I’ve just watched an interesting, and beautiful, film on the BBC – Amish: A Secret Life.
There is something about the Amish that has always really interested me, and I know I’m not alone in that. There’s always a Amish-themed documentary or reality tv show going the rounds; the deplorable world of American Christian fiction is littered with stories about the ‘plain folk’; and people trek across the US to hang out in Pennsylvania, gawking at the weird Amish clothes, and spending chunks of cash on handmade Amish quilts.
The programme was really interesting, partly for the insight that it gave into this secret community, but also for the insight it gave into this particular family. David and Miriam and their family describe themselves as ‘Amish Christians’, they have come to put their trust in Jesus Christ, and him alone, and if they were to announce that to their church then they would probably be excommunicated. Shunned.
In making the film they have put themselves at risk, firstly, because they have agreed to be filmed (something which is banned in their church), and secondly, because in making the film they have revealed a number of other secrets about themselves, namely, they’re meeting with other already shunned families, to eat together and worship God, and they have been re-baptised. Both of these things are forbidden as well, and the truth is now out. The film-maker asked Miriam how she felt about the secrets being made known, and this is what she had to say:
It’s the truth, and God can always use the truth; he can make good of it.
I am moved by their bravery, and their willingness to give up all they have ever known to tell people the gospel, because it is truth and they know it. This year I have had the privilege of meeting a number of brothers and sisters who have risked being abandoned by their family, or worse, because they will not abandon Christ. A friend was asked ‘Why do you keep telling people, if believing it will cause them such hardship?’ The answer can be long and involved, but the short version is this: Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is the way, so we need Him. He is the truth, and He is most beautiful and lovely. He is the life, and all of the things that we give up for Him, even those things that seem so precious, are not worth comparing to all that he gives us in Him. How can I know that and not tell it?
The film ended with these remarks from David:
“There is no way of life that will bring peace and joy to a person’s heart. Some people think if they will only live a unique lifestyle like the Amish that will help them to be happy Some people think that if they would have a bigger house they would be happy. My message is, all of those things are good, but if that’s what your happiness is based on it’s not going to last. If you accept Jesus, that will be the true happiness.
The reason that we took part in the film is because one of the last commandments that Jesus gave to his disciples before he left was ‘Go ye and tell the world. Go ye to the uttermost parts of the world teaching, and preaching, and baptising in the name of Jesus’. There might be consequences but we pray that, we ask Jesus that we will not offend people.”
That’s some good news.
In summary: Jesus is better.