around to the front of the barn to go to the house. I happened to glance in the open barn door as I passed and thought I saw something white (it was pretty dark). So I walked back around the barn and peered around the corner to see what it was. Much to my dismay, my mom and dad walked out of the barn towards the doddy house (a house that was right across the driveway, where my grandpa and grandma lived). Soon I heard loud sobs from the doddy house, and the tearful voices of my parents blurting out “Monroe is going to leave!”
I was now more devastated than ever! I found out later that my mom got suspicious of me sneaking behind the barn and decided to eavesdrop. She had heard every word I’d said. I didn’t want to go face my parents but I knew I had to sooner or later. As I entered the doorway, my mom, who had never hugged me, came over to me, grabbed my arm, and hung on to me like a person who was drowning. A fresh flood of tears came from both me and her when she sobbed “Oh, Monroe! What have we done? Why do you want to leave us?” I couldn’t speak. I cried like a baby, but I had to go. I had too much rebellion for even that to break my strong spirit. They talked to me way into the night, trying to get me to change my mind, but I was too stubborn. I left the next evening. My family was heartbroken.
At first, life was great! I loved being English! I could watch TV, ride a bike, and when I got my license, I could drive! Wow! That was the most thrilling experience of all! I pushed God and my family to the back of my mind and “enjoyed” life. We went boating, tubing, snowmobiling, four wheeling and all the other fun things I never got to do. Occasionally, my parents would write to me and let me know what was going on in the family, and always asked when I was coming back. My answer was always, not yet. I was having too much fun.
A little over one year after I left, I met this wonderful girl, Tiffany. She was so nice and sweet, I fell in love with her almost instantly. I was definitely living life at its fullest then. Her family accepted me very well and I was very content.
Then my parents invited me home for Christmas. I already had plans, so I told them, I couldn’t make it, but would be there the next weekend.
When I finally got there, my parents had a very good talk with me and I broke down. I missed my family. I missed the simple Amish life. I told them I wanted to come home. But then when I told Tiffany I planned on going home, and that I had to leave her, she was devastated. It broke her heart. She loved me. I loved her. We cried together long into the night. She tried to be very unselfish about it, saying that she didn’t want to let me go, but if she had to, she would, and she would just have to be glad for the short time she had me. That went straight to my heart! I started thinking that I couldn’t leave her, so I wrote my parents and told them I couldn’t come home. They wrote me back saying they missed me and wanted me back, and also wanted me to make things right with God so I could be with them in heaven. Now I was torn. One week I decided I was going to go back, and the next week I decided to stay with Tiffany.
Finally, Tiffany suggested we go to church, so we did. The pastor was very nice. He noticed something wasn’t right and asked us about it. We both tried to explain through our tears what was going on. He tried to help, but since he wasn’t from the Amish, he didn’t understand my feelings completely.
The next week went by in a daze. I was very confused. One minute I was going to go back, and the next I was going to stay out with Tiffany. That next Sunday, we went to a different church and for the first time since I left the Amish, I felt at home in this church. Even me, a sinner, could feel a very strong presence of God. That night, I believe I told Tiffany I was staying out here in the English world. I’d found a wonderful church and felt like I might be forgiven by God for not obeying my parents and the Amish church. But the very next day, my feelings wavered. I was homesick again. I broke her heart by telling her I wasn’t sure I could stay out here. I hated hurting her like this! I needed help badly, but I didn’t know where to turn.
Then my aunt, who had left the Amish some time ago, called me and started witnessing to me. I was desperate. I soaked it all in. She started telling me what it’s like to be born again, and instantly, I felt a strong need to be like that, but still wasn’t sure what and how I was going to do to achieve that.
One Sunday evening, we had an extra spiritual service at church. Several people went to the altar so we went up to pray for them and God started dealing with me. I knew I couldn’t go sit back down without pouring it all out to God. And blessing of all blessings, Tiffany knelt at the altar before I did and gave her heart to the Lord! When I finally knelt after she had risen, I knew what I needed. I poured my sins out to the Lord and asked for forgiveness. The whole church prayed with me. Up to that point, it was the most powerful cleansing feeling I had ever felt. When I rose from my knees, my heart felt light! For the first time I felt forgiven! Free from sin! Words cannot explain the joyous feeling I had at that moment. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest. Somebody could’ve stole all my money and belongings and not dampened my spirits at all! I had Jesus! I was going to heaven!
It turned out later that God spoke to both of our hearts at the same time, causing us to get saved the same night, without knowing the other was going to do the same. That is still one of the greatest blessings to this day. I serve an amazing God.
The glorious feeling lasted for about a week, but then I wanted to do everything just right, and the old me came back. I felt like I had to go back, obey my parents and the Amish, to have God’s blessing in life. So the indecision came back. Days dragged to weeks. It put quite a strain on our relationship. We finally broke up. I couldn’t bear watching Tiffany hurting so badly, and she couldn’t handle knowing I might not be there with her much longer.
I tried to move on. I decided to finish my jobs out here in the English world and than go back to the Amish. After about three weeks of not seeing Tiffany, I was at a very low point in my life. God was such a comfort in those times. He gave me peace when no human could. I missed Tiffany so much! I started wondering if I could live without her, and I also had been reading scripture that made me see that my salvation is not based upon what I have done but what Christ had done for me. I really got confused then, so I decided to fast and pray.
After that, I felt very strongly that God was telling me to decide to stay out here and just simply trust Him. So I did, and He delivered. In less than a week I received a package from Mission to Amish People with a lot of good spiritual reading. And since Joe Keim had also been Amish and knew what I was going through, he knew exactly how to handle my situation. I received so much encouragement from the package. Tiffany and I set up a meeting with him and discussed our situation with him. He was so very helpful. He got us started in a Bible study that we set up to do every other weekend with him. And what a blessing Joe has been to both of us! He is a great man of God with a great ministry, and my prayer is that God would bless him as he has blessed us.
Things have really fallen into place after I put it all in the Lord’s hands and decided to trust in him. Tiffany and I got back together and are doing Bible studies with Joe, which we both really enjoy!
God has been so wonderfully good to us, and I received a call from my mom and dad a couple of weeks ago. They told me that if it is God’s will for me to stay out here, they want to accept it. What a blessing! In fact, my parents are currently searching for truth about being born again. I am trying to be a witness and a help to them. Prayers would be very much appreciated. My prayer is that through all this, my family could get saved. It would all be worth it then.
Tiffany and I got baptized just a couple of weeks ago. It was a wonderful turnout and a very blessed day! So many people showed up to support us, which I was very thankful for. My cup definitely runneth over. I am a very blessed person, and I give thanks and praise to God for all the prayers that were sent Heavenward on my behalf. May God bless each and every one of you as he has blessed me. —Monroe
P.S. I would like to close with a couple of pointers that have helped me along the way. First of all, when you get saved, you are born again spiritually. Now you’re like a baby. The old has died and the new is born. Put away all preconceived notions that may have been taught by men, look what the bible says exactly, and listen to God through the Holy Spirit. I have found that the only way to have peace with God is to listen to Him and to trust Him with all your heart. And most of all, know that Jesus died for your sins and if you accept Him, you are forgiven. Your sins are covered by His blood that He shed on the cross and He will be your advocate (lawyer) on Judgment Day (1 John 2:1). You cannot plead your own case based on your good works and without Christ. He already made the sacrifice for you and you just need to accept Him as your personal savior. Today…
—————End of Testimony————
Special Note: Back in July, we sent all of our donors a copy of Tiffany’s testimony. It was just as awesome and powerful as this one. If you are interested in reading it, please...
Click on the following link and it will take you there: Tiffany's Testimony