My Testimony of Faith - my story of leaving the Amish and Mennonites
Part 3 of my story is my personal testimony of what it was like to leave the Amish and Mennonites!
My testimony is of how the Lord has brought me from growing up as an Amish child. (Click here to read my story part 1). Being a rebellious teenager and leaving the Amish to join the Mennonites, in part 2 (read it here). And how He has brought me out of religion to where I am today in Christ.
Part 3 of my story is a little harder for me to write, as I'm not sure which parts of my testimony I should share, and what I should leave out.
Life is a journey, we all have a story. And none of our stories are the same. We all have our share of hard times, and sadly some people seem to have more than their share.
But the Word of God promises that He will not give us more than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). And He will give you grace for every situation that you find yourself in if you are a child of God.
We know that God is in control! Even though He allows Satan to put certain hardships upon us and allows man to have a free choice. God is ultimately in control, and we can trust Him completely with our lives.
I have a lot of peace in my heart and mind today because I know that my life is in God's hands. I don't have to fear tomorrow, for I know that He will take care of me.
If you don't have that peace, then I encourage you to call on Jesus and surrender your life to Him.
My story began in an Amish home - My Testimony of Faith
I am thankful that I was privileged to grow up in a home with parents that loved me and taught me about Jesus and His love for me. They raised me the best that they knew how, and I am grateful to them.
I am also thankful that they had the courage to leave the Old Order Amish, even though their family frowned upon them. Because if they had stayed with the Old Order, I may have never heard the truth of the gospel.
The Old Order group teaches salvation by works, but the New Order teaches salvation by grace through faith. (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.)
So, even though I grew up with a lot of religion, I knew that it was my faith in Jesus that would get me to heaven.
I grew up steeped in religion
Religion is the belief or worship of a God or gods. But religion is also that which is devised by man. Man comes up with his own way that he thinks he needs to worship his God or gods, certain things he thinks he has to do to please his God/gods.
Amish is a religion. They have come up with things that they think they have to do to please God. They base many of their rules on Biblical ideas, but most of them are just strictly devised by their own minds.
A few verses in the Bible talk about keeping the traditions, and they cling to those verses, taking them out of context. And they make "keeping the traditions of their forefathers" more important than what the Word of God says.
So I was taught many things that were not Biblically accurate. We read the Bible with preconceived ideas of what the Scripture meant.
And if you've grown up being taught all your life that something was right and the Bible said a certain thing, you'll understand that it is very difficult to retrain your mind. It is hard to read a verse and be open to the fact that it could mean something different than what you were taught.
Are the Amish the only ones going to heaven?
As a young Amish girl, my world was very small. I did not know how many Christians there were in the world. All I knew was that our way of living was the right way, and I wasn't sure if anyone else would make it to heaven.
As I got older I came to realize that there were outsiders that were saved, but (in my mind) they were just not as enlightened on Scripture as we were.
Our church had Sunday School every other Sunday. We gathered in smaller groups to read and discuss a Scripture passage, sharing what we thought it meant, etc.
At one point my dad was the teacher for the youth girls' class, and we were discussing the head covering. The question came up, "Would any woman make it to heaven if she doesn't wear the head covering?" The conclusion was: since the outsiders were not taught the need of wearing the head covering, they would be ok without it. But as plain people, we knew better, so for us, it would be a sin to not wear it.
Did I ever question our way of life?
As an Amish girl, I did not like all the rules in the church. But I did not really question our way of life. I believed that every woman should cover her head and wear a modest cape dress, etc.
I did question why we had to drive horse and buggy. And I questioned some of the silly little rules that I hated. But overall, I never questioned our doctrines and the plain way of life.
And honestly, I believe that when I lived in Canada (as a missionary to the Native Americans) was the first time that I started to question our doctrines.
While I was there, one of my Native American friends who was a born-again Christian, went to another reserve for weekend meetings. She came back home a changed person and was so full of joy and excitement about the Lord. She shared with me how she had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. And I knew that she had something I never experienced, and I wanted it.
After this, I began to dig into the Word of God. I became hungry and wanted more than what I had experienced in my Christian life. As I was introduced to new ways of thinking, I started to question some things I was taught.
What about Acts chapter 2 and the early church?
After I came home from Canada and left the Amish, I joined the Beachy Amish/Mennonite church. There I instantly connected with a young lady who had received the Holy Spirit baptism. She also had something within her that I was seeking for.
Two of the young men in the church had been filled with the Holy Spirit and were on fire for God. But the preachers thought they were bringing in false doctrine so they got kicked out of the church.
I kept reading in the Bible about the early church and the gifts of the Spirit, etc. And I knew there was more to the Christian life than what I was experiencing. I was seriously thinking about the fact that I needed to find a different church. But I also knew that it would break my parents' hearts if I left the Mennonites yet too.
God works in wondrous ways
God knew my heart, and He had a plan on how He would bring me out of the Mennonite community without breaking my parents' hearts.
I loved the Native American people. So I was happy when an opportunity arose for me to go to Canada to teach Summer Bible School to Native American kids. Five of my friends and I traveled together and joined a group of other young people for two weeks of Bible School.
There I met a young man, who asked me to marry him only five months later. 🙂
He had grown up Mennonite, and his dad had only recently gotten saved. They left the Mennonites and were attending a nondenominational church that consisted of ex-Mennonites who were still Mennonite in culture. The women still wore head coverings, etc. But they were what you might call Mennonite Pentecostals.
After we got married, I moved to Missouri where my husband was from, and we attended his church. I loved it. It was perfect!
But it was different not having a bunch of rules that I had to follow. And I told my husband one day that I think there is a feeling of security in having the preachers tell you what you may or may not do.
It's a lot harder to figure out for yourself what is right or wrong. It's scarier to follow the Holy Spirit. And at that point in my life, it would have been easier to just go back to the Mennonites. But I knew that was not what I wanted either.
Questioning my Salvation
We went through some difficult church situations and found ourselves moving to Pennsylvania, about two and a half hours from where I grew up. The church there was similar to the one we came from with a lot of ex-Mennonites.
All my life, I had based my salvation on my works. I knew that my works didn't save me. But if I wasn't producing the proper works in my life, then I would question whether I was saved or not.
I was going through a spiritually dry spell in my life. I wasn't reading my Bible much or spending time praying to God. So one night I was pouring my heart out to my husband, about my questions as to whether I was really saved or not. His answer to me was, "If you're not sure whether you're saved or not, then maybe you are not saved."
I was shocked by his answer, but it made me start thinking. He said, "If you are basing your salvation on your works, then you are not saved. It is not what we do that saves us, it is our faith in Jesus and what He did for us." I was like, "Wow! That's true."
There is no amount of works we can do to save ourselves or make ourselves righteous. Isaiah 64:6 says that our righteousness is as filthy rags. The only thing God can accept is our faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the Cross to atone for our sins.
Experiencing true freedom in Christ for the first time
Talk about freedom! Nothing lifts the burden off of your heart like the realization that you do not have to do anything to be saved but simply believe. Jesus did it all for you. It's very simple.
You cannot work to earn anything from God. It is a free gift! And as long as my faith remains in Jesus Christ and what He did for me, I will go to heaven. What assurance of salvation! I don't have to be afraid that if I happen to sin and then suddenly die, will I make it to heaven?
It was an amazing feeling of complete freedom when God made this real in my heart. I am going to heaven! And I have not questioned my salvation even once since that day. It's not about what I do, it is about what He did.
Sonlife Broadcasting Network
My husband had a forty-five-minute drive to work, and one day he found a radio station that started ministering to his heart. They were teaching the exact thing that the Lord had been trying to minister to him about how to live victoriously in Christ.
So we started listening to (jsm.org) online at home as well. We really didn't care that much for the music, but the Bible teaching was bringing so much truth and life to our hearts. And I began to seek God more for the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
I was praying and seeking God for several weeks. And as I was praying one morning, His presence came all over me. I started weeping and found myself speaking in tongues. It is real folks! The baptism with the Holy Spirit is real! I never experienced anything like it before. And there is absolutely nothing in this world that can compare to being in the presence of God.
Going to Bible College
After living in Pennsylvania for a few years, my husband felt led to move to Baton Rouge, LA to attend the Bible College there. That was quite a change for these ex-Amish/Mennonite country people.
We lived right in the heart of the city, and for the first time in our lives attended a church that had no Amish/Mennonite culture. It was a bit scary!
But it did not take long to find some friends that we enjoyed fellowshipping with. And God did an amazing amount of work in both of our hearts during our time there. Just setting us free from all the religion that had us bound for so many years.
The Head Covering
Of course, I was the only lady in the whole big church that wore a head covering. It didn't bother me too much at first, but I started struggling with it.
I read 1 Corinthians 11 so many times, asking God what He wants me to do. I was trying to find His will, His heart. Wondering exactly what this passage of Scripture meant?
At this point, I only wore a big scarf (that covered my whole head) while praying or to church services. Because that is how our church in PA had taught it, as the Bible does refer to having the head covered while praying or prophesying.
So I battled, in my mind, over this Scripture for several months. I was taught very strongly that a Christian woman must have her head covered. And yet, the majority of Christian women do not have their heads covered.
So are the Amish and Mennonites the only ones that have this right? Or is it not a big deal to God? I still feel like the Scripture that they use to make this doctrine out of, is not very clear.
So the head covering was probably the hardest thing for me to let go of because it is a BIG deal to the Amish and Mennonites. I knew that it would be extremely hard to face my family without a head covering on.
But I finally felt like God was telling me that I just need to lay it down. He brought me to the Scripture in Matthew 11: 28 -30. "Come unto Me all you who are weary, and I will give you rest". I need to stop worrying so much about outward things and learn to rest in Him. I felt in my heart like this was not a big deal to Him so why am I struggling so much?
Bringing my testimony - my story of leaving the Amish and Mennonites to a conclusion
In conclusion, I would like to say that I have learned many valuable things from the Amish and Mennonites. And leaving these communities has been like walking out of my comfort zone.
I still have family in the Amish and Mennonite communities whom I love and respect deeply. And if any of them read my story, I want them to know that I mean absolutely no disrespect to them or their way of life.
And I believe that as children of God, we will produce good works as a result of being in Christ. I believe that we will live differently from those who are unsaved because as a child of God, I cannot partake in the lusts of the flesh.
But we cannot make ourselves righteous or pleasing to God by any amount of good works. And I have found so much freedom in Christ since I came to realize that my salvation, my holiness, and righteousness are not determined by anything I do or don't do. It's all about Jesus, and my faith in His redemption for me on the Cross.
I hope you enjoyed reading my testimony and part 3 of my story...
I hope you enjoyed following along with my story of being Amish and my testimony of being set free from religion.
I'm sure not all of you will agree with my beliefs, and that's ok. We do not all have to agree on everything. But I would like to encourage you to seek to know God and to live with His peace in your heart. Jesus loves you!
I want to be with Jesus in eternity, and I hope to see you all there too!
God bless you all...
*featured image at the top is me on my wedding day
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